Is the high street a contender to Amazon this Christmas?

Jes Breslaw, director of marketing and strategy at Delphix examines the importance of innovation in enabling the high street to compete this Christmas.  

So, is the high street a genuine contender to Amazon this Christmas?

Christmas must be a wonderful time to be an Amazon shareholder. As the retail giant sought to maintain its crown as the pioneer of Black Friday, signs of the company’s undisputed festive reign have been everywhere. According to the company, Black Friday purchases surpassed all expectations with its website clocking-up sales of 64 items per second and propelling the company to achieve its busiest sales day ever.

Many high-street retailers compete in the Black Friday retail frenzy using aggressive discounting and price matching, resulting in British shoppers flooding the web to look for the best bargains and get a head start on their Christmas shopping. However, even with the revelation that Amazon looks set to pay 25% on all UK tax profits in this week’s Autumn statement, retailers will need to compete on more than just price to successfully take on the multinational commerce powerhouses.

Fortunately, many consumers don’t buy just based on price, and in the split second nature of online commerce, the shopping experience is just as powerful. A single feature can win a customer – whether it’s recommending a product, saving your measurements or a reminder about what you bought Grandma last year – so the pressure is on to innovate.

But innovation isn’t just for Christmas. The reality is that retailers need to woo their customers all year round. This means IT departments must adopt a strategy of continuous delivery to maintain the interest and loyalty of their customers, something which isn’t always easy.

To continually innovate without sacrificing quality and introducing bugs within the e-commerce platform, companies require a supporting IT infrastructure. If not already, retailers need to move towards a culture that allows for the rapid stand-up and tear down of virtual development and test environments. This will unleash creativity and help turn great ideas into features at lightning speeds.

By embracing an agile approach to IT, retailers can focus on developing an online experience that capitalises on consumers’ fondness for the convenience of online shopping. High street retailers can take-on Amazon by price, but continuous innovation is much more likely to maximise the potential that Christmas holds and protect their share of the consumer’s wallet throughout the year.

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