Thanks to the internet, it is becoming easier and easier for people to start their own business. Selling products and services online, eliminating the need for a physical shop, potentially increasing profits as overheads are cut down. However, what does this mean for the future of the British high street? Is it still possible for small and independent retailers to exist (and thrive) on the high street in a market that seems to be driven by online business and large chains?
The continuing advances in technology, and the fact that almost everyone has nearly permanent access to an internet-ready device, means that much more buying is being done online than in the past. In addition to this, as a general rule, people are becoming busier, with the same need for products, but with less time to spend browsing shops to purchase them. However, the growth in online shopping isn’t the only reason for the current struggle on the high street- especially given that, according to figures from the Centre for Retail Research only 17% of UK retail purchases in 2016 were made online. Property prices are also making it difficult for small businesses to cope on the high street, with the current rent for retail spaces at a crippling figure, small businesses are being priced out of areas in which they might otherwise thrive. These factors mean that it is becoming more and more common for high streets, even in smaller rural areas, to become dominated by big brand names, rather than smaller, independent retailers. Is this likely to change in the future, and is there anything smaller businesses can do to compete?
Despite the fact that some people no longer feel they have the time to go out shopping, for many others, it is still an activity to be enjoyed- and it is these people that are important to smaller high street businesses. For many, shopping is about more than just buying goods at a low price- the experience of shopping is also important to them. Not only this, but people, as much as they crave convenience and low prices, also desire social interaction. This means that, though smaller retailers are perhaps unable to offer the price match guarantees provided by the big chains, they are able to offer a personalised shopping experience by getting to know their customer and providing faultless customer service.
With retail giants such as Amazon soon likely to make their entry onto the high street in the near future, it’s more important than ever for independent retailers to focus on what makes them unique, and to deliver a shopping experience that even the biggest retail giants cannot match. The fact is that the future of the British High Street will not be decided by Amazon, or any other retail giant, but by the choice of the consumer. Small business cannot compete on price, but they will continue to be relevant as long as provide unique products, a personalised shopping experience and human customer service.
Article submitted by multisignsltd.com, a family run company that specialises in providing printing and advertising services to small businesses across the UK.