Retailers who can ‘make the shopping experience count’ by employing educated staff that care about the brand and interact with customers are the ones who will survive the next 10 years, according to new research.

The new Retail White Paper study, involving Kantar Retail and the Retail Trust, found that retailers needed to embrace the phenomenon of  ‘showrooming’, in which shoppers evaluate a product in store before ordering the item online from another retailer. By providing a more interactive experience for customers, retailers can counteract this threat.

“Shoppers like to touch or feel a product and enjoy the theatre of retail. Retailers need to play to this strength, offering greater interactivity, theatre, product trialling and sampling – allowing customers to interact with the product in a way online retailers cannot,” the report stated.

High street retailers who offer incentives and loyalty programmes across a range of channels will ensure customer loyalty. “Future loyalty programmes need to be far more targeted and tailored to the individual needs of that customer,” it said. Mobile retailing is playing an important part in allowing retailers to customise offers, but shoppers think retailers are behind the times with mobile technologies, the report found.

It warned that shoppers are not sentimental and will not boycott certain online retailers due to concerns over their tax avoidance, as long as they continue to offer good prices and service.

Meanwhile, the report authors called on local authorities to create a long-term solution to parking, which is a major cause of high street problems: “With 80% of retailers and 60% of shoppers earmarking parking charges as a key factor behind the decline of the high street, surely the time has now come for free, cheap, subsidised or flexible parking regimes that act as a reward for supporting local businesses rather than a punitive disincentive?”.

The report was written by Squire Sanders, Kantar Retail and the Retail Trust.