Does Ecommerce Mean The End Of Our High Street?

Friday 3 December 2021

Written by Roy Butcher

Does Ecommerce Mean The End Of Our High Street?

Does Ecommerce Mean The End Of Our High Street?

Shopping habits have changed forever, always inevitable but accelerated by the pandemic, forcing retailers to adopt an efficient omnichannel retail experience.

By 2021, Ecommerce has gone conventional. Amazon is now among one of the biggest companies in the World, and more than half of China’s retail sales this year have been online.

Only this week, I was reading a report, about the results of Auto Trader, which had re-focused on its digital offering during the pandemic, now announcing its highest ever 6-month sales and profits, as demand for cars from its platform surged to record levels.

As we have shifted to 'the new normal', where buying habits have had to change, and mostly everything now sold online, is the future of retail unavoidably digital only?

As the heading may suggest, this Blog is not suggesting Ecommerce (a sector I focus on and am enthusiastic about) will force our High Streets into Ghosts Towns! Quite the contrary - it's making a case whether Ecommerce itself must rethink and adapt. 

It's clear the pandemic is not going away anytime soon, so there will remain concerns over the logistics of browsing and shopping in the short to medium term. That is clear. However, there are numerous reports and studies, suggesting consumers will want to return to Hight Street, simply because individuals enjoy and wish for a complete shopping experience. 

Like a lot of people, I love and consume music. The digital space within this sector has been a dream fit for the customer, who can stream music in an instance. But do I miss the record shops, browsing through 100s of CDs for hours on end? Yes, I do a lot! 

An interesting article in City AM reported on a future vision for our High Streets, seeing them evolve into themed micro-businesses that would serve local communities, by also utilising the latest in AI and Ecommerce advancements. 

Consumer futurist, Will Higham, stated that - “Innovations like AI and e-commerce can actually help bring communities closer together. Building a bright future for the local high street will be about combining the best of the present with the best from centuries past.” 

Like many, noticeably Arcadia, who failed because they did not adapt to an omnichannel retail experience for its clients quickly enough, the same may happen to pure online retailers who do not adapt their models and embrace a “clicks and mortar” experience, which would fulfill the complete needs of the modern consumer.

Many pure online retailers have excellent operational models. They have examined social media to create communities, utilised influencers, and invested heavily in innovative interactive technologies to promote customers to the appropriate products.

But what about the consumer, who wants the full experience of shopping, trying on clothes, having the option to engage directly with an informed retailer, particularly big-ticket items, and in my case making a lot of coffee stops?

Click and mortar is not suggesting a throwback to past retail models, where investment is again required in the form of expensive fixed shop space. It's about thinking creatively about how and when customers can again become part of a physical interaction that reinforces the brand experience.

If you own a high street business and would like to discuss this further, please get in contact with me at or click here to get in touch.

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