Following the BHS collapse and Austin Reed's closure, it's clear retailers' online offerings are not ready to save the British high street

 
Hedley Aylott
The Rescue Bid For BHS Fails Putting 11,000 Jobs At Risk
Attempts to find a deal to save the department store failed (Source: Getty)

Another day and yet another high street retailer announcing its financial struggles – this week it is Austin Reed and BHS.

The menswear retailer is closing 120 stores, after the announcement it was entering into administration in April.

BHS has also announced that thousands of jobs are going to be lost as a result of closing 163 stores. The high street is changing, and fast.

All of this is against the backdrop of online shopping growing by 13% year on year, with each month in 2016 achieving double digit growth so far.

Read more: Who has blood on their hands as yet another retailer falls into administration?

Despite the growth online, retailers are still struggling to grapple with the different challenges it throws their way. Even though shoppers are turning to the internet, the retail world is yet to get it right online. Consistently across the board retailers of all sectors fail to deliver what their customers want and expect in the digital age.

Can you imagine walking into a shop to look at a product but having to queue before you could? This is what slow site speeds do to your customers online. How about filling in a questionnaire before being able to purchase a product at the till? This is the in-store version of not having a guest checkout option. Or not being able to turn a product round so you can see it from all angles?

Most online product pages have poor quality imagery where this is not possible. All of these equivalents are happening online, and retailers are failing to realise the impact this has on the customer’s likelihood to buy and on their businesses’ bottom line.

Read more: Shoppers abandon high street to shop online

Looking at the top retailers in the UK, there are some surprising names that are struggling to get these simple yet crucial things right. Scratch the surface of even the biggest online retailers’ ecommerce offerings and it is clear that there are fundamental failures. For example, Tesco, Apple and Ocado are all not fulfilling the basic needs of online customers.

With more and more offline shops closing it’s inevitable that this will put pressure on retailers to sell better online. These retailers need to take action, and fast. At the moment, customers have little choice but to accept and deal with it – if we are looking for online to be the saviour of retail it has a long way to go.

Frustrations are growing and as retailers scramble to win this race, those that lose will find themselves in hot water of the digital kind.

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