BRC and Springboard’s footfall figures highlight need for retailers to deliver store of the future

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Retail footfall has dipped for the seventh month in a row in June, with overall footfall having slipped by 0.9% year-on-year, according to the latest figures published by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard. Shopping centres saw a fall in footfall of 3.4%, reflecting the overall trend of fewer visits to bricks and mortar stores.

The high street was the only area that delivered positive footfall last month, albeit a marginal increase of 0.1%. Millennials now make 54% of their purchases online, but the retailers adapting their stores to offer greater convenience are still making headway with the remaining 46%. Ted Baker, for example, has been piloting an in-store payment solution allowing customers to order unavailable stock for home or work delivery.

Retailers are working hard to create ‘store of the future’ plans, but it can be tough to quickly evaluate and implement the technology needed to achieve their digital vision, according to World Wide Technology vice president of digital Matt Sebek.

He commented: “It’s often overlooked that many people still like shopping on the high street, providing that the in-store experience is convenient. ‘Ease’ doesn’t just have to mean ‘online only’ – the best retailers will be those that combine digital and physical the most successfully, hence Amazon breaking into bricks-and-mortar retailing.

“Rather than fighting against online retail, brands are using technology to offer a version of what draws customers to the online experience.  For instance, the speed and efficiency of online shopping is emulated in fashion-and-lifestyle brand Arket’s reference-number system: if you buy a sweater and wish to replace it a year  later, enter the digits from the care label into a store terminal and it will direct you to current versions of the garment and explain any differences in fabrication and construction.

“However, many retailers are still struggling to reconcile the vision of their future store with the limitations presented by their outdated infrastructure. Archaic legacy wireless systems bar implementation of major initiatives which could drive a better customer experience, such as point-of-sale systems with mobile checkout capabilities and advanced customer analytics.

“To put this into context, online checkouts happen instantly in the modern retail market – if physical stores can’t offer fast and easy checkout options, customers may become frustrated and are likely to leave the store without making any purchases.”

Matt continued: “But in order to enable initiatives like this, retailers need to identify the best platform on which to position their wireless networks. Before determining which solution to deploy throughout the organisation, retailers need to run a successful, effective proof of concept, in order to ensure that it is secure, sustainable and scalable.

“Identifying the best platform on which to build the new standard for wireless networks not only strengthens infrastructure, but also provides retailers with integration opportunities to deliver the store of the future.”

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