The positive disruption to retailers caused by technological advancements

Online shopping has revolutionised the industry

The speed at which changes and advancements in technology have occurred over the past 100 years has far eclipsed any other developments in an industry over the years. Many people have seen developments within their lifetime that include the launch of the internet, smartphones, home gaming consoles and virtual-reality headsets. Things that today’s children now take for granted didn’t exist when we were their age, and nowhere is this more obvious in day-to-day life than in the retail industry.

Online shopping revolutionised the industry. People were no longer limited to local shops and could access a wider variety of options. With the success of the online retail industry came further developments to make it easier, quicker, and safer for customers to shop online. Alternative payment options like PayPal and Klarna made online shopping more accessible for everyone.

The proliferation of smartphones also made online shopping easier because customers could download apps for their favourite shops and use them to search for items, save and share wish lists, and compare products at the touch of a button.

The effect on the high street

Contactless technology has made it easier for people to pay for their shopping

As the retail industry moves towards providing a more convenient experience for the customer, this has had a knock-on effect on high street shops. With it now being so easy to shop from home, footfall into physical stores has fallen in certain sectors. A lot of people still enjoy the shopping experience, especially where a more tactile approach is needed, for example when buying clothes or perfume, or as a social activity with friends. But some stores, especially those who were unable to compete online, have struggled.

However, the introduction of contactless technology has also made it easier for people to pay for their shopping in real life, self-checkouts have reduced queue times, and click-and-collect has given customers more control over how they shop. Not every advancement has driven customers online.

How the gambling industry has responded

Another industry which has seen similar disruptions is the gambling industry. Traditionally, casinos and betting shops required a visit in person, but the last 20 years has seen the online gambling marketplace boom. Apps and websites have made it quicker and easier than ever to place bets, track results, and collect winnings. 

Online casinos have also become hugely popular, with many land-based venues launching their own online site and offering existing customers a familiar place to play. Downloadable apps make them playable on-the-go, and the same range of payment options are available to gamblers and is available to online shoppers.

Rather than creating two competing worlds – online and land-based – the gambling industry has two parallel streams which manage to co-exist and serve the needs of different customers. Like social shoppers, many players love the experience of a casino night out, with friends, food, drinks, and entertainment all rolled into one. Others, prefer the quiet and privacy of playing alone as a way to unwind after work. For those seeking a mixture of the two, you can play at a live casino.

Positive impacts of technological changes

The online world is open 24/7

The biggest impact technological developments have had on both the retail and gambling industries is in making them much more accessible to customers, thereby increasing their consumer bases. People no longer need to travel, so not having transport or needing accessibility adaptations won’t exclude customers. And with almost every adult in the UK owning either a smartphone or a personal computer, there are very few potential customers who are excluded from accessing online shops and casinos.

Shops have traditionally operated within set hours which can be severely limiting for those who work night shifts, weekends, and unpredictable hours. The online world is open 24/7, so it’s as easy to do your Christmas shopping at 3am as it is at 3pm. 

Because everything is automated, from payment processing to confirmation emails, customers don’t need to interact with another person unless they want to. For people with social anxiety, additional needs, language barriers etc., this drastically widens their options and makes online retail and gambling completely accessible.

Traditionally people have needed a bank account with a debit card in order to make online purchases. But now there are other options, including ways to make monthly payments for purchases without needing a credit card. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) options are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer much more flexibility around purchases and give customers more control over their finances.

Outlook for the future

The online industry is definitely here to stay, but many people wonder whether it will grow to such a size that it completely eclipses land-based retail, and we see the disappearance of all other forms of shopping. However, looking at the way that the gambling industry has evolved it’s clear that it is possible for both online and land-based operations to co-exist as both benefit slightly different types of customer.

It is clear that online demands continue to grow, and the retail industry needs to keep adapting in order to keep up. While online-only stores are very successful, those that don’t have an internet presence are much more limited in their growth options. Perhaps the continued development of virtual reality and augmented reality will soon be able to bring shops direct into people’s homes and let them browse the goods from the comfort of their sofa in a way they have never been able to before.

In conclusion

Technology continues to enhance our lives, offering customers more options for not only how they want to shop and purchase goods, but also how they pay for and receive them. While some of these changes appear to have negative effects, especially on physical shops, they are also increasing accessibility and widening the customer base. Technology has its pros and cons, but overall, the retail sector is seeing a net-positive effect.