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Talking Business: 'Online is an opportunity for retail, not a threat'

Chris Bishop is founder and chief executive of digital media agency 7thingsmedia.

It was with disappointment that I read the recent article ‘Ecommerce growth means more shops will shut’ (Drapers, December 20, 2014). It is 2015 -
15 years since and Net-a-Porter launched, and 23 years since Pipex first introduced dial-up internet to the UK. It is time to realise it is not the internet that is killing the high street, it is not ecommerce forcing shops to close and it is not the growth of online retail that will single-handedly close more stores - it is consumer behaviour.

This isn’t about online versus offline. There is no ‘e’-business, ‘e’-commerce, ‘e’tail or ‘e’-retail.

It is just retail, with as many active routes to market as possible, all working together. Yes, they can have separate business models, even profit and loss statements, but ultimately they are aligned in a proposition to the customer.

Businesses sadly will fail and shops will close, just as websites will. Woolworths, Comet, JJB Sports and Clinton Cards were (evidently in the end) poor businesses unable or unwilling to adapt, living on borrowed time. Change in consumer behaviour, demand and the weak economy
put them out of their misery.

What worries me is this hesitancy to evolve. Online retailing would have actually offered brands such as Woolworths and JJB a significant lifeline,
had they been more interested in competing in the digital age, rather than defending a glorious past.

So let’s stop hating online retailing or, for that matter, other typical fall guys such as out-of-town shopping centres, major supermarkets or the
price of parking.

Rather than commenting on any one channel cannibalising the other, let’s adapt to human behaviour and embrace the rise of the mobile age, millennial shoppers and the exciting new advances (yes advances, not threats) in technology that are changing our customers’ habits.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Mick Harwood

    I agree 100%. My company, Scoots Suits and Boots, started life as an online only company, but we have added a physical high street shop.

    Our plans for the future include growing our online business AND opening further high street shops.

    In my opinion, unless you are massive e.g ASOS, you can't survive without using both channels.

    The trick is to get both channels working in harmony.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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