Technology is brilliant. It allows us to hold all sorts of powers at our fingertips and conduct everything from our finances to our personal relationships without ever having to leave the house. Smart heaters can make our homes all warm and cosy for when we get in from work and there are even robots that can do all our cleaning. But all this convenience comes at a cost. We’re not spending enough time with the people we love, obesity is at record levels, books are read on screens instead of in libraries and the high street is full of boarded up windows and bargain stores. In this world of instant gratification, it’s easy to forget that real people behind family businesses built on love and hard work have been suffering at the hands of faceless internet based competitors and big corporations.
It’s not just independent retailers who have been affected by the rise of online shopping: consumers have too. Even the savviest online buyers can get fooled into buying something that looks like a bargain, only to find the quality is sadly lacking, the size is completely wrong or it doesn’t turn up at all. And there’s a darker side. Cyber Crime and identity theft are now the most commonly reported crimes in the UK, costing the economy billions of pounds every year. Anyone can pick up a DIY hacking kit for less than £50, so if you’re buying from an unsecured website you could quickly find yourself getting burnt.
Online reviews aren’t what they used to be either. It’s now easy for anyone to upload fake testimonials to their websites, so it’s impossible to tell whether you’re buying from a respected seller or a charlatan unless you’ve got at least a little bit of background knowledge. Word of mouth is still the best type of recommendation, so Facebook forums and independent review sites are more likely to be right than just taking someone’s word for it on their own sites.
If recent trends are anything to go by, lots of us are finding the whole “sci fi becoming reality” thing a little bit scary too. We’re starting to rebel against shiny gadgets that do everything for us in favour of more familiar, simpler things. Take mobile phones for example. Smartphones give us an incredible ability to bank, communicate, shop and work from anywhere in the world at any time of day. But because they’re working so hard they’re notorious for running out of juice quickly, defeating the whole object of owning a phone in the first place.
The retro Nokia 3310 has made a comeback this year because it does what it says on the tin– it’s a phone, that does what phones are supposed to do: make calls. There’s also a strong argument for the warm, cosy feeling that comes from retro gadgets. Like big bags of pic n mix and board games, they make us feel nostalgic and remind us of times when we were carefree and people actually used to talk to each other in real life, rather than doing everything through a screen.
Don’t get us wrong, this is not an attack on modern technology or an advert for going back to living like cave dwellers. It’s a simple recognition of the fact that as much as us humans appreciate it, it can never replace good, old fashioned human interaction. What’s important is to find harmony between the two, so we can use tech to complement our daily lives and help us be more happy and productive.
Down Your High Street was created to do exactly that. It recognises the huge benefits that online shopping has to offer at the same time as allowing our Great British High Street and the people behind it to flourish. It’s about giving independent, smaller retailers a platform through which to sell their unique and wonderful products to a wider audience, whilst keeping their bricks and mortar shops alive. And it’s about giving shoppers exactly what they want- convenience, choice and great service.
The site, launched just a couple of months ago, is the perfect marriage of modern and traditional. It was built by retailers, for retailers and is the result of two years extensive research and planning. There are some fantastic features available, like location based searches, alerts and special offers. Shoppers are able to search for the products they want and can either buy online or collect from the store itself. Retailers have their own online shop with their own personal branding, enabling them to open up their wares to a whole new customer base without losing the personal touch or having to close their stores. Products are easily uploaded and all online sales transactions are completely safe and secure for both parties. With thousands of customers and hundreds of retailers already loving it, this is a site that’s totally changing the landscape of online shopping and creating a level playing field for independent shops.
Technology and traditional values can work in harmony. Take a look at downyourhighstreet.com and find out how we can work together to let the Great British High Street thrive once again.