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Customer experience of UK town centres research gets ESRC funding
8 August 2012
A research team of retail and marketing experts at the School of Business and Economics has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a 12-month customer experience research project.
Says Cathy Hart: “Town centres are attracting high-profile attention with the Government backing measures to halt the economic decline of town centres, including the Portas Pilot scheme and the High Street Innovation Fund.
“The town centre landscape is changing, and the way that shoppers use town centres has fundamentally changed. The Internet offers greater choice, comparison and convenience, and as a result, consumers will expect more of their high street. Understanding the customer experience in town centres will help towns to improve and strengthen that experience in order to adapt and develop to meet future customer needs.”
The study, co-funded and supported by a group of project partners including , Argos, the Association of Convenience Stores, Action for Market Towns, Boots UK and the British Retail Consortium, together with other town centre stakeholders, will focus on:
- in-depth research into how consumers use a town centre, by tracking customers’ town centre journeys and the technology used to support these;
- identifying physical or virtual ‘touch points’ for different types of town centres, across retail sectors and services;
- the nature and quality of these interactions; and
- the role of the internet and mobile technology in supporting or replacing aspects of the physical shopping experience.
The findings from the study are expected to contribute to a robust framework for creating and adding value to the town centre experience from the customer’s viewpoint.
“Customers’ town centre experiences may cut across retail sectors and services, offline and online,” explains Cathy Hart. “Accordingly, this information will help future town teams to integrate and manage their retail offer within the town centre environment.”