It can sometimes pay to take risks with technology

As large high street retailers suffer at the hands of digital competitors, Rob Langston asks what’s coming next in the e-commerce revolution?

The internet has revolutionised the way consumers engage with retailers over the past decade. Indeed, the rise in e-commerce has ensured that even the most stalwart of high street retailers have not been safe from changing consumer trends.

The failure to develop a strong e-commerce offering was held as a significant factor in the difficulties faced by entertainment retailer HMV and camera specialist Jessops. The businesses had been accused of neglecting online sales in favour of maintaining a costly high street presence.

Online shopping has changed the way the UK behaves. The Office for National Statistics reports that non-seasonally adjusted online sales remained at a high of 10.4 per cent during March, as poor weather kept people indoors and at their computer screens.

“If you can’t reach consumers where and when they want, your competitors will, quickly taking market share, eroding your scale, and hurting your ability to operate profitably,” says  Bain & Company partner Nick Greenspan. “Books and music saw the first wave, but few categories are safe.”

And things are likely to change further with the introduction of augmented reality technology, which many believe will have an even more profound effect on e-commerce.

“Augmented reality, or more accurately image recognition technology, is going to play a critical role in enabling instantaneous e-commerce off any physical trigger image simply by ‘looking at it’ through a phone, tablet or smart device,” says Jess Butcher, chief marketing officer of Blippar.

“Whether through a closed shop’s window, off a magazine page or a bus stop poster, the whole static world will effectively become shoppable.”