With the news of Blockbusters closing, hot on the heels of HMV and last year Comet, I was asked my view of the British High Street this week.
Firstly, I feel extremely sorry for the staff at any retailers being closed down. I’ve been through redundancy processes myself and they are really unpleasant, turning the most confident people into nervous wrecks overnight. I recommend any staff direct their anger at their senior management for lack of foresight, even when it was incredibly obvious how business models were changing due to the Internet becoming more ubiquitous.
It’s easy to forget that Internet sites employ people to. Amazon employs over 2,000 people in the UK. My brother-in-law’s Internet business employs half a dozen people including warehouse staff. I doubt his business would have employed more people if they owned a retail shop.
The Internet is now its own standard way of shopping. During the 2012 festive season we bought almost every present online. My wife does all of our shopping over the Internet, including a local greengrocer who she emails orders to and they deliver, for free. The only time I ever go into a branch of my bank is to deposit cheques.
Internet shopping is a mature industry. It’s now a default way of shopping.
For some, there is the shopping ‘experience’ of going to a huge shopping centre, or somewhere like Harrods. Personally I don’t enjoy the experience of shopping on a weekend. The thought of going to Lakeside, Brent Cross, Westfield, etc. makes me instantly start thinking of what else I could be doing with that time.
High Street retailers cannot sit still expecting consumers to feel sorry for them. They need to adapt their business models, whether its superior customer service – so good that you will buy from them, and ensure they are competitively priced at the same time.