Archive for February, 2012
2012 is awash with news of companies such as Amazon and ASOS posting double digit growth figures, while the Thornton’s, Thomas Cooks and Kodaks of this world are shutting shop on the high street or pulling down shutters all together. Is this really then the beginning of the end for high street retail? Will Oxford Street in a few years look more like a warehouse compound used for collecting packages rather than a street with all the frills and fancies for a rich shopping experience? In the last few decades any major paradigm shift be it in the way we travel, read, listen to music has been dependant on practical, economic and emotive factors. If you are in a shop and hear a song that you like, you can Shazaam it, download it on ITunes and once in your car play it wirelessly off the stereo. Sounds like a dream, only it is the way it works these days. Hence it’s not too difficult to imagine a complete shift from Vinyl and cassette tapes to digital. However the emotive side in us keeps the vinyl stores alive in the back streets of Shoreditch and Soho. Shopping online provides you with an international mix of products, 24/7, often at a (perceived) discount and delivery to your door. This is a lot more agreeable than standing in long queues and running between shops to finish your shopping before they shut. Online companies are able to save costs on premium rentals on high streets, employ less staff, stay open 24×7 and minimise ongoing investment that are required to make the store look as inviting as possible to boost footfall. Despite all the conveniences and savings online, our collective memory going back many hundred years of going to markets still cannot kick the idea of browsing around stores, touch and feeling products and the joy of interacting with people. After all humans are social creatures and thrive in interactive environments. However, if people aren’t buying, how do these shops stay in business? Over the past few years every major retailer has observed the disruptive nature of e-commerce. It has without a doubt changed the way people consume products and services. Some companies have shut their eyes to this change and gone out of business while others have adapted by going online themselves and survived. There is however quite interestingly a 3rd development that has been taking place over the last 12 months. Traditional retail companies have realised that shopping online be it mobile or desktop is here to stay. E-commerce companies have lower costs hence will always beat them on price but they lack the ability to provide the physical experience to consumers. This has lead to furious innovation by these companies in multichannel marketing and provided a lifeline for their survival. Marks & Spencer, a traditional British store, now sells knickers and superior cakes by smartphone. House of Fraser has launched new HouseOfFraser.com stores in Aberdeen and Liverpool that act purely as order and collection points for goods. In South Korea people are busy at home and tired after a long day at work so Tesco have launched virtual subway stores offering the opportunity to shop while walking home, scanning QR codes to populate their shopping baskets and paying with their mobiles. The food is delivered by the time people reach home. Such innovation in multi-channel retailing is an indication of things to come where rather than being pure play, companies will be a lot more integrated across channels. This will not only ensure the survival of high street retailers but also revitalise their growth and put pressure on online retailers to focus on usability and customer experience.
In my first app review, I see it only fitting that I review a game, and not just any game, but one about my favourite subject, DOGS! The geniuses at Big Pixel Studios (creators of Land a Panda), released Off the Leash at the start of February, and for nearly two weeks I haven’t been able to put down my iPod.