The influence of multi-channel solutions on the UK retail industry continues to gather pace as more than 15% of customers now have access to a tablet device, the latest Deloitte research shows. This is transforming retailing and the property sector needs to review its future role but how can Landlords survive the digital revolution?

Without doubt, retailers are struggling to mount a recovery as disposable income and consumer confidence remains fragile. Many retailers sought to increase sales by investing in alternative digital channels and cut costs by reducing the size of their property and the property industry itself needs to react to keep pace of such innovative, fast paced technology.

Tablets let the consumer browse in the comfort of their own home and smart phones allow shoppers to purchase products whenever they want. However stores continue to underpin the shopping experience. Landlords can support the digital counterparts. We are now seeing “click and collect” being just one example of a solution to the remote retailing delivery dilemma. The customer still expects a convenient time to collect their purchase and from a friendly courier and therefore investment in the back office function is still required.

If the purchaser doesn’t want to wait at home for a delivery they can pick it up at the store at their convenience. Click and Collect supports the digital form for retailing and provides a key role for the store. Landlords can help facilitate and support this service.

Landlords can also help Tenants maximise return from their physical space by encouraging them to think more about each store as a business in its own right rather than simply part of a relatively uniform chain. Local markets have different economics; footfall and its spend often vary and Landlords need to foster an idea of partnership if both parties are going to protect their investments. Stores deliver a brand experience in a manner that other channels are struggling to replicate.

If the retail market is to remain lucrative then Landlords must understand the strategies needed to achieve successful multi-channel retailing. Armed with this knowledge the property sector can support its clients and help to ensure the store remains the very heart of what they do.

Brent Forbes, Director

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