Independent retailers that don't offer an online shopping experience are being left behind by tech-savvy store owners, according to a new study.
Research by Worldpay shows that businesses that embrace online payments are defying the tougher conditions on the high street and stealing a march on their bricks-and-mortar rivals - dubbed "digital dinosaurs".
The findings show that those small and independent stores that allow customers to buy online as well as in-store are seeing year-on-year growth of up to 8%. By contrast, retailers that don't have an ecommerce operation have seen revenues shrink in the past year.
Some sectors particularly benefit from investing in an online presence, according to the report:
- florists that provide customers with a mix of online and in-store shopping options have grown 8.34% in the past year, while bricks-and-mortar only stores have seen revenues decline by 0.41%;
- bakers and cake shops that allow online ordering have added 8.7% to their bottom line. Those that don't have seen revenues flat-line.
While ecommerce sales have played a part in fuelling this growth, the research also reveals that an online presence improves sales overall. In-store sales among digitally-enabled businesses grew at a far faster rate (+2.06%) compared with bricks-and-mortar only counterparts (-0.09%).
"Far from killing off traditional high street businesses, easy access to technologies like ecommerce is helping small business owners to reinvent their relationship with customers by being more flexible to their needs," said James Frost, UK cmo of Worldpay.
"UK shoppers still love heading to the high street, but it is not always practical, possible or convenient to do so … our data shows that real loyalty stems from giving customers a choice."
Shops that sell online are also attracting overseas sales and that is helping to protect them against the effects of sluggish UK sales. While UK spending on clothing contracted 2% in the past year, online spending on clothes by overseas shoppers has grown 23%. Average transaction values from overseas shoppers are about double the amount that UK shoppers spend and 30% of all foreign spending on clothes now happens online.
James Frost said: "Tougher trading conditions emerging over recent months have exposed a growing gap between the high street's digital 'haves' and 'have-nots'. When times are tough, it can be difficult for bricks-and-mortar businesses to do much to open up new revenue streams. Businesses that also sell online are finding they have far more options to offset any downturn in spending among their local customer base by targeting shoppers further afield, including abroad."