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Woolworths Warned High Street Chains to Adapt to Digital Four Years ago

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The warning for Blockbusters, HMV, Jessops, Comet, and whichever major high-street company will fall into administration next, was issued four years ago.

In early January 2009 the final Woolworths' store of 807 closed after the company started in 1879.

Woolworths was there as a very early example of failing to adapt to the demands of customers and should have served as a wake-up call to other high street chains.

Their failure to embrace the increasingly digital nature and the changing trends of shoppers ultimately led to their demise and the same has happened to the latest groups of shops who have been plunged into administration.

It's easy to place the blame on consumers, and laziness, for the high street's decline but bosses should have been looking to enhance the digital nature of their businesses long before these closures.

The likes of Amazon, Play and other online retailers who do not have to pay rent on stores in prime locations, or as many costs in overheads were always likely to be successful as mobile and tablet shopping has become more popular.

There's no coincidence high-street retailers Argos had a huge advertising push in the build up to Christmas with those annoying aliens showing the ease being able to shop on their handheld devices.

This followed their announcement that during the next five years they are going to close or relocate 75% of their stores. The digital approach has to be the correct way for these businesses to survive.

Although it appears this may not have helped their overall sales growth over the Christmas period it's possible they have hit upon the right strategy for short/medium sustainability.

While these chains of stores are not the only type of business needing to adapt their models alongside the development of technology, the media industry being another prominent example, a digital first approach does seem to be working.

Online sales in December rose by 17.8%.

This growth is all to do with the online customer service and convenience of shopping online, mobile or tablet. When given the option of getting a product delivered to the door at a time you pick there's not going to be a contest with taking time out to visit a shop.

Before the announcement that Blockbuster UK was going into administration 12,000 retail jobs would have disappeared in the last six weeks. With Blockbuster's numbers included there may now be 16,000 people unemployed.

It's difficult to understand where new roles could be created for all these people and the strain on the job market can only increase further.

But more jobs will be lost if traditional companies fail to change their business models at the rate consumers are changing their buying habits.

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