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August 13, 2013

High street shops ‘must embrace technology to survive’

Marketing director claims Government's plans to turn empty shops into housing shows it has given up on high street.

By Joe Curtis

The Government has given up on the high street, says a marketing director who believes shops could boost their business by adapting to the challenges of the online retail sector.

Planning minister Nick Boles will grant councils more freedom to convert retail premises into private housing as the Internet continues to change the way people shop.

Boles wants councils to focus on revitalising just one or two main streets and letting the rest be turned into flats and homes, but Tradedoubler regional director Dan Cohen believes this is the wrong approach.

He said: "There’s no doubt that the retail landscape has changed almost beyond recognition in the past decade, but suggesting knocking them down to make way for additional housing developments is a sign that the Government has conceded defeat when it comes to the regeneration of the British high street."

Instead he believes technology can help save struggling shops, by changing the way customers engage with them, adding that 60% of customers with smartphones use their devices to check for better prices elsewhere while shopping.

He said: "Retailers need to accept and embrace this change in consumer behaviour, and use technology to implement a seamless approach to their customer experience, whether this is online, in-store or on mobile. If they do, they’ll find themselves in a more positive position to really appeal to customers that are more fixated on price rather than particular retail brands.

"Capturing customers on the move is something that retailers need to embrace through solid mobile and tablet marketing in conjunction with their digital and traditional routes, and the Government needs to help them to realise this.

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"Providing customers with a multi-channel experience, inclusive of mobile and tablet options, can give consumers much more information about the products on offer, offer incentivised in-store deals and even help persuade them back into physical stores once again."

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