20 April 2012 – With internet sales now estimated to account for 8.5 per cent of all retail sales values (excluding automotive fuel), high street stores must improve the shopper experience to buck the trend of outlets failing. That’s the warning from Tensator, a global leader in queue management technology to enhance the customer journey.
Data from the Office for National Statistics released today shows a continuing increase in online vs. offline retail sales. In March 2012 internet sales values (non-seasonally adjusted) increased by 15.2 per cent compared with March 2011.¹
This continued growth in online sales comes despite the fact that the value of retail sales in March 2012 also increased – by 5.7 per cent when compared with March 2011 – the largest monthly increase since January 2011. However, this was predominantly a result of consumers purchasing more fuel in case the threat of a fuel strike in the latter part of the month came to reality.
Alan McPherson, CEO of Tensator says that with uncertainty looming large in the retail market and following the news that more retail outlets closed in 2011 than were opened², there has never been a more important time for offline retailers to increase their bottom-line profits.
The average weekly value of Internet sales in March 2012 is estimated to be £484 million, up from £475 million in February 2012. “High street branches need to do more if they want to slow down the number of outlets closing and combat the shift to online shopping,” says McPherson. “We are urging retailers to improve the in-store experience and drive consumers back onto the high street.”
As a result of the increased awareness amongst retailers that the customer journey is crucial to driving sales, Tensator is partnering with many international retail brands including: New Look, Topshop, H&M, Carrefour, Duane Reade, BP, Tesco and Asda Walmart; to provide innovative solutions to improve every customer’s shopping experience, minimise queuing times and maximise sales.
A recent survey by YouGov³ that found that 59 per cent of people would not purchase anything if the queue was too long – meaning effective queue management is essential for busy retailers. Tensator has worked with high street brands to install stylish and effective in-queue merchandising (IQM) solutions from impulse boxes through to post top signage and alluring Electronic Call Forwarding (ECF) systems, ideal for use in particularly busy outlets to improve both customer engagement and queue flow.
“Innovation in terms of improving the customer experience will be the key as retailers, particularly on the high street, try and maximise their underlying profits to fight off online competition.” says McPherson.
Such innovations include Tensator’s most recent product development, the Tensator Virtual Assistant. The Tensator Virtual Assistant represents the next-generation in digital signage and uses the latest in audio-visual technology to create the illusion of a real person. Launched in 2011, it has been used in flagship retail stores in the UK and the U.S. and is fast becoming an ideal solution for retailers as an engaging method of conveying information, brand or promotional messaging in any language, representing an appealing tool for the customer.
“The impact of the recession is still ongoing, with certain areas of retail, like impulse purchases, being hit hard all potential obstacles have to be removed to encourage the consumer to spend, which is an area that Tensator specialises in. The retail side of our business is growing as retailers are looking for innovative solutions to drive spending by providing a better experience for their customers.
“Moving forward, it’s vital that offline retailers look closely at their customers and really understand what they now expect from a shopping experience, because this will impact positively on business profits,” McPherson concludes.
For more information on Tensator and its products, visit www.tensator.com