Can customer experience revive the high-street?

According to some reports, the battle for the hearts and minds of UK shoppers is nearing its conclusion. E-commerce is victorious and all that’s left now for the high-street is a slow and sad decline. But at Market Force Information, we couldn’t disagree more with this point of view.

There’s no denying that, in the digital age, high-street retailers have never had it tougher and fighting tooth and nail not only to win new customers, but to keep existing ones. But while high-street retailers often struggle to compete with online retailers in terms of price, there are other areas where they hold the advantage. Chief among these is customer experience.

At Market Force Information, we’re experts in linking customer experience to revenue growth and have seen first-hand how high-street retailers have bucked the trend and achieved growth in extremely challenging conditions. So, we wanted to shed some light on shopping trends and habits in the UK to unlock some key insights that show how fruitful a renewed focus on customer experience can be.

So, we wanted to shed some light on shopping trends and habits in the UK to unlock some key insights that show how fruitful a renewed focus on customer experience can be. To do this, we asked an extremely robust sample of 2,827 individuals across the UK for their views. 

Here are the key findings:

People are still much more likely to shop on the high-street than online

Nearly six in ten (59%) UK shoppers shop on the high-street at least once a week. In the last 90 days, 40% of respondents were more likely to have shopped on the high-street, compared to just 30% of those who were more likely to shop online. A third of us shop equally on the high-street and online.

But online is gaining ground (and fast!)

Nearly a third of UK consumers (29%) shop online a few times a week, while an additional quarter shop online once a week. Meanwhile, 84% of us are now more likely to shop online compared to five years ago.

Slashing costs and offering deals are key to convincing shoppers to use the high-street more often

Over half (53%) of consumers said lower prices would lure them to the high-street, while 47% said discount offers. A full 40% thought cheaper parking was a key factor.

But it’s not all about the money – convenience and customer experience are also key

Better parking (30%), availability of items (27%) and exceptional customer service (24%) were the next most important factors for retailers looking to convince shoppers to use the high-street more often.

Customer experience is extremely important to shopper’s decisions over where to shop

Two-thirds (64%) of UK shoppers are more likely to return to the high-street after receiving excellent customer service. Customer loyalty is, of course, a key revenue driver.

And bad customer experience is to be avoided at all costs

In the last year, a huge 70% of UK shoppers have had such a bad customer experience that they resolved not to visit that store again. This just goes to show how even small customer experience errors can lead to losing a valued customer.

And the most commonly encountered customer experience failures over the last year?
  1. Slow service (encountered by 68% of shoppers in the UK)
  2. Unhelpful staff (65%)
  3. Item unavailable (52%)
  4. Unknowledgeable staff (50%)
  5. Rude staff (38%)
  6. Difficult to find item I wanted (35%)
  7. Confusing shop lay out (32%)
  8. Overly attentive staff (27%)

So, can customer experience revive the high-street?

Answering this question definitively is difficult, but what our research does show is just how important customer experience is and how powerful it can be in attracting and retaining shoppers, and helping to drive revenue.

In truth, the fight for market share is only just beginning...

Market Force Information helps multi-location businesses delight their customers and, ultimately drive revenue growth. For more information, please schedule a briefing with our team.

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