Independents look to take on retail giants in fight for share of online market
Later this week, MyHigh.St, the British Independent Retailers Association, Rakuten’s Play.com, Action for Market Towns and the Association of Town and City Management, will join forces to launch new online marketplace MyHigh.St which will give high streets and independent retailers an online e-commerce presence.
The coalition said the website will offer a combination of e-commerce and a High Street showcase, as well as a “click and collect” service and an independent shops’ loyalty scheme. While the website will offer visitors the chance to shop online at independent retailers, it will also encourage them to visit the shops in person.
At the launch on Thursday, the coalition will reveal how a new report from MyHigh.St and its partners shows that a third of people do not believe that their High Street has a future, with half saying that they are not proud of their local High Street.
The report, entitled A Nation of Shopkeepers, will also reveal that four in 10 people are scared of losing their High Street, with the figure rising to 49% among women.
The findings, conducted by ICM and based on a poll of 2,000 people, also found that:
• Over half of people (56%) think there is not enough choice on the High Street
• Four in 10 (44%) think there is a lack of originality in the products chain stores sell
• A third of people (33%) believe that the staff in chain stores are often unfriendly, and that there is overcrowding on the shop floor
• Almost a third of people (30%) said they were more likely to shop in small, independent stores in the wake of stories about large businesses avoiding paying corporation tax
• Two thirds want a High Street which has a good mix of independent and chain stores.
Loaye Agabani, co-founder of MyHigh.St, said: “The High Street is facing its toughest ever battle. This year has seen our town centre chains shut more than thirty shops per month as the pressure from online competitors, out-of-town shopping centres and the economic climate took its toll. Independent retailers are currently holding their ground with their focus on service and product differentiation but we worry this is not sustainable as competition grows – we need to take these attributes and help this community thrive, not just survive.
“After numerous reviews, reports and pilots programmes, it’s time for action. Our website empowers independent retailers to fight back against the rise of online shopping from faceless warehouses, showing them that the internet, when used effectively, can boost their business and get money flowing back into their tills.”
Shingo Murakami, managing director of Rakuten’s Play.com, added: “We have built a global business by harnessing the power of the internet to help smaller businesses compete and grow; whilst protecting their individuality and their brands. With 40,000 online retailers in Japan alone we know that this approach delivers for retailers and consumers alike. We are committed as part of our growth in the UK to providing an alternative to the traditional product driven approach of the established e-commerce players and to bringing MyHigh.St’s independent retailers to our 16 million UK customers.”
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