Why it’s time for high street entrepreneurs to get tech-savvy

December 18, 2014 10:28 am The UK Domain

Worldwide, and particularly in the UK, events such as Small Business Saturday have endeavoured to put independent high street retailers back in the spotlight to help bridge the gap between online sales and bricks and mortar footfall.

But what exactly is causing the gap and how can your entrepreneurial business start to bridge it?

Embracing technology

Better public and personal transport is helping to drive consumers to the increasing number of large out-of-town retail areas. This is just one of the many factors having an effect high street footfall.

Yet the most significant contributor is technology, with many small businesses now facing competition from the ever-increasing online presence of larger retailers.

Research by Nominet shows that customers increasingly expect high street businesses to have a firm grip on technology, with 49% believing businesses should have basic online search facilities and 60% stating that local shops should at least have a landing page with contact details and opening times².

The study also revealed that a high number of consumers would be encouraged to buy from high street shops more if they:

  • Could purchase online;
  • Could browse and research products or services;
  • Were offered a ‘Click and Collect’ service.

Small businesses thriving online

This research is not to say that all high street businesses are falling short when it comes to consumer’s online expectations. There are some great examples of innovative small business entrepreneurship.

Many high street businesses are leveraging the power of sales aggregators such as Amazon Marketplace and eBay, to set up sales channels at very low, or even zero investment cost. Even small restaurants and cafes are embracing an online presence and adding value to their high street businesses by using sites like the online booking service, Open Table.

Fulfilling e-commerce orders doesn’t have to be a challenge either. Many small businesses can offer the same smooth delivery service as large retailers by outsourcing. This allows them to obtain warehouse functions such as:

  • Storage of large quantities and inventory management;
  • Automatic order fulfilment;
  • Return and exchange processing.

Is it time for your small business to get to grips with technology? With smart phones getting smarter and customers become more tech-savvy, there’s never been a better time for high street shops to stay ahead of the digital curve.

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(1)Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/8953597/Graphic-the-decline-of-the-British-high-street.html

(2)Source: http://www.nominet.org.uk/news/latest/survey-shows-consumer-frustration-offline-high-street-stores