A study recently completed by retail analysts has suggested that the birth of 4G in the UK could have a major impact on retailers; with experts predicting it likely to increase retail spending by up to “£1.8 billion a year”.
The study has suggested that with the imminent widespread release of the technology resulting in faster and more reliable mobile connectivity, consumers will be increasing the number of online purchases whilst on the move.
4G will allow shoppers to browse the web with speeds between five & ten times faster than the current 3G networks, meaning that shoppers are less likely to become frustrated with slow downloads and slow loading pages; an all too familiar experience – especially in densely populated areas such as cites, busy train stations, and of course high streets.
Whilst great news for retailers on the most part, further increases in online purchases could speed up the decline of an already contracting high street. In response, some retailers are seeking to innovate and diversify to enhance customers’ in-store experience.
For example, Topshop and Selfridges in London have now built ‘chill out’ style rooms- giving shoppers (or bored husbands and boyfriends) the opportunity to relax before venturing back out to the busy shop floor. While the likes of Burberry have gone a step further; turning their Regent’s Street store into ‘Burberry Live World’, where they are piloting interactive technology such as 22ft-high screens, 500 hidden speakers, a hydraulic stage, and even RFID mirco-chipped clothes and ‘smart mirrors’. Guest Ipad’s for customers to browse collections and view video content are fast becoming a common feature in brand high street stores.
Of course while the likes of Arcadia group can afford to have snazzy technologies and gadgets in store, and spend huge amounts of money on Google adwords and Big Data, the same is not true for smaller, independent stores. How those will cope in a choppy economic climate and on what is increasingly looking like an even more uneven playing field, remains to be scene.