In conversation with Weldon Whitener | Price Imparity and the Customer Journey
Ecommerce and the High-street has become an increasingly discussed topic this year, especially with recent closures of top department stores, and a steady decline in consumer demand for shopping in-store.
Being entirely focused on ecommerce, Retail Without Borders wanted to take a closer look at what is happening in the current retail climate, and the different aspects contributing to the survival and success of retailers amidst the boom in online shopping.
One significant factor often overlooked by retailers is price; specifically price imparity. Weldon Whitener, Chief Analytics Officer of Pricesearcher, the UK's largest product and price search engine, sat down with us to discuss his insights into price and why retailers should be using it as their strategy.
Pricesearcher is the UK’s largest product search engine and sends buying users out to thousands of retailers for free. Their users can view all of their buying options, which Pricesearcher are able to provide by removing all barriers such as cost and development.
So, pricing is always a sensitive subject, and with recent closure of many high-street retailers, their lack of success in recent times has been blamed on shopping online – the convenience factor of shopping online.
So in terms of how pricing and price imparity and how that plays a large part in terms of the sale proposition, how do you see this affecting the customer journey? And how do you see high street retailers combatting this?
“Sure, I completely agree; the bit I really agree on is that customer demands have changed, convenience is now quite a priority, so I think that ecommerce has done a really great job in catering to this need. That being said, do I feel that this is the end of the high street? Not at all.I think if you were to look back at what the high street was twenty years ago, it was a mixed space – it was retail, it was coffee shops, it was pubs, it was services; it was more of a hollistic experience, rather than what it’s now become, which I think is more acutely focused on retail, so people just go away, to go to the shop and then come back.
I think we’ll start to see a shift of high streets turning back into what they used to be, because what this does is it engenders an environment and kind of an ecosystem that ecommerce is never going to be able to replace. You’re not going to go to your online site to meet your friends and have a coffee and then drift into store to store to do some window-shopping – “Oh I didn’t realise the new line is out”. This will never be replaced by ecommerce so I think that we’ll see that shift back in, and I think it will sooner or later hit equilibrium of where it should be."
You can already see the suggestions of that happening on the high street at the moment – large fashion retailers, they have coffee shops that are inside. They might not necessarily be purchasing from there but they’re browsing, they’re looking… it’s more of a social enterprise piece than a direct go and purchase.
And similarly in terms of some of the sporting retailers that we work with, they implanted gyms on-site, so you actually go to the gym, and then you might buy something afterwards, but it’s all about, like you said, it’s the change and the revolution of the high street.