Survey shows consumer frustration with offline high street stores

4th December 2014

More than a quarter of consumers (28%) think that local businesses which don’t have a website are outdated or can’t keep up with the times. That’s the key finding of research commissioned by Nominet, the internet company best known for running the .uk internet infrastructure, to mark Small Business Saturday.

Research launched today, which surveyed consumers in 15 major UK cities including London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Newcastle, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool and Bristol, found that consumers have increasing online expectations of small business on their high street. Over a third (35%) surveyed now expect a local business to have an online presence, with only 6% believing that local shops on their high street are very well-equipped for the internet era. Other key findings from the study included:

  • 21% of people expect to be able to email or contact a local high street business online
  • A quarter of consumers (25%) believe that a local high street store’s website says a lot about the company
  • 17% of people would consider visiting a competitor if a local store didn’t have a web presence

The research also revealed that 51% of consumers have visited a local high street shop within the past 12 months, only to find it closed upon arrival. With 60% of respondents stating that they expect a business to have a basic landing page with contact details and opening times, this is something businesses can easily address to encourage more customers to pop in. Consumers also said that they expect their local businesses to have a basic search facility (49%) and a store locator (45%).

When asked what online services would encourage respondents to visit their local high street stores more often, a Click and Collect service came out on top with 34%. Being able to make purchases online (34%) and browse or research products or services (34%) were also named as services that would entice people into shops, while a further 27% said they would like the ability to make an online reservation or booking.

Perceptions and expectations of a local businesses’ online presence change when asking the younger generation. Almost four in 10 (38%) 18-24 year olds surveyed think that a high street business is outdated and can’t keep up with the times if it doesn’t have a website while more than a quarter (26%) said it would make them consider visiting a competitor. When questioned about which service young people would most like local high street stores to offer online almost half selected the ability to purchase items online (45%).

Eleanor Bradley, Chief Operating Officer at Nominet, comments: “Small Business Saturday is a fantastic way to celebrate the benefits small businesses bring to the local community. But in Britain we’re a tech-savvy lot and it’s clear that local high street stores need to keep up with their customers’ expectations. It’s never been easier to get online – Nominet’s registry data shows that 150,000 .UK web domains are registered every month – and this research shows that local businesses can use the web not only to engage with customers online, but also drive people into stores. If they can get the balance right between online and offline there is no reason why small businesses on the high street shouldn’t thrive in the internet era.”

Research Methodology

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,021 UK adults aged 18+ from 14th to 19th November 2014.

For more information

Please contact Cathy Donald / Victoria Marnoch at Brands2Life on 020 7592 1200 or by email at [email protected]