What is the future of online retail?

In my first week here at Engine Creative I’ve been asked to look into some research around the current state of online retail in the UK. In this blog post I detail some of my findings and consider the future of the retail industry and different ways in which we, as a creative agency, can contribute to future successes of UK retailers.

Down but definitely not out

To put the UK retail industry into perspective, UK retail sales in 2009 were £285 billion pounds. This industry has long been a staple of British society with brands including Marks and Spencer’s, John Lewis and BHS holding a special place in UK consumer’s hearts. But times are changing within the retail arena, and they are changing at an alarming pace. The economic recession has without doubt affected the high street in a big way with high profile brands including Zavvi, Woolworths and Peacocks falling victim to decreases in consumer disposable incomes. Such is the current economic climate some have even predicted the death of the high street with an average of 14.6% of retail premises now remaining unoccupied across the country.

So what can retailers do to revive their flagging industry? As a creative agency, we have always looked to integrate new technologies and create innovative advertising campaigns that actively engage with the ever more sophisticated UK consumer.

Integration of innovative technologies

Consumer power

Retailers have determined that consumers no longer respond to one dimensional print advertisements as they have done in the past and are instead looking to become more actively involved in the brand, whether it be through social media streaming or via campaigns that they are able to respond to.

The future of retail will involve increased consumer input with consumers eventually being able to give retailers their ideas on new designs, and even gaining control over new collections and campaigns. Elements of this has begun to take place across the various social media platforms being used increasingly by retail organisations. Through the use of social media sites retailers have ensured that the relationship between the two parties is stronger than ever before, thus increasing consumer brand loyalty that is so crucial during the economic downturn.

Time to get mobile

E-commerce has also affected the retail industry in a big way, allowing consumers to source a wider range of products at a more competitive price than ever before. The online retail industry has evolved further in large part due to the increase in popularity of smartphones, with mobile sales accounting for 5.3% of e-commerce sales in the quarter to January 2012. It is clear that the implementation of a clear mobile strategy is required for all retailers if they are to maximise the opportunities that this rapidly growing platform offers.

The high street is dead, long live the new high street!

Although many have predicted the death of the high street and indeed the retail industry itself, the industry will not die out but instead continue to evolve and continue to engage with the consumer in even more collaborative ways. What an amazing time to be working in the creative industry!

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