Preparing the modern high street for growth

We’re in the middle of the biggest upheaval to society since the industrial revolution. Technological disruption is challenging everything we once took for granted in the way businesses and consumers are expected to interact.  

Nowhere is immune to change. But as technology exerts an ever increasing influence on our day-to-day lives, the traditional high street finds itself very much on the front line. 

Today’s digitally driven consumers take for granted the ability to flit between in-store and online channels. And they want retailers to provide the same flexibility – regardless of their size. 

Shoppers want convenience when they’re in a hurry and know what they want. But they also want the opportunity to ask questions and get tailored advice. They also want everything right now, and to pay whichever way they choose. 

I’m not surprised that 61% of the small and independent retailers we surveyed across the UK see technology as a threat to the future of the high street. 

Change provokes conflict and what we’re seeing right now is a curious blend of excitement, innovation, confusion and apprehension. 

What’s certain is this: no retailer can expect to stand still and survive in the face of such fundamental changes to consumer expectation. 

Technology is not the enemy of the high street. In fact one recent report suggests digital technology could unlock £18.8bn of revenue for SMEs, while reducing their costs by up to a fifth1.

So I’m incredibly encouraged that the vast majority of small and independent retailers across the UK understand that embracing technology - rather than opposing – is the key to survival. 

As a true partner to small business owners across the UK, we’re committed to helping you make the most of this period of extreme change, providing the tools, insights and technologies to help you save time, reach new customers, and deliver the type of joined up retail experience modern shoppers want - whether that be by using ecommerce to open up new channels, using contactless to cut queues or mobile point of sale to provide a more bespoke customer experience in store. 

So I’m delighted that as part of a national awareness campaign, we will be partnering with the Association of Town and City Managers to illustrate the impact technology can have in helping small business owners grow through this period of change. 

On our dedicated iStreet hub we’ll provide practical guidance from a panel of small business experts including Apprentice winner Tim Campbell and other subject matter experts in marketing, accountancy and other professional services to provide insight and counsel that not only helps small businesses sell more but also realise  their larger ambitions.

1High Street UK 2020 Report

To kick the campaign off and provide the nation with real-world examples of what happens when small businesses embrace and invest in technology, we’ll be heading to the traditional seaside town of Great Yarmouth, where we’ll be helping local business capitalise on the benefits of technology, better understand some of the challenges they face and uncover new opportunities be that through greater business efficiency, new sales channels or better customer experience. These businesses will become living case studies for other small businesses across the UK on our hub. 

Stay tuned to track the progress of our campaign and get in touch with any questions, or insights you’d like to share on how you’re using technology to help you grow your business. Please follow Worldpay @Worldpay, and tweet with the hashtag #istreet.