For years, it seems like there has been a war between the High Street (ie: local stores) and its online counterpart, e-commerce. A recent whitepaper published by IMRG addresses the friction between these two types of retailing — and how they might be able to get along going forward.

Here are some background stats from the whitepaper: Approximately 25,000 local brick-and-mortar stores closed between 2000 and 2011, while town and city foot traffic fell 26% between 2007 and 2013. During this time, however e-commerce retailing skyrocketed. According to IMRG, “since 2002, all real non-food retail growth has effectively come from e-commerce.”

The whitepaper takes a closer look at how competition between online and High Street retailers has affected:

  • Where we shop
  • When we shop
  • How we shop

From the popularity of online shopping, it seems that consumers have just switched their purchasing habits from brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce, but it’s actually not that simple. The whitepaper notes that while some consumer categories, like books and electronics, are easy to move online, others are pretty much impossible- such as services like haircuts. There are also hybrid categories, such as take-away food that you can order online, but it’s not feasible to deliver it from national distribution center. The report notes that “A local ‘High Street presence’ is still needed to fulfill fresh hot food.”

Can’t we all just get along?

Are the High Street and e-commerce destined to be at odds forever? The answer is: not necessarily. Maybe we can all get along! IMRG suggests some solutions that would encourage collaboration and boost sales for both sides, using mutual cooperation.

The “click-and-collect” concept is a growing phenomenon in the UK and worldwide. Consumers are able to order products online, such as groceries or electronics, and pick them up at a physical store location. This is a good way for High Street stores to offer customers added value and convenience through complementary online service.

Shoppers love the click-and-collect concept because it avoids delivery charges. So what’s in it for retailers? Apparently, more sales, as “consumers who click-and-collect spend more money… 25% of people make an unplanned add-on purchase when in the store.”

One important aspect to note with this phenomenon is that click-and-collect changes the point of sale from the store to online. This makes fast and easy checkout even more imperative than before.

Brick and mortar stores aren’t going away, but neither is internet shopping. This whitepaper offers a great overview of the challenges presented by competition between the two, as well as the potential benefits for both merchants and consumers when both sides can collaborate.