20130115-094338.jpg

Within a week two big and well established UK retail chains will more than likely disappear for good. For Jessops that’s already happened, for HMV it’s about to. It continues the trend from the last couple of years that the High Street is dying and dying fast, for goods that can be sold and consumed via the Internet will destroy your physical business presence. Music, film, games, electronics, clothing, white goods, food, furniture; they are all available online and in most cases cheaper and instantly available or delivered next day.

And it’s all your fault.

As a society we are programmed to hunt bargains now, compare prices and go for the cheaper and convenient option. How many times have you wandered into a store only to check via a mobile app where you could get an item cheaper ? We flock to the sales and rub our hands with glee at the (perceived) bargains to be had with just a small nagging voice in our heads that the retailer is about to go broke but it doesn’t stop us. And when the Closing Down Sale banners are erected the locusts descend and it’s only when the shop is bare and the doors finally close do we wake from the frenzy and realise the impact. Another failed business, another group of people out of work.

And it’s all your fault.

You failed to spot the trends in shopping habits, you didn’t bother to alter your retail experience and align with how consumers react and buy, you scoffed at creating a seamless experience between the high street and online, you didn’t bother to check whether prices elsewhere were cheaper than yours, you didn’t realise that people only visited your shop as a showroom and bought online. You couldn’t even be bothered creating an online presence, Twitter, eBay, Amazon and Facebook were jokes to you. And now you stand with the keys to your shop, staring at the closed doors as the accountant and administrator breaths heavily behind you. The leasing agents can no longer rent out the shell you leave behind. Shopfitters are out of work. Retail staff move from shop to shop in search of work.

And it’s all your fault.

Shopping is changing rapidly. The internet has altered how consumers buy for good. Everything is moving online and instream. Physical presence is merely window-shopping for consumers who are fussy and want to try before they buy. There’s little reason to have to pay business rates, overheads and staff costs when an online presence keeps them to a minimum and your processes and customer experience is rewarding. Customer service is changing rapidly to match. It’s all happening in virtual centres, pods of people taking and fulfilling orders and resolving complaints.

This is all nothing new and yet chains fail to react.

And traditionalist consumers will live in ghost towns filled with small convenience stores and local butchers. In some ways towns and villages will revert to what they once were, communities that support local business, people happy to shop for the essentials, meet their neighbours and chat about the weather. In person.

The High Street is dead and it’s all your fault. But it might not be such a bad thing after all.