In some of my previous posts I discussed the reasons why people browse offline and buy online. By highlighting the drivers behind the trend of customers browsing in stores but then going online to purchase their items, what I was alluding to is the need for cross-channel symbiosis rather than revenue cannibalisation as we currently have it, achieved by improving the offline experience to provide customers with in-store access to the benefits of buying online.
In other words, a shift towards physical stores offering the customer access to the benefits of browsing and purchasing online, and vice-versa, rather than developing more avenues for making each channel independently attractive to the consumer in ways that simply result in cross-channel competition.
Jargon and twee titles aside, this is primarily a focus on cross-channel symbiosis, and the evolution of high street stores from one-dimensional product pushers into broader experience focused outlets. Somewhat in the way that the static ‘dial-up generation’ websites are now evolving along the rich experience web 2.0 route.
Some are doing this already, but more from the web-space into the offline world, like Etsy, who have just opened a real world store in Brooklyn; or ZoZa who tried a physical store for customers to try before buying online only (and failed); or former cosmetics pure play Bluemercury.com who've now set up physical outlets for customers who want to sample before buying. This shift of bringing the online experience offline is what I believe could be the start of the next generation high street – or as I call it, the High Street 2.0