This month sees the launch of Lightspeed eCom in the UK, following the acquisition by the powerful point-of-sale business of Amsterdam-based eCommerce software company SEOshop. The company now serves 34,000 businesses in more than 100 countries, processing £7.8 billion in annual transactions. Lightspeed’s Chief Revenue Officer Jean-Paul Chauvet reveals why the UK is an important market and the UK’s independent retailers face a positive 2016.

The UK’s high street has been under the spotlight in the last two years. Struggling for a decade against big brand competition and cuts to investment in local facilities, many UK towns and cities found their high streets were turning into ghost towns. Popular campaigns like Small Business Saturday (5 December this year), Save our High Street, Support our High Street and Mary Portas’ Queen of the High Street have helped raise awareness to the public about the unique shopping experience that the high street can provide. It was a fight by the underdog against big business.

The fight continues.

But many independent retailers are shrugging off their underdog status as they tap into technology to beat the big brands at their own game. More and more small, independent shops are making use of electronic Point of Sale to improve their understanding of customer behaviour and thereby inform their decision-making and improve their profits. And the British shops have an advantage online because of the predominance of the English-language. Even quite small retail establishments are able to reach out to wider audiences online. We find that 35% of our clients sell to more than one country. It’s an open door that many of the big retailers take time to achieve because of red tape issues.

This rise of the independents is just one of the reasons that we have launched Lightspeed eCom, our new eCommerce platform in the UK this month. For retailers to compete in an increasingly competitive, global retail environment, they need a localised, multi-lingual, multi-currency eCommerce platform. They need to focus on building their business with the same insight that is afforded their giant rivals, making use of predictive analytics, full design customisation and the ability to manage complex inventory. If you know what sells and when, you can make better decisions about re-stocking which helps with cash flow. In the coming months, Lightspeed will integrate Lightspeed eCom with our Lightspeed Retail cloud-based POS solution, bringing multi-channel retailers an even more robust set of tools to run their entire business from one place.

We’ve designed the platform with independent retailers in mind:

  • Ease of Use: merchants can build and launch their online store quickly and easily. With over 100 professionally designed and fully customisable templates, retailers can create a site that reflects their brand in under an hour.
  • Advanced Inventory Management: independent retailers have the ability to bulk import and export items; set up product variations, bundles and promotions; and feature products by brand or collection.
  • Global Sales Capabilities: retailers can sell in 14 languages and all currencies; manage inventory, product set-up and currencies across languages with a few clicks. Lightspeed eCom also offers integration with leading international payments providers and automatically calculates international tax.
  • Marketing Suite: marketing tools, SEO optimisation, social sharing and a blogging platform are built in.

The time couldn’t be better. With the Christmas season upon us, there’s no reason that the high street can’t take a large slice of the shopping spend. There’s no reason the independent retailers should be left behind. Our own independent retail clients saw a 169% increase in sales in the US and Canada. We’re excited to see the impact we can have for the UK’s retailers this year.

We’re confident of the impact that technology can make to UK’s High Street. Not technology for technology’s sake. But technology written with independent retailers in mind. To show that we’re prepared to put our money where our mouth is, we’re offering 50 UK retailers use of the platform for 12 months free of charge. Get in touch if you’d like to register.

Our new London office is going to be the centre of our activity in Europe. It’s in the heart of London’s west end but it’s not the big brand names on Oxford Street or Regents Street that we’re here for. We see that 2016 is going to be the year that the UK High Street retailers make their mark. And we feel we’re in the right place, at the right time, to help them do it.

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