According to data released by the British Retail Consortium, online sales fell last month as shoppers flocked to physical stores. The bank holiday weekend, summer staycations and back-to-school purchases no doubt fuelled the shopping wave in August. The next five months provide myriad opportunities to recoup lost sales, particularly for retailers that were hit the hardest by the mandatory store closures.
The scale in which people returned to stores shows that shopping is certainly more than just a process of acquiring goods; it is a social experience, a leisure pastime – one that will never cease to exist but must alter as consumer behaviours evolve. With online sales falling in August, it’s clear retailers must learn the importance of brick-and-mortar for long-term business performance and will continue to enhance the store experience with increased digital capabilities. Ultimately, retailers must be prepared to offer unified commerce experiences, exceptional customer service and compelling product assortments for a robust level of footfall to continue.
As the summer holiday draws to a close and the golden quarter is on the horizon, retailers need to be at the ready. Stores need to become experience centres and showrooms for brands. Retailers will be looking at ways digital technologies can enhance the store experience. We are seeing the greatest interest in areas such as self-scanning on mobile apps, appointment bookings, clienteling for more personalised service, RFID for inventory control, and contactless shopping.