10th April 2019

Following the news that a record number of high street shops closed in the UK in 2018, see commentary below from Andrew Fowkes, head of data analytics giant SAS’s Retail Centre of Excellence.

“These high street figures reinforce the trend we’re seeing across all consumer-facing industries: experience is now essential to customer retention. It’s telling that ice cream parlours, bookshops and vape outlets have seen growth on the high street this year – these shops present themselves as places to be, not just places to buy.


“Banks, fashion retailers and electrical stores, on the other hand, are all still operating under the ‘warehouse’ mentality, without making any significant effort to build an experience that makes customers feel known and involved. High street players need to analyse the customer data available to them to generate actionable insight and drive intelligent personalisation in-store as well as online.


“Our recent research found that around a third of shoppers still see personal interaction with an assistant as the best form of personalisation (32%) and will only buy something after they’ve experienced it in a store (31%). Getting the store experience right is essential – but that means something different now compared to ten years ago.


“High street retailers need to use advanced analytics and AI to quickly process customer data, both online and offline, to guide the in-store experience in real time. What do customers in your local area want? What makes them feel comfortable and known? How do you help them find the products they want without having to ask?


“AI-based customer analytics can help the high street turn the tide. We need to see a change in mindset, but the high street can still have a bright future.”

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