Stores must “dovetail” with online presence

A report from The Local Data Company (LDC) shows how online shopping is helping the high street. The shop vacancy rate fell to 14.2% in 2012 from 14.3% in 2011. Matthew Hopkinson, LDC director, says: “Online is driving growth for a majority of retailers and so 2013 is all about the supporting roles that shops will have as ‘customer experience’ centres and showrooms, as much as transactions through their till.” However, retailers still need to ‘right size’ their retail estates.

Dr Dacko, asssociate professor of marketing and strategic management at Warwick Business School, says differentiation is key and that retailers have to be smart to make sure their shops not only offer something unique but dovetails with their online presence: “There is so much online competition that stores need to differentiate themselves to survive. On the one hand they need to be seamlessly integrated with their online offerings. And at the same time they need to offer something different in their stores. It is too easy for consumers to make price comparisons these days, so it makes sense that stores look to make themselves different.They can do that by emphasising local needs, which could be the bakery or butchers using locally-sourced food. Or they can offer a unique ambience, a unique shopping experience, Wi-Fi, high quality products or service. They could offer exceptional value like the 99p stores or click and collect.”