Can we really blame the internet for High Street retail failures?

HMV goe bustIt seems that not a single week goes by without the news of yet another British High Street retailer  going under. Comet, HMV and Blockbuster are just three high-profile names to have recently entered administration as companies struggle to compete with the digital age.

With recent statistics from the British Retail Consortium suggesting growth of around 18 per cent in non-food e-commerce purchases, it appears as a generation we are becoming more accustomed to shopping online. But is it really the fault of online retailers that the High Street is experienced such a decline?

Websites: a poor relation?

Many retailers are still guilty of treating their e-commerce website as a poor relation, when really they should be investing more time and effort in their digital landscape than their High Street one.

It’s not as if retailers can turn around and suggest the trend of online shopping has happened overnight either; there has been consistent growth in this sector for a number of years and it is only going to increase.

Failure to diversify

Companies such as Blockbuster and HMV have been left behind in the e-commerce world, with competitors adapting quicker to the demands of the consumer and utilising the low overhead model of an online business to good effect. Despite businesses such as Blockbuster diversifying into its own online marketplace such as eBay and play.com, the fact it failed to be at the front of the queue for such a concept was seemingly the final nail in its coffin.

Businesses such as Amazon, LoveFilm and many more have contributed a considerable amount to the national economy and ensured that the UK was, of last year, the most internet-based major economy in the world. E-commerce contributes a whopping 8.3 per cent toward the UK economy, more than any other G20 nation, and that is because online retailers are seizing the moment.

E-commerce: ideal for couch potatoes

Let’s be honest; one of the primary reasons we shop online as opposed to traipsing into town or city centres is for downright convenience. The ability to sit in our cosy armchairs with a nice warm cuppa and buy our weekly groceries or the latest computer game means it has never been easier for online retailers to convert visitors into customers and regular ones at that.

The High Street retailers that are surviving and prospering in the digital age are those that are embracing the power of social media. Investment in Facebook and Google+ pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels and Pinterest boards is crucial to online growth and ensuring even a fraction of social users that engage with you are regular customers.

Is the High Street doomed as we know it?

Does the power of e-commerce mean Britain’s High Streets are simply on borrowed time? Not necessarily. However, retailers need to be on the ball and ready to adapt to new consumer trends. The digital world moves so fast and it is important that brands that wish to co-exist online and on the High Street can keep up and become proactive rather than reactive to online retailers that have dominated the landscape for so long.

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