UK Retailers Don't Always Look to Tech for In-Store Upgrades

Brick-and-mortar shops mainly focus on brick-and-mortar upgrades 

Author: Cliff Annicelli

October 5, 2017

Tech upgrades may not be the first step that UK brick-and-mortar retailers take to upgrade the in-store experience.

September 2017 polling by Opinium Research LLP for Barclaycard Business asked retail decision-makers about the steps they had taken to improve their in-store shopping experience. The upgrades tended to focus on simple physical changes, rather than tech-oriented solutions. 

For instance, while 58% said they had introduced faster payment options, even more said that they increased the variety and amount of stock they kept on hand.

About half had introduced several other nondigital improvements, among them changing store hours on a Sunday (51%), rearranging the store’s layout (50%) or giving shoppers at physical stores deals that were unavailable online (49%).

In contrast, technology-based efforts, such as in-store tablets for shoppers to check stock availability, were enacted by just 33% of respondents.

According to a parallel survey of UK internet users conducted during the Barclaycard Business study, pushing shoppers to stores has tangible benefits. The poll found that 25% of respondents made a purchase almost every time they visited a physical store, compared with 12% who did the same during store website visits.

The importance of physical store improvements to drive in-store traffic comes as ecommerce captures a growing share of overall retail sales in the UK. eMarketer expects digital's share of UK retail sales to reach 19.1% this year, and top 25% by 2021.

Ecommerce is increasingly widespread in the UK, a country with the highest rate of digital buyer penetration in Western Europe, by eMarketer’s projections.

eMarketer estimates that 45.2 million UK internet users ages 14 and older will be a digital shopper this year, meaning they will browse, research or compare products digitally. That’s up 1.9% from 2016. Nearly 43 million of those shoppers—or 78.1% of the UK population in that age range—will go on to make at least one purchase digitally in 2017, a year-over-year increase of 2.0%.

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash