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The End Of The High Street, Or The Beginning Of The Click And Collect Revolution?

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First Woolworths, now BHS – has the British public fallen out of love with the high street? Can tech save it?

It’s no secret that the British High Street isn’t what it used to be; in the past decade Woolworths, Jane Norman, Threshers, Peacocks and Clinton cards have all fallen into administration and been consigned to the dustbin of history.

HMV, Jessops and Comet have also met with the same fate and now BHS, once a national institution, has joined them, placing 11,000 jobs across 164 stores at risk.

So are Britons abandoning the High Street in their droves, or did some or all of these stores all fail to move with the times? In an age where millennial consumers don’t just expect, but demand digitally enhanced, omnichannel shopping experiences, wherever they happen to be doing their shopping, any high street store will pay a high price for choosing not to provide such services.

PocketHighStreet, the service that puts the digital high street at everybody’s fingertips, is partnering with a collection of regional newspapers, on demand couriers, business directories and social influencers and creating a campaign, starting this month, to revive the fortunes of the high street by providing click and collect orders available for 1 hour delivery, and making them discoverable across a wide range of digital publications.

The company are partnering with Quiqup, a London delivery startup that specialises in “last mile” drop offs to homes and offices, with a 500 strong fleet of couriers, who raised a multi-million Series A funding round led by Delivery hero and Global Founder’s capital last year, news agency Archant, and top London apps and influencers with a combined reach of millions of local consumers, to show how easy and hassle free the high street shopping experience can be.

No more queuing for goods because you have ordered ahead; don’t know whether to drive or walk in – do neither! Stay at home and have your goods delivered to you in under 1 hour. Digital disruption has never felt so good, or so convenient.

Shopping has changed forever. When I see something I want online it’s sourced via my local high streets and in my hands in minutes” says Alex Schlagman, CEO at PocketHighStreet.

“We thrive on supporting local London businesses by offering them delivery within the hour, helping them reach new customers and ultimately grow and succeed” adds Quiqup’s CEO, Bassel EL Koussa

“We are always looking at ways to support our local communities. Being part of this network allows us to natively monetise our content while connecting more widely to our local business communities” says Ella Kerr McCutcheon, Business Director at Archant, London24

PocketHighStreet was founded by Schlagman, a Startup Loan recipient, in 2013, and has been backed by Startup Funding Club, the SEIS / EIS Investment fund specialising in early stage, tech startups. The app allows users to search local shops which are then added to Google maps. The app initially focused on cyclists (so you know where your nearest bike repair shop is in case of breakdown) but has pivoted into a holistic service for any local retailer looking to reach new local customers at scale, and any customer looking for the best local stores and goods.

In 2015 the company helped 100s of local businesses get discovered by millions of Londoners digitally, and soft launched the “click and collect” service side of the business.

The campaign to revive the high street will roll out across the UK between now and Christmas and, based on signups to PocketHighStreet will involve over 400 local shops and more than 20 digital publications. Any local business wishing to sign up to the service can do so on the PocketHighStreet site.

Some people still love the thrill of an unplanned, old fashioned shopping expedition, but the majority, it seems, are voting with their feet. Now that there is an app and a cycle-friendly service helping to either turn a shopping trip into a nifty, streamlined digital jaunt, or a delivery / concierge service powered by tech but arranged from the comfort of one’s sofa, perhaps the nation will remember just why the high street was so popular in the first place.

It wasn’t the crowds, or the pushing and shoving. It was the goods, remember. Yes, even at Woolworths – will Pocket High Street’s campaign be bringing Pictionary back?

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