The decision to make the Surface tablet available through third-party sellers, hints at a show room future for the high street.
Although Microsoft has yet to reveal sales data for its Surface tablet, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, has referred to figures as “modest”. There are several possible reasons for this slow uptake, one of which is Microsoft’s decision to initially make the tablet exclusively available through its website and US stores.
Both the Surface and its operating systems (Windows 8 and Windows RT) are very different from previous Microsoft products and retail for a minimum of £399. Yet despite launching a high profile advertising campaign, UK consumers were not initially offered a chance to test the device. The American technology giant has since agreed to sell the tablet through John Lewis, but may have missed out on significant Christmas sales.
Adapting to Consumer Behaviour
As more and more people visit shops to test a product before seeking out a lower price online, retailers need to change their business strategy. For struggling shopping outlets, this new behaviour may well provide a number of opportunities.
The most obvious relates to consolidating stock, but could also extend to working with suppliers. Camera manufacturers, for example, are unlikely to favour a future where the only existing outlets are huge chains, as this would significantly reduce their bargaining power.
In addition, increasingly popular Click and Collect delivery models have seen a rise in the number of shops being used as collection points. As parcel deliveries become unsustainable, this could prove a valuable commodity for retailers looking to satisfy online shoppers whilst driving footfall to stores.
Opportunities amidst Disruption
The high street no longer has a future as the transactional hub of the retail sector, but may continue to play an important role in informing customer decisions. The radical change in consumer behaviour represents an opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to review current strategies and optimise for the future.