THE BLOG
09/09/2013 12:20 BST | Updated 06/11/2013 05:12 GMT

The Portas Review Is Missing a Fundamental Element

In 2011 Mary Portas set out to write a review that would aim to revive our high streets. There was great hope that, along with the government, they would find solutions to the troubled retail sector and British stores would be saved.

This week the government questioned Mary Portas on the progress of the review and how it's helped to revive the high street, so far. Consequently, the review hasn't been successful and MPs have claimed it was a "waste of time" and a "failure". In response, Mary Portas has stated the government is to blame due to their lack of input.

What's clear is a lot of blame has been bandied about, but what's not so clear is how the high street can be saved, and if there's still hope for it.

So, why wasn't the review successful, and what can be done to save the high street?

In my opinion, the high street will always have a place in our town centres, bricks and mortar stores are always going to have a presence, but their role has changed.

Some experts have claimed online shopping is the reason for the high street's failure. However, online shopping shouldn't be viewed as an enemy to the high street; it should be seen as having a different purpose.

In recent years we've experienced a huge shift in shopping behaviour and, because of this, high street stores need to evolve. Online shopping has become a quick and convenient way for premeditated purchases, whereas the high street has taken up the role for browsing and leisurely days out.

What retailers are failing to realise is that bricks and mortar stores need to offer something different from online stores, something more special. It doesn't need to be extravagant, or expensive, but stores should provide customers with an experience where there's a reason for them to visit the high street.

One thing Mary Portas, and the government, have been right about is the fact that stores are declining from the high street. But take a look at the retailers who've fallen into administration, this year alone - Comet, HMV, Jessops - did these stores offer a unique customer experience, whereby visiting the store meant more than shopping online? I'll let you be the decider of that.

There are many great retail technologies out there that can enhance the customer experience but on a far more basic level, retailers need to make sure they are offering a personalised, and unique shopping experience that makes visiting the high street worthwhile.

The crucial fact is if retailers fail to evolve, and don't offer shoppers the right customer experience, they will fail.