Liverpool’s high streets face 2020 revolution

Screen-less cash points and robot waiters are among the innovations which could shape Liverpool’s burgeoning shopping district in 2020, according to a retail technology expert.

Mobile lead, multi-channel and with an enhanced store experience are just a few of the ways the likes of Liverpool ONE, Bold Street and Lord Street, will adjust according to Retail Store founder Ian Tomlinson.

He said: “Whilst Liverpool was reinventing itself, so was the retail world and Liverpool ONE is a leading example of the new retail experience.

“It fuses together perfectly retail, digital and destination marketing.

“However our research has shown us, that as retailers invest more in technology and play catch up with the likes of China, Japan and USA, the face of Liverpool as a shopping destination could be very different in just a couple of years time.”

The Knowsley-based IT firm has just stepped into it’s 15th year, after being the first to introduce cloud technology to retailers internationally.

Created by Manchester-born Ian on the back of a napkin, the system allows retailers to track and manage stock, sales and inventory through a wholly digital platform.

With the apparent ‘threat’ to the high street posed by digital retailers and web-based platforms, Ian cites a shift in both culture and approach to this so-called ‘online ambush’.

“Industry buzz words like omni-channel exist for a reason,” says Ian, “we shop differently and we want different things from our retail environments.

“We no longer jump in our car or on the bus to get to the shops, buy our goods and return home.

“We dwell longer in evolving leisure-cum-shopping destinations; we desire the tangible experience of picking up the goods after we have researched deals, details and discounts online.

“And more often than not, we still want the social aspect of shopping, whether that be meeting with friends to dine, drink and shop, or sharing our hauls on social media.”

Ian forecasts that the consumer will not only desire a quicker, more efficient way to shop with the increased used of mobile technology as a form of payment and to house loyalty apps, but screenless ATM’s could also be a nuance quickly adopted by destinations like Liverpool ONE to create a seamlessly integrated experience.

“Iris and retina scanners as well as fingerprint technology are already being trailed as are pre-order app drinks at Starbucks,” said Ian.

“Robots are serving customers at Pizza Hut in Tokyo and there’s a zero clicks app for Dominoes being tested.

“All of this helps to reduce the so-called ‘friction’ with customers and enhances the experience. It’s not outlandish to say that we could see versions of these kinds of technology in Liverpool within a matter of years.”

With digital forward stores like Argos in Liverpool ONE, the influx of ‘show rooming’ will increase, says Ian, with customers being able to choose from ‘extended digital aisles’ offering a wider range of products, colours and styles, for in-store or home delivery.

“This means the brand can still have that interaction with their customers without the need for housing huge amounts of stock,” added Ian, “helping them to better manage their inventory and with unnecessary financial outlay.

“This is a tactic which could have saved the likes of BHS, who stuck with the old model of retailing and fell victim to the rapidly growing evolution of multi-channel consumerism.”

With an Amazon Click and Collect hub and Doddle Collect and Return station, abundant parking and well connected public transport, Liverpool ONE is already ahead of the curve in achieving that omni-channel experience, says Ian.

But the future of Liverpool as a shopping destination, not only relies on retailers keeping up with the heartbeat of the consumer, but the understanding that the consumer still desires that experience of shopping and to make it a more enjoyable experience, each and every time.

“Whether you’re a Millennial or from Gen X, we know that what makes the consumer tick is a lot different to how it was even five years ago,” added Ian.

“The interesting point is that now, with advances in technology happening every day, the speed at which the shift change will happen will be monumentally quick, and I for one am excited.”