Mark Pearson: Why m-commerce won’t kill the high street

How should the high street handle the boom in m-commerce? MyVoucherCodes’ Mark Pearson shares his thoughts on what it needs to do to survive and thrive.

Each time new technology threatens to rock the boat there’s a flurry of discourse hailing the doom of ‘this industry’ and ‘that way of life’. It was the same when the World Wide Web and subsequent e-commerce capabilities were introduced and what happened? The reality is that at around 10% of the market, online sales have yet to offer any real threat to the high street whatsoever.

So the latest development everyone’s getting in a flap over is m-commerce. Should this leave high-street retailers crying into their cash registers? I don’t think so. I actually think m-commerce will usher a new dawn of prosperity for retailers. But I don’t think it will be an easy win – it’s going to be a hard slog in fact.

What we know

The technological landscape changing, and these changes don’t scare your customers – quite the opposite. The public adapts to tech changes quite quickly; 72% of the UK population now own a smart phone and large proportions are using them to buy. But they are also using them to check the stock in their favourite stores. Many customers still want to see, touch and sample products before they make the purchase and this is where bricks and mortar stores won’t die. That said, retailers do need to adapt to this new approach to shopping.

When these customers come into the store, are they showrooming? Almost half admit to it so, yes, they probably are. Forty-one percent may be using their device in-store to compare prices, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be converted. Technology allows us to target these users and hit them with deals and a host of fantastic added extras. It allows them to scan items, compare prices instantly and click to pay, without ever getting their wallet out. So if the customer wants a showroom, let’s give them a showroom!

Securing the future of high-street stores means adapting to accommodate multichannel shoppers, showrooming and giving customers tech savvy solutions. Retailers need to lose the ‘retail space’ attitude in favour of a multi-sensory showroom, with the lure of online deals. Apps like More allow retailers to will alert passing customers of must-have, ‘today only’ offers and pop up events – giving them a reason to enter the store. Once inside let them scan and compare products, and before they leave the store, and hit them with an offer they can’t afford to refuse.

There’ll always be a reason for customers to visit brick and mortar stores.  But retailers will still need to both lead the horse to water, and make it drink before they leave. Increasingly, high street stores will need to offer customers targeted, tailored deals and pop up events to increase footfall and conversions. If they can manage this though, the brave new world of m-commerce is there for the taking!