Government launches Future High Streets Forum, helping retailers adapt to an omni-channel world

Published on 13 February 2013 by in Latest News

future high street forum omni channel customer experience Government launches Future High Streets Forum, helping retailers adapt to an omni channel world

The Government has announced a major initiative, the Future High Streets Forum, to support the ailing British High Street in an attempt to encourage retailers to embrace the growth of digital commerce.

The Forum brings together major high-street representatives, including department store giant John Lewis and the British Retail Consortium, and promises to award innovative concepts for reinvigorating local commercial spaces with funding from a £1 million pot.

Launching the scheme last week, Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk admitted retailers were struggling to adapt to the changing commercial environment. “It is clear that our high streets will need to change to prosper,” stated Prisk. It is hoped that the scheme might prevent other high street retail brands from suffering the same demise as recent casualties HMV and Blockbuster.

Advocates of the new venture are keen to affirm that the increasing popularity of e-commerce needn’t pose a threat to bricks and mortar retailers.

“Rather than online leading to the demise of the high street, there is a strong argument to suggest these two shopping channels should co-exist and support one another,” attests Adam Stewart, Marketing Director for internet retailer, Play.com.

Stewart cites the challenge for retailers to present a more consistent multi-channel customer experience, taking advantage of technological advances including mobile internet and NFC technology.

“Many businesses are already embracing this change by joining up their offerings, using in-store Wi-Fi, click and collect services and online offers redeemable in-store” notes Stewart, adding, “and reversely online stores are increasingly using pop-up stores to create physical brand touch-points.”

This focus on pop-up shopping formats reflects one of the major aims of the government-run forum, championing more innovative, flexible ways of reaching out to consumers. “Ultimately, all retailers need to work towards a refined shopping ecosystem that targets consumers both online and offline,” concludes Stewart.

numero will track the progress of the new initiative as the story develops and hope it will enable retailers to take vital steps towards offering consumers a more convenient, personalised multi-channel customer experience.

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