Some good news for UK High Street performance comes on the back of much doom and gloom about the future of shopping in our towns and cities. Recent high profile collapses such as Blockbuster or Jessops and the highlighting of the tax affairs of online retailers all point to the need for changes if the High Street is to survive.
I had thought that the review by Mary Portas was intended to achieve some change here, but it sounds as if this might be struggling with disagreements, or at least with the difficulties of making real change that can often be painful.
My understanding about the Portas review is that there isn’t much in there about how the offline/High Street world should work in tandem with online. I had a quick read of it and can’t find mention of this. I personally think this is a really important element to consider, and might be critical to helping make sure our High Streets don’t just become boarded up premises intermingled with the odd charity shop.
So my idea is for either existing online retailers, or potentially an independent company, to set-up High Street premises that serve as community hubs and delivery destinations for online purchased products. They should also offer facilities for returns, which certainly for me are the bane of online shopping. Knowing that I can get an item delivered to such a hub, possibly even same day (maybe a stretch, but in time) but also knowing I can go there and return an item with ease would be interesting to me. I think I’d use it, and while there would probably buy a coffee, maybe even lunch or perhaps pop around the corner to a real bricks and mortar store.
Amazon and others already run delivery locker systems, and you can have items delivered to local stores today, but a specific hub for this purpose with some associated products or services might be commercially viable.
Rather than battle the online retailer, maybe getting that customer onto the High Street in this way is worth considering?