Not so long ago, the retail conversation was dominated by the demise of traditional brick-and-mortar outlets, and their equally inevitable replacement by the shiny new world of online shopping and e-commerce. Why bother tramping into town on a rainy day to put up with surly shop assistants and a lack of choice, the argument went, when you could get anything you wanted delivered the next day, often at a far lower cost?
But reports of the death of the high street have been greatly exaggerated. And although online retail may be quick, convenient and more cost-effective, it can also leave retailers in the dark when it comes to who their customers are and what they actually want. Savvier companies are now tapping into the huge reserve of customer data that physical stores can harvest, using technology to improve the customer journey, and building a vibrant retail future from the best aspects of physical and virtual shopping experiences.