High street retail has had a tough time in recent years, what with the burgeoning growth in internet ‘shopping’ and the use of the smartphones and other digital devices such as Alexa and Google Home Hub. People have quickly accepted emerging technology that enhances their living and leisure pursuits. ‘In-home leisure’ being an increasingly popular way to utilise ‘smart products’ that enable people to use their time to the fullest. The ‘smart-home’ is becoming the ‘home’ of the future and Oakhurst are at the forefront of adapting to these changes by offering blind solutions that interact with the home of the future.
The recently released John Lewis Retail Report 2018 reviews how we shopped, lived and looked in 2018 and it looks towards trends growing for the year ahead and beyond. It highlights the way that we are rapidly discarding ‘old tech’ such as desktop PCs and DVD players in favour of interactive, app-based technology that allows us to monitor everything from our fitness and diet, to enabling shopping on the move via a smartphone. We now like to browse and shop when it is most convenient, whether that is on the move commuting or travelling or at home. Shoppers, however, still like to make bigger, more considered purchases via a desktop or tablet and that is because the larger screens allow for more research and detail to take place. Product and material sustainability and a desire for shoppers to express their individuality with eye catching interiors, also features as a growing trend.
As an independent company, Oakhurst are not tied to specific, narrow ranges of fabric that other large companies are tied to. We search the market for the best, up-to-date fabric ranges and products that are available. Ones that are right for the job of protecting your conservatory and furniture from the harsh conditions of direct sunlight found within a conservatory, orangery, lantern or glass extension. Our fabrics also are specifically selected to insulate your room during the colder winter months and therefore provide an environmental impact, by not wasting valuable heating fuel and insulating your room, instead.
Oakhurst are leaders in responding to consumer demand for integrating blinds with smart-home applications and we can now offer with Tahoma, which is a voice-activated, electrically operated blinds system via Alexa. Alternatively, you can operate your blinds remotely from anywhere in the world via an app installed on your smartphone or wrist watch. This allows enhanced security and also comfort for the returning home owner. With Tahoma, all operations are via the app and this removes the need for numerous remote-control consoles, that often go missing around the house.
The ‘Smart-home’ is becoming an ever-larger part of everyday life and new technology is still forthcoming. The John Lewis Retail Report 2018 predicts among other things, Smart contact lenses, whereby the smartphone will be abandoned and technology will become part of us, where ‘Transhumanism’ will see us wearing smart contact lenses that provide information about what is around us from shop displays like what the blinds will look like in your house, to the weather forecast or shopping list. You would in effect be able to try before you buy. Voice searching will be normal and already John Lewis are seeing a growth in people searching for products by voice rather than typing a search. Smart technology will integrate with everything from your blinds, fridge, oven, tv, lawnmower, car etc, etc. The list is endless and what we currently see as unusual, will now become everyday.
Does all this technology reflect the death of the high street? The high street will adapt to the technology and shops will be seen as places for entertainment and socialising. People will increasingly browse and experience products before buying on-line and using home delivery. The new high street ‘experience’ will mean that people will meet and relax there as part of their leisure time. The Centre for Retail Research predicts the high street will become ‘more leisure focused, with more space allocated to restaurants, coffee shops, artisanal food, health and beauty dance and fitness. It also predicts the high street will increasingly be a place where people go to fetch their goods from click and collect lockers, and continue as a place to access services’. Indeed, Which? predicts that ‘as shoppers turn more towards, shopping online, we’re likely to see more of these interactive stores where customers have the chance to try before they buy’.
Oakhurst are proud to have over 25 years relationship with John Lewis and you can experience our products at the stores and then have us present our products to you in the comfort of your own home, at your leisure. Customer service is at our core and you will see for yourself why we are different from other companies who only promote their products via the internet.
We believe that the British high street will weather the current storm and that it will rapidly adapt and go on to lead the way in worldwide retail trends in ways that others will follow.