Access to the internet has become something consumers increasingly demand when shopping, as smartphones and multichannel retailing mean they can access delivery services to order goods when on the high street or use their phones to check competing prices, according to an expert.
Tony Grace, chief operating officer at Virgin Media Business, said the increasing proliferation of Wi-Fi and mobile devices set up to access the internet has further entrenched the move of technology from the logistics and supply side of retail to the actual shop itself.
"Those that will be truly successful will be those that give the customer every opening they want and all the connectivity that they want," emphasised Mr Grace.
He added that new multichannel technology, if used in the correct way, can cut down on business costs and sustain margins while simultaneously improving the customer experience.
Mr Grace's comments came after Transport for London announced plans to allow Virgin Media to provide Wi-Fi access for commuters at up to 120 platforms on the London Underground, indicating the increasing penetration of the internet in the UK.
He argued that the increasing move towards web connectivity is being driven by consumers, who are demanding a multichannel retail experience across the board.
"We've reached that point where, even at an underground station on the tube in London, people expect to be connected. So it's absolutely the key - that's what's expected in the retail environment on the high street," explained the Virgin Media Business chief.
Furthermore, he indicated that the consumer reaction to installing Wi-Fi access on the underground was overwhelmingly positive, with a growing number of people simply expecting internet connectivity everywhere in the UK and at all stages of their day.
This is a sign to retailers who are yet to engage with multichannel shopping platforms that a synthesis of ecommerce and bricks-and-mortar shopping appears to be the preferred option of many shoppers in Britain, Mr Grace concluded.
Author: Paul Burn