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The Future of the High Street

It’s pretty scary to think what things will look like in 30 years time. Will the hoverboards from Back to the Future be recycling fodder by then and will we all have holiday homes in space? Only the future really knows, but one thing we can be sure of, is that the way we shop really will change.

Experts say that retail and our shopping experience has moved forward more in the past ten years than it has in the past 1,000 and it shows no signs of slowing down.

You only have to look at Liverpool’s amazing transformation to see a difference in the way we consume and what we demand from retailers in the modern day. But the way we interact with brands and the shopper experience will be altogether different by 2020, according to a retail technology expert, and we for one, want to know how!

The Future of Liverpools High Street

Mobile lead, multi-channel and with an enhanced store experience are just a few of the ways the likes of Liverpool ONE, Bold Street and Lord Street, will adjust according to Retail Store founder and CEO Ian Tomlinson.

Ian said: “Whilst Liverpool was reinventing itself, so was the retail world and Liverpool ONE is a leading example of the new retail experience. It fuses together perfectly retail, digital and destination marketing.

“However our research has shown us, that as retailers invest more in technology and play catch up with the likes of China, Japan and USA, the face of Liverpool as a shopping destination could be very different in just a couple of years time.”

The Knowsley-based IT firm has just stepped into it’s 15th year, after being the first to introduce cloud technology to retailers internationally. To you and me, the system allows retailers to track and manage stock, sales and inventory through a digital platform. It’s up there somewhere – we don’t know exactly how but it works, that’s for certain.

Online vs In-store

With the apparent ‘threat’ to the high street posed by digital retailers and web-based platforms, Ian cites a shift in both culture and approach to this so-called ‘online ambush’.

“Industry buzz words like omni-channel exist for a reason,” says Ian, “we shop differently and we want different things from our retail environments.

“We no longer jump in our car or on the bus to get to the shops, buy our goods and return home.

“We dwell longer in evolving leisure-cum-shopping destinations; we desire the tangible experience of picking up the goods after we have researched deals, details and discounts online; and more often than not, we still want the social aspect of shopping, whether that be meeting with friends to dine, drink and shop, or sharing our hauls on social media.”

Ian forecasts that the consumer will not only desire a quicker, more efficient way to shop with the increased used of mobile technology as a form of payment and to house loyalty apps, but screenless ATM’s could also be a nuance quickly adopted by destinations like Liverpool ONE to create a seamlessly integrated experience. Those sleep deprived forgetful parenting moments when you forget the pin you’ve had for 20 years will soon be a thing of the past!

New ways to pay

“Iris and retina scanners as well as fingerprint technology are already being trailed as are pre-order app drinks at Starbucks,” said Ian.

“Robots are serving customers at Pizza Hut in Tokyo and there’s a zero clicks app for Dominoes being tested.

“All of this helps to reduce the so-called ‘friction’ with customers and enhances the experience. It’s not outlandish to say that we could see versions of these kinds of technology in Liverpool within a matter of years.”

With digital forward stores like Argos in Liverpool ONE, the influx of ‘show rooming’ will increase, says Ian, with customers being able to choose from ‘extended digital aisles’ offering a wider range of products, colours and styles, for in-store or home delivery. 

“This means the brand can still have that interaction with their customers without the need for housing huge amounts of stock,” added Ian, “helping them to better manage their inventory and with unnecessary financial outlay.”

With an Amazon Click and Collect hub and Doddle Collect and Return station, abundant parking and well connected public transport, Liverpool ONE is already ahead of the curve in achieving that omni-channel experience, says Ian.

But the future of Liverpool as a shopping destination, not only relies on retailers keeping up with the heartbeat of the consumer, but the understanding that the consumer still desires that experience of shopping and to make it a more enjoyable experience, each and every time. And this will be something our kids will be even more demanding of in the future.

“Whether you’re a Millenial or from Gen X, we know that what makes the consumer tick is a lot different to how it was even five years ago,” added Ian.

“The interesting point is that now, with advances in technology happening every day, the speed at which the shift change will happen will be monumentally quick, and I for one am excited.”

Join the queue. We are too!

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