Digital high streets: the future of retail?

Cheltenham High Street’s McDonald’s branch is currently undergoing a refurbishment, but will reopen with more than just a lick of paint.

Set to open its doors again on 23rd October, the fast-food branch will feature brand new digital elements with the aim of making the experience of ordering food much easier.

Digital High street

Free standing self-service kiosks are a major part of this new scheme, offering customers the chance to order their food at their own pace, giving them time to look into any nutritional information and the opportunity to customise their order easily.

There is also said to be a ‘click and collect’ app available to customers, as well as phone charging points, fixed tabletop tablets for children and free WiFi. A statement on the McDonald’s website explains the idea behind the advances, aiming to put “convenience and technology at the heart of the changes.”

But McDonald’s isn’t the only high street business to have embraced digital change in the past few years. Wetherspoons also launched a similar ‘click and collect’ style app in 2017, allowing customers to order food and drink to the table without leaving their seats, much to their loyal customers’ delight. 

Phone provider Vodafone has also taken a step in the digital direction by going cashless in July of this year, a move that has been discussed widely on their online community forum. One user expressed his understanding of the new scheme, posting “most people these days don’t carry cash at all so it definitely makes sense.”

The outlook for the British high street has seemed bleak this past year, with numerous retailers including M&S, House of Fraser and Waitrose announcing store closures, and plenty of others going into administration.

But figures from GlobalData show that town centre spending in the UK is set to increase by 4.9% in the next five years as the high street adapts more to the modern-day consumer. Concept stores, socialising spots and automated shopping are all set to replace more the traditional shops, openings that will eventually lead to a rise in spending. 


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