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Independent retailers missing digital presence this Christmas
Consumers will choose large retailers over smaller and local shops this Christmas

Consumers are snubbing small and independent shops this Christmas because they do not provide the same digital shopping experience of the larger retail firms.

According to new research from Worldpay, almost three in ten (28 per cent) consumers will choose large retailers over smaller and local shops this Christmas, because independent retailers make it more difficult to research and buy goods online.

Meanwhile, more than a third (36 per cent) of respondents say a lack of delivery options, concerns over availability of items in-store, and inflexible returns policies keep them away from independent retailers at the busiest time of the year.

Worldpay’s UK managing director, Dave Hobday says that unless these retailers embrace digital more effectively, they could be damaging their chances of growing their businesses by missing out on key events in the retail calendar such as Christmas.

'It’s a mistake to think that online and digital are not relevant to small retailers, and that it’s enough to have a presence on the High Street,' Hobday says. 'The way people shop and interact with retailers has transformed in the past few years – consumers see shopping as one experience whether online or on the high street. Businesses who fail to adapt are at risk.'

The vast majority (87 per cent) of purchases this Christmas will be in some way influenced by online and mobile channels; whether that’s avoiding the high-street entirely (47 per cent), browsing online before hitting the shops (27 per cent), or performing high-street reconnaissance before buying gifts online.

It is not all bad news for smaller shops however, as the research found that most consumers say they support smaller retailers, and want them to survive and thrive during the Christmas period. This is because they offer unique items when three quarters (73 per cent) of us freely admit we’re in need of inspiration.

The key to survival for smaller high street retailers is to provide the type of highly personalised, unique selection which consumers are looking for, but with the flexibility to satisfy consumer expectation regardless of how they want to purchase and receive goods. Setting up an e-commerce function can be simple and cost efficient by using a trusted third party to help take online payments securely.

Hobday adds, 'Shop owners might fear that ‘digital’ will require hugely expensive investment in technology and supporting systems. A little goes a long way however and a simple website, incorporating product descriptions and an e-commerce function could be a worthwhile investment if it means securing additional streams of customers.'

Research of small business owners conducted by Worldpay earlier in this year found the average small business spends around £2,000 to get their website up and running.

Further reading on e-commerce

See also: Christmas is a 'crucial time' for retailers

Related topics: Entrepreneurs

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1 comment

Trevor Nelson

Great article Ben, it is apparent small retailers are certainly missing out on sales opportunities by not developing their digital presence. Trusted brands such as the big retailers do offer a relatively stress free process of ordering online, with options to collect in store, or rapid delivery to a collection point, or the consumers home. That said, small retailers do have significant advantages of providing specialist products that you cannot find elsewhere and with some fairly simple data gathering, can target those repeat customers fairly easily through digital promotions. Add to this the small business should have a far better idea of their customers demographics, they can adopt a sales strategy based on freely available shopper behaviour data. Throw in your point the goodwill that consumers have towards small businesses, it is clear that once you have engaged them, there is a strong possibility they will return. A small investment in an online presence, steering them to the relevant social media site, or perhaps in a relatively cheaply priced App could reap huge rewards.

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