Partnerships for the future of the high street

By Caroline Gorski: Managing partner for Retail & Leisure, Telefónica UK

Yesterday, I attended the Future High Street Summit which aims to inspire and educate attendees about the changing nature of the high street in order to prepare for the future. In attendance were a number of influential figures from the Retail and Local Government industries all looking to share their experiences and insight.

Events like these are crucial to foster partnerships, share best practice and explore the integration of technology into the customer experience. With online retailers now holding as much if not more influence than some of the high street brands we all know and love, adapting to meet the challenges posed by online competition by offering a multi-channel experience is essential.

To truly support the industry and drive this change, O2 became a member of the Digital High Street Advisory Board which recently published The Digital High Street Report 2020. The report shows how communities, including small businesses, public service providers and charities, can benefit from integrating digital technologies into the high street to meet customer expectations.

We are at the forefront of this campaign, supporting high street innovation by developing and implementing technologies that empower more engaging shopping experiences.  At the summit yesterday, I gave a presentation on Experiential Retail showcasing how retailers can use technology and big data to attract, understand and engage customers more effectively. This approach is something that high street retailers, including Homebase and Waitrose, have already begun to adopt.

But it doesn’t end there. To keep the variety of the high street alive, independent retailers also need to tap into the digital opportunity. O2 is currently supporting independent retailing in Leeds by working in partnership with Leeds Ventures. Leeds Ventures are running a series of projects including the creation of Independent Leeds which comprises the ‘Little Black Book guide’, a website and innovative Radius app to help visitors navigate hidden retail gems. They’ve also launched Leeds Welcome which showcases what’s on and aims to encourage the local community to be ambassadors for the city focused on welcoming and informing visitors.

What these projects illustrate is the vast opportunities made possible through technological innovation, collaboration and strategic partnerships. Together, we can help energise the high street and ensure that retailers, and their employees, are prepared for the future.

For more information on how O2 is supporting the retail industry visit our website. What do you think the high street of the future look will like? Let me know by tweeting @CarolineGorski or use #O2forRetail.