*How Is The Digital Age Impacting The Retail Industry?

How the retail industry will look in five years time is unknown, especially with the rise of internet shopping and other technologies such as augmented reality. Some of our favourite high street brands are closing their doors to the public, as mobile and e-commerce websites take over sales. It has become apparent that customers would much rather sit in their pyjamas on their sofa to do their shopping – and this applies to all sectors in the industry, from groceries and white goods to fashion.

Fashion is dominating the online shopping world, and makes up around one third of all online purchases in the UK. Stockists of London fashion brand Helene Berman, Trilogy Stores, provide us with more of an insight into what this means for high street stores.

A look at the current market

Fashion retailers and stores have been around for many years, comfortably competing with each other. Now however, they face a new challenge against online shops. In the last 12 months, approximately 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online – with online sales increasing 21.3% in the year 2016, and forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017. Consumer buying patterns have shifted a great deal. Consumers are choosing to shop in their spare time, usually on an evening or during the night, making it difficult for retail high street stores to compete with their limited shopping hours.

Online shops are making the shopping experience similar to the high street — with size guides, next day delivery and free returns. The need to physically try before you buy is fading away. This is influencing the success of high street stores – driving some of them into the ground. Online retailers are able to offer unbeatable prices due to their extremely low running costs without stores.

A digitalised future

The future looks digitalised for the retail industry and companies must be aware of this when they look forward. With many big brands already marking their territory online, smaller brands need to consider digital if they are to stay in the game. High street retail, made with bricks and mortar will be no more – the technology revolution is here and it’s time to make the transition.

The success of online retailers has proven that there’s no need for a presence on the high street anymore. Many have found success solely on online platforms, using e-commerce websites and social media apps to drive business – with big high street names following in their footsteps and favouring digital platforms over high street stores.

Using social media to your advantage

Consumers are using social media more to interact with brands and fellow users. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have become essential marketing tools for fashion retailers, evolving from catwalk shows and big shop window displays, retailers now capitalise via their social media profiles.

Retailers have discovered the power of celebrity endorsement in advertising their products too. Instagram in particular, has over 700 million active monthly users, with over 40 billion photos shared. With this in mind, the app has become a platform whereby celebrities, public figures and social influencers are used to endorse a brand’s product, guaranteeing a certain level of exposure and success depending on how many followers they have.

Kendall Jenner is one example of a celebrity with many followers who businesses use for celebrity endorsements. When she is asked to endorse a product, or be the face of a brand campaign, she is securing exposure to all of her 81.6 million followers – guaranteeing more exposure than most other forms of marketing. This then encourages users to redirect to the brands profile, or their website – if one picture can reach millions of people, then isn’t that more successful than a shop window display?

Another celebrity with millions of followers is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. She is the face of PAIGE jeans and has over 7.6 million followers. Fashion brands know that the success of a campaign can be influenced by the level of followers the endorser has. Using a celebrity endorsement encourages a certain level of user engagement.

Changing methods of customer service too

Research has proven that social media is an effective way to communicate with customers too. Interactions across Twitter has increased by 250% over the past two years and has seen many customer satisfaction pages set up in this time. Customers are looking for a service which reduces their effort is quick and convenient. Is social media the answer?

Customers are finding traditional methods of customer service annoying. Over 32% of consumers asked in a recent survey admitted that phone and voice communication was the most frustrating customer service channel.

Perhaps you don’t feel that your business is ready to fully immerge into the digital world. Why not try building your online presence through social media first? If you don’t partake in any digital marketing, you could be missing out on an entire market.

Sources https://www.gurufocus.com/news/492058/uk-online-shopping-and-ecommerce-statistics-for-2017 https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloeb/2016/08/09/the-future-of-retailing-the-revolution-to-technology-is-now/#581a34bc4fc1 http://www.conversocial.com/blog/the-7-most-important-customer-service-stats-for-2017

*This is a paid guest post

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