UK retailers on brink of 'third wave' revolution

Smart devices and interactive TV will boost UK retail sales by £2.4bn by 2014, says new report. Are smaller retailers best-placed to take advantage?

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Smart phones have driven much of the change over the past few years, giving customers more choice and forcing shops to be more competitive.

But research by eBay and retail research firm Conlumino predicts that this is the tip of the iceberg. Over the next three years, the UK will see more change in how people shop than anything we’ve seen in the last twenty. Of course, eBay has a good reason for wanting this to be true but it’s interesting nevertheless.

The so-called ‘third wave’ shopping revolution could lead to experiences such as Augmented Reality becoming a regular experience for shoppers. This allows shoppers to view 3D projections of products like clothes (John Lewis has recently installed a virtual fashion mirror in its Oxford Street branch). Other innovations include iPads replacing tills, and everyday devices becoming more ‘smart’ – for example, your fridge telling you what food you should order.

Interactive TV will have the most influence, eBay predicts. By the end of 2014, one in four people will be familiar with watching a TV show and buying the box set at the same time.

And the auction site reckons that customers making more use of television and online could give the UK's largest retailers additional sales of £235m. UK retailers as a whole will get a boost of more than £2bn.

Many smaller retailers have already realised the potential of the internet to boost sales. They’re often less dependent on bricks and mortar than the UK’s biggest retailers; in fact, many don’t even have a presence on the high street. With the research suggesting sales can be boosted by 4% with the right digital approach, will smaller retailers be more able to successfully take on the big giants in a few years’ time?

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