Digital High Street 2020 Report
The Digital High Street 2020 Report contextualises the future of the high street in the digital era and makes recommendations that are critical to the revitalisation of high streets in the impending digitally dominated world.
The Digital High Street 2020 Report contextualises the future of the high street in the digital era. The report recommends that there are four overarching points critical to the revitalisation of high streets in the impending digitally dominated world:
- Sufficient access through infrastructure:
There is a need to raise infrastructure and connectivity standards which includes universal fixed connectivity and providing 75% of UK’s residences and business with access to a broadband speed of at least 100 Mbps. Additionally, high speed mobile data coverage including 4G should be available from multiple operators and accessible to 98% of the population. There should also be easy access to public WiFi.
- Basic digital skills:
There is a need to eliminate the gap in digital skills across communities which will contribute to decreasing the digital divide.
- High street digital lab:
The aggregation of available technologies, digital applications, tools, methods and training programmes should be centralised, providing a platform for services in local communities.
- High street digital health index:
The High Street Digital Health index is a resource to assess competitiveness of high streets and to understand the key measures of economic value creation from digital developments. Adopting it can inspire local governments and private businesses to contribute to improving high streets and deliver change.
The report also identifies seven crucial factors that define the qualitative goal and aspiration for high streets in order to address perceived challenges and increase vibrancy:
- Economically strong:
Building an economically strong local community through employment is important for the high street to successfully operate as people and businesses within the catchment area will spend money at their local high street. Despite the digital transition, this remains the pillar of a robust high street.
Providing easy access to goods and services locally will increase the convenience of the high street. This can be through opening hours, availability of products and services, the location of the high street itself or through parking and other transport options. However, digitalisation has redefined convenience and therefore, high streets must compete by for example extending hours or by providing click and collect services.
High streets must engage the local community. This can be through services, activities, entertainment, events etc. By taking advantage of digital tools, community engagement can be enhanced through social media platforms and other online services.
The high street must remain relevant and provide an offer that resonates with the catchment. Citizens need a reason to venture to the town centre and by using digital data, consumer preferences can be analysed more efficiently so their needs and aspirations can be met by their local high street.
Today’s high streets are likely to be more successful if proven resilient and adaptive during difficult and changing circumstances such as shifting consumer behaviours. There will be a need for high streets to change or extend their functionality through innovative offers, new types of street markets, mobile trading and community activities.
- Authentic and diverse:
The identity of a community is defined by both historical, social and geographical factors. Authenticity and diversity of the high street offer need to reflect the identity and uniqueness of the local community. Through digital transition, identity and uniqueness can be enhanced with new channels to encourage citizens to experience various activities and services on their high streets.
Addressing contemporary challenges with an experimental design is crucial. Through the use of digital tools, physical and digital interactions become more integrated in the experiences that drive footfall to the high street, for example, finding information, transport and parking nearby.