What is in the article?
- The future of our town centres is full of hope
- New technology will not only help local businesses survive, but they will be able to compete with the likes of Amazon and thrive.
- Emerging from the pandemic is a massive opportunity for businesses of all sizes.
What do you think about the future of the UK’s towns and cities?
There has been a lot of discussion about this. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has gone on record stating that his intention is to find a way to redress the balance in favour of the high street, and away from online giants such as Amazon. Read more here.
So there is a clear desire in government to support the high street – but are punitive measures the way forward? We at Kernow Merchant Services see a different future. This leads us to ask the question ‘How will new technology impact our towns and cities?’
The impact of technology.
There are a lot of technology options available. At the front of our minds at the moment is technology we are using now to remove covid unsafe choke points in establishments. You can use mobile apps to prevent areas becoming busy when orders and payments happen – apps where cafes, restaurants and pubs can take orders directly from the consumer and receive payment in the same place.
Campers can book into their pitches, connect to utilities and check out remotely – reducing the need to have face to face contact. The same can be done with box offices – with tickets reserved, bought and emailed instantly whilst the customer is on site is an option to avoid queues and unnecessary contact.
What else is there to attract people to the towns and cities?
As can be seen in this article where Truro is receiving large amounts of funding to develop into a ‘go-to’ destination rather than a simple shopping and office hub, there is a drive to showcase these spaces as desirable destinations.
As well as new developments, our towns and cities are rich with historical significance. There are already apps allowing augmented reality technology to give detail and information about any scene a smartphone camera is pointed at – why not do the same for retail premises? We are used to ‘customers also bought’ listings on line – it won’t be long before this is available ‘in real life’ too.
So why do we need shops any more?
Microsoft announced their intention to keep their flagship stores only as an ‘experiential destination’ for potential customers – not a store. You can visit and experience the technology but you need to order from the online store (read more here). This is an extreme version – but it is clear that the convenience of order and delivery is going to be an integral part of the process.
One thing the pandemic has taught us is that we are social beings. We respond well to contact with our fellow humans and having the opportunity to engage with others will remain an important part of our lives. Being able to visit a physical location to engage with an actual person will be important – but there is no reason that we can not exploit the convenience of the delivery systems we have become used to with online shopping.
We are on a journey of change
Right now technology is helping us provide solutions for businesses who rely on people being present to be Covid safe. Our products allow you to remove the need for customers to enter your building or congregate in one place to either order or pay (and it can all be done with a mobile phone)
In the future the same technology will develop into a hybrid of the best elements of both on and off line shopping experiences helping towns and cities attract and retain customers, jobs and businesses.
The high street is far from dead – but it is evolving. Find out more about where you fit in by calling one of our consultants or sending a message via this form. We are also interested in your thoughts on how new technology willimpact our towns and cities?
Over the next few weeks, look out for our in-depth analysis of the various topics that have been mentioned in this article.