By Steven Hubbard, Non-Executive Director of Sprii
With just a few weeks to go until the end of 2023, it is difficult not to observe with interest the current retail dynamics in the UK, while also thinking of solutions that retailers could adopt to help face the challenges.
On paper, the latest figures paint a sobering picture: there has been a consistent decline in retail sales volumes over the past 6 months, with a notable 0.5% drop in October 2023, following a 1.1% decrease in September.
This downturn reflects the broader economic pressures squeezing consumer spending. These are also just the official ‘helicopter view’ figures. I predict that retailers could face as much as 20-30% less revenue during upcoming Black Friday and Christmas campaigns.
But, amidst the clear challenge, the steady rise in internet retail sales, capturing over a quarter of the market as of August 2023, signals a continued significant shift in consumer behaviour.
It’s for these reasons why ‘Live Shopping’ has and will continue to emerge as a strategic game-changer, especially with the more innovative technology solution such as Sprii. The approach from platforms such as these harness the increasing time that consumers are spending online and the seismic shift towards online as a compliment to the high street.
By integrating Live Shopping into brand-owned websites, retailers can exert greater control over the shopping experience, offer unique promotions, and glean valuable insights from customer data to personalise future interactions.
It’s not difficult to see the appeal of Live Shopping and understand its rise in popularity. Its strength lies in its capacity for real-time engagement and personalization. It replicates, and thus supports, the natural ‘human to human’ nature of physical shopping, allowing customers to closely inspect products, engage with experts, and receive a tailored shopping experience. This method is particularly impactful in the luxury goods sector, where the demand for a more immersive experience is high.
Additionally, the rise of in-house brand advocates in Live Commerce is transforming the landscape of influencer marketing. Store associates, with their deep product knowledge and trustworthiness, are becoming key influencers. This shift towards in-house expertise enhances authenticity and fosters a more personal, human-centric shopping experience.
The crux of Live Shopping is its human-first approach, adding the often missed, but vital, human element to eCommerce. This innovation is not just about emerging tech and innovative platforms; but clearly about creating genuine connections with customers – a factor that is fundamental in driving sales and strengthening brand loyalty. It is about the customer experience, always.
As UK retailers will no doubt face a double-edged sword of challenges; declining physical store traffic and increasing online competition, embracing Live Shopping offers a tangible solution. This is true not just as we head into Black Friday campaigns and the Christmas shopping period but also into 2024 and beyond.
Live Shopping offers a real opportunity to innovate, personalize, engage, and convert customers in new, meaningful ways!
This is the ideal solution to the struggles UK retailers face. Brands that adapt to this ‘trend’ are likely to see not only a boost in sales but also a significant gain in market share. Global economic situations and outlook may post the UK with challenges – but there are solutions if we are willing to think differently and adopt this ‘hybrid’ approach to eCommerce and the evolution of retail.