Can Digital Save the High Street?
For years, now our local high streets have been barely getting by.
The transition to eCommerce and rise in online shopping is often blamed as the main cause of their struggles. Experts have been crying out for the two to build tighter connections to try and save the high street and physical stores. Many stores have fallen into administration for ignoring these warnings.
However, 2020 has forced businesses to look at the world differently.
With lockdown creating the most difficult period for high streets - can online shopping finally go from the villain to the hero in this narrative?
Everyone has had to adapt this year and many efforts have been focused on preparing for the unknown. And the high street is no different.
Months of being closed in the first lockdown meant land, space and rent were simply being wasted on buildings empty of shoppers but full of stock. Stock that couldn’t be sold to the enthusiastic online shoppers over lockdown, costing businesses an insanely large amount of money.
This couldn’t happen again the second time around.
Lush recognised that their flagship Oxford Street store could be used for more than just shopping, thanks to “a rush of online orders flood[ing] the website the moment physical shops closed” (BBC). So, with a three-storey shop stocked full of products that were destined to be wasted, they adapted and re-trained their staff to run a local distribution centre.
What started as a one-store-operation, soon went company-wide! Plus, even though stores are back open for customers, Lush Oxford Street are continuing to pack online orders from staff-only areas.
A perfect combination of eCommerce and the high street. A match made in Heaven some might say.
Maybe it’s time to stop talking and just start doing!
Experiment with what works for you and your business structures. Of course, each business works differently and the eCommerce and physical retail stores operate in completely different ways. But it’s time they start working more closely together if we want to save the high street.
What makes Lush’s “Lush Local” service so special, is their ability to make online ordering so personal. Something that has been made increasingly important for companies to do by the continuous rise in Subscription Services.
They allow you to add special requests - "pop in the comment box any exclusives or samples you would like included" (Instagram).
Lush is breaking boundaries and doing the impossible by including personal, handwritten notes with every order!
This is something that I said couldn’t happen...
But Lush has made me eat my words!
It turns out that big brands CAN include these personal touches. It’s excellent to see Lush taking these initial steps.
By allowing the staff packing boxes to write these messages, it makes it clear to consumers that you’re not just supporting a corporation by buying from this large brand. You’re also supporting the individuals who work there. A great reminder in this challenging time. Especially for the high street.
Their system is not only personal to customers. It’s also in-keeping with their branding as each of their parcels are hand-delivered by bike. A much more eco-friendly way of getting parcels to your customers.
This is something that we know is important to Lush as they try to be as environmentally friendly as possible. But it’s also a great selling point for any business as socially-conscious shoppers are on the rise’.
As discussed in our previous blog, ‘Black Friday 2020 Is Cancelled’, these shoppers are now reluctant to shop with big polluting online stores. It’s more important than ever before for businesses to start focusing on their environmental output. And this is an easy way to do so!
Of course, this only benefits those that are in the local area, but that’s not a negative! It’s only another reason to open new local stores on our high streets. These stores can then be built ready to partner with eCommerce and work in harmony from the outset.
Will your business follow in Lush’s footsteps?
Create a strong partnership between your online and physical stores to maximise profits in every channel! Don’t give up on the high street just yet, because people are still out there.
If you want to grow your eCommerce team to help with this transition, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
3Search is an award-winning UK recruitment consultancy, specialising in marketing, strategy & transformation, and tech positions. Whether you’re seeking new talent or looking for your next career move, we can help. Learn more at www.3search.co.uk