A new organisation has launched that aims to revive high streets across the UK by helping retailers to become more digitally connected
Savethehighstreet.org will seek to empower shop owners with better technology strategies and skills – for example, by helping smaller retailers to improve their online sales, as well as offering educational seminars.
It has published a 10-point manifesto, which sets out a vision of high streets that make full use of real-time data, offer best in class fulfilment options and connect with customers across channels, among other things.
The group has been set up by a cross-industry group of organisations including IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group), the Future High Streets Forum, Tech City UK, Google Digital Garage and Pocket High Street, as well as retailers. It hopes to sign up 125,000 businesses over the coming year, who will be encouraged to share best practice.
IMRG has produced its own report, Retail Reimagined 2016, detailing how high streets can change to remain relevant in the internet age.
The report offers positive suggestions and practical advice, but warns it is impossible to compete with “tech sector giants” like Amazon when playing by their rules.
It argues that there will need to be a huge concerted effort to overhaul the way digital commerce works on the high street, but the appetite for innovation and a new value proposition mean the time is right to try.
IMRG is also launching a digital high street data panel to help monitor sales data. It will offer a “freemium” membership for bricks-and-mortar retailers, aimed specifically at independents, in exchange for data to help retailers track trends and allow complex analysis.
James Roper, chairman and founder of IMRG, said: “High streets must change to remain relevant in the internet age but most [retailers] don’t know how to and need a lot of help. Savethehighstreet.org will bring a centralised, substantial solution that can directly enable all local retailers to fully engage in the digital economy.”