High street innovates to combat online competition

According to an annual report by Virgin Media Business, 21 per cent of the 5,000 businesses contacted also said they needed more Wi-Fi in stores to provide innovative sales offers and marketing promotions to customers.

Analysts predict nearly half the nation will own a smartphone in 2012, and retailers are capitalising on this growing trend by providing consumers with deals available via handsets. This is set to increase with 14 per cent of businesses looking to invest in more mobile applications.

More than a third of retailers believe within a decade, they will be spending as much money improving their stores as they will in creating an online presence. Meanwhile, 22 per cent are recognising the value in offering near field communication (NFC) contactless payment methods, which allow mobile payment techniques to replace or supplement traditional systems.

Tony Grace, Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Media Business, said: “Retailers are looking at new ideas to tempt the shopper back through the door. Stores have recognised the fact they need to offer a quicker, sleeker and better value service to keep up with their digital rivals. The rate at which technology is developing means the shopper has a ton more options than they had just five years ago.

“Putting signage up in stores isn’t enough anymore. Looking at location-based offers, special sales codes available via smartphones and other tactics are being considered to help boost the traditional retail model. Integrating a mix of new technology will help to deliver smarter offers to customers and tempt them away from the computer.

“But no one high street store is the same. When integrating new technology into the traditional sales techniques, retailers should be seeking out service providers who can really support them. We have the network, the people and the creativity to go beyond traditional IT and help businesses put this in place no matter what challenges they face.”