Lack of digital presence causes independent retailers to miss Christmas traffic, reports Worldpay


Consumers are snubbing small and independent shops this Christmas because they do not provide the same digital shopping experience of the larger retail firms.

According to new research from Worldpay, almost three in ten (28%) consumers will choose large retailers over smaller and local shops this Christmas, because independent retailers make it more difficult to research and buy goods online.

Meanwhile over a third (36%) of respondents say a lack of delivery options, concerns over availability of items in-store, and inflexible returns policies keep them away from independent retailers at the busiest time of the year.

Worldpay’s UK managing director, Dave Hobday, said that unless these retailers embraced digital more effectively, they could be damaging their chances of growing their businesses by missing out on key events in the retail calendar such as Christmas.

“It’s a mistake to think that online and digital are not relevant to small retailers, and that it’s enough to have a presence on the High Street,” said Dave Hobday. “The way people shop and interact with retailers has transformed in the past few years – consumers see shopping as one experience whether online or on the high street. Businesses who fail to adapt are at risk.”

The vast majority (87%) of purchases this Christmas will be in some way influenced by online and mobile channels; whether that’s avoiding the high-street entirely (47%), browsing online before hitting the shops (27%), or performing high-street reconnaissance before buying gifts online.

It is not all bad news for smaller shops however, as the research found that most consumers say they support smaller retailers, and want them to survive and thrive during the Christmas period. This is because they offer unique items when three quarters (73%) of us freely admit we’re in need of inspiration.

The key to survival for smaller high-street retailers is to provide the type of highly personalised, unique selection which consumers are looking for, but with the flexibility to satisfy consumer expectation regardless of how they want to purchase and receive goods. Setting up an e-commerce function can be simple and cost efficient by using a trusted third party to help take online payments securely.

Hobday continued: “Shop owners might fear that ‘digital’ will require hugely expensive investment in technology and supporting systems. A little goes a long way however and a simple website, incorporating product descriptions and an e-commerce function could be a worthwhile investment if it means securing additional streams of customers.”

Research of small business owners conducted by Worldpay earlier in this year found the average small business spends around £2,000 to get their website up and running*.

Hobday concluded: “Ultimately, digital shouldn’t be a distraction from what smaller and specialist retailers do best – which is to provide unique products and great service. A few simple digital tools, which are widely available and cheap to implement, are all they need to start providing the digital shop window that today’s shoppers have come to expect.”

Worldpay’s infographic provides a useful indication about how much small business owners are investing in their websites as a proportion of revenue.