Whereas previously at Christmas women were renowned high-street warriors, pacing the streets, elbowing their way through the crowds and generally spending far too long deliberating over trivial gifts, men were content to sit at their desks and order presents online. However, the worm has turned, and women will overtake men as the biggest online spenders this Christmas, according to Nielsen NetRatings.
But where does this leave the high street? Players such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have fared well, with both firms reporting good growth over the past month or so, but this growth includes sales on their web sites. The larger players have streamlined their retail outlets, improved online delivery times and have a closer integration between store and site.
High-street retailers are finally changing their strategies and this is exactly where the channel fits in. While the bigger players such as John Lewis or Currys already have good-quality, fast and efficient online supply chains, most of the mid-market retailers are still floundering.
The high street has become a showroom and demo suite for the general public; it is no longer a point of sale and, until the mid-market players start to capitalise on this shift, they are likely to suffer. For high-street retailers such as the likes of Richer Sounds or Sevenoaks High-Fi, they are sure to struggle if they are not able to get their web sites and supply chains in order. If this is to be the case they are likely to need much more Amazon-like IT systems – larger servers, better back-end capabilities and considerably more efficient payment and delivery systems.
The channel is capable of delivering all of this for these retailers and, since most shops take 60 per cent of their revenue over the Christmas period, now might be the perfect time for channel players to pay a visit to their local high street.
Happy Christmas from all of the team at CRN, and have a very prosperous New Year.
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