Toy stores need to go digital to ensure future success

Clare Rayner, founder of the Future High Street Summit, believes retailers need to start catering to a digital savvy audience, whether through stocking innovative products or boosting the in-store experience with tech.
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Toy stores need to embrace the digital world to ensure success in the future, retail expert Clare Rayner has told ToyNews.

Rayner is the founder of the Future High Street Summit, and last month’s event centred on programmes set to push towns and city centres into the digital age.

Despite the traditional focus of many independent toy stores up and down the country, Rayner believes that toy shops need to start taking notice of its “digital savvy” customer base.

Examples given include embracing the latest tech toys or incorporating technology in-store as part of the shopping experience.

“Toy stores need to embrace digital as their target audience, children (and their parents), are increasingly digital savvy,” Rayner told ToyNews.

“Most parents of young children today are ‘digital natives’, having been only children themselves when the internet came into existence and all children are exposed to a wide range of technology, and the internet, from a very early age in school.

“With this in mind, toy stores need to ensure that they offer a quality digital experience to supplement the store itself, such as tablet based in-store browsing for more detailed product information or having greater bias towards technology toys in their product range.”

This championing of digital extends into self-promotion, with Rayner preaching the power of embracing social media and having an online presence.

“They need to be findable in the virtual world, engaging with customers through appropriate social media and via their own website,” added Rayner.

“Of course, each store will have their own specific aims and engagement style, which will influence how they decide to go digital, but whatever the right approach is for your store, there’s no doubt that it will be essential to your future business success.”

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, added: “More than £150 billion of retail sales are influenced by digital but only half of small businesses have a website, and just 33 per cent of SMEs are currently online.

“It’s suggested that digital technology could unlock £18.8 billion of revenue for SMEs as well as reducing their costs by up to 20 per cent, so it’s clear that there is a real opportunity for all players in our High Streets to tap into this potential and secure their place in the future.”

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