high street

High street slow to adapt

Sir, The reported 6% drop in footfall to the high street was followed by ‘Nearly a quarter of Brits take less than 15 minutes for lunch’. Customers have had less time for a long time, but it looks like they’ve almost run out - and the high street has been slow to adapt.

Tapping into how customers spend their time, maximise their minutes for speed, productivity and leisure means brands still have everything to play for. They need to think harder about a service that’s relevant. Expectations are rising for instant and personalised service, and for customers to be able to set their own pace to discover or dwell in-store.

If brands invest in the high street to meet new needs, people will invest their time, and spend, more frequently.

Michelle Du-Prat, strategy director and co-founder, Household

Novel packaging solution

Sir, Wrap, along with major UK industry players, has pledged to transform packaging solutions to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable, which comes as welcome news (Food & drink businesses sign up to Wrap’s UK Plastics Pact,’ thegrocer.co.uk, 26 April).

While certain types of plastic packaging are recyclable, too many are not. This includes ‘soft packages’ most commonly used for many single-use snack products. While we may enjoy a treat for a few minutes, its packaging can continue to contaminate our environment for centuries. For these types of packaging formats, organically compostable solutions offer an easy, novel solution.

Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO, TIPA

New in-store efficiencies

Sir, Leading retailers are searching for new technology solutions that can drive ­efficiencies, without shutting the door to future innovation.

In the past IT leaders had two main options: dedicated devices in store with their inherent inflexibility and ­support ­challenges, or public cloud offerings with latency and risk issues for systems such as PoS.

Advances in edge-based technology offers new possibilities for in-store infrastructure. This means placing new IT capabilities in store, but in a way that delivers the control and flexibility of cloud-based services. The result is a significant reduction in cost to serve, improved staff productivity and a superior ­customer experience.

Nick East, CEO, Zynstra

Merger challenge

Sir, While the news that Sainsbury’s and Asda plan to merge is sending shockwaves across the industry, a radical change in fmcg retail has been coming for some time.

The constant squeeze on margin across the supply chain means the eco-system retailers operate in simply has less profit available. And customers have changed the way they shop.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is how insight-driven we are now - we can check prices in seconds, access product reviews and share our views about brands and retailers in real time. These challenges are not going away. Understanding the new customer base created by this combination and learning how to engage with them (at speed) will be critical.

Paul Hinds, senior VP international retail solutions, IRI