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Is Apple to blame for the High Street's struggles?

Ashleigh Allsopp | Feb. 18, 2013
The recent failure of retailers such as HMV, Jessops, Blockbuster, Game, Comet and Play.com, and reports suggesting that 600 shops closed last year, have raised the question about what's to blame for the high street's struggles. Apple on the other hand is seeing huge success. What is Apple doing right? And is its success to blame for the failures of others?

In the video, Apple highlighted the Covent Garden Store, which is described as the 300th store, and "the best store so far because it's got all of our thinking from the 299 steps that preceded it."

Other than creating a building design that suits its surroundings, Apple also aims to create an experience for the customers. So, in each Apple Store "half the physical space is devoted to ownership experiences," explained Johnson. "It's about creating a great experience once you've bought the product."

"Most retailers view their space as the square footage they rent. We view our space as the environment we inhabit," said Johnson.

What does the future hold for the high street?

Lastminute.com and online furniture retailer Made.com's co-founder Brent Hoberman believes that technology can be used to strengthen brands. "In the near future we're going to see an awful lot of visualisation technology," he told The Telegraph. "Returns with sofas were often because people couldn't fit it through the door, but we're going to see people uploading floorplans of their houses so that we know how everything will fit in. And augmented reality means that we will be able to see what items will look like in place, too".

He thinks that it is still important to have a physical presence, as demonstrated by his made.com showroom. "It's a very small percentage of shoppers who visit it," he admits, but adds that there is something "reassuring" about it for customers.

Hoberman says that he thinks high street outlets will essentially become advertising for a brand, which will then allow users to shop online. "Big shops will become sort of brand cathedrals," he argues.

Future shopping projects such as the Battersea Power Station that's set to open in 2016 and be completed in 2024, will need to consider how technology could affect retail and the high street in years to come.

"It's clear that as online shopping has grown in popularity so planners, developers and retailers are going to have to work harder and harder to bring people into town centres and retail developments," says Rob Tincknell, Battersea's Chief Executive. "High Street shopping needs to evolve so visitors are offered not just a variety of shops, but also a variety of recreational opportunities. That means shops, cafes, galleries and restaurants side by side and framed with architecture and landscaping that make it a stimulating and rewarding place to visit."

"Shops themselves will need to evolve to serve a generation of customers who may well want visit a shop in order to experience the product - but will ultimately transact online," he added.

 

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