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Ecommerce not benefiting from 'death of the high-street'?

The conventional portrayal of the relationship between ecommerce and high street shopping is that they are engaged in a gladiator-type fight to the death, with each one struggling to gain the upper hand in a battle of sales, consumer engagement and browsing experience.

However, the malaise that is undeniably afflicting bricks-and-mortar sales, with former stalwarts like Blockbuster, HMV and Jessops all but around these days, does not appear to have given online sales the boost one might expect.

According to Graham Cooke, CEO of consumer analytics and personalisation company QuBit, ecommerce is still struggling with a number of fundamental weaknesses that are likely to get worse in the coming years.

While many firms are still trying their best to get into the market, with ecommerce managers highly in demand across the retail sector, there are some concerns about how the model is adapting to the current situation.

Writing in Wired, Mr Cooke said conversion rates and profit margins are already too low and likely to continue moving in the wrong direction unless changes are made.

"The only real exception to these indicators is in large-scale online discount retailing - in effect Amazon - where commodity product is shifted based on low prices made possible by huge volumes," he argued.

Furthermore, the QuBit chief pointed out that many accounts have glossed over the fact that retailers like HMV and Comet did in fact have online arms, but simply managed these badly and did not take advantage of the possibilities of ecommerce.

"If online retailers want to beat the discounters they need to give customers an experience for which they'll pay a premium. Really looking at what customers are doing on a website, and using that information to divine what they're looking for and why, will help them to build a truly personal experience," he concluded.

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