Digital disruption triggers the demise of high street businesses

Fed up with the archaic rental system, nearly 13 million Brits turn their back on high street estate agents in favour of online platforms

UK adults are turning en masse to online platforms, frustrated by the archaic and out-dated processes used by offline businesses, new research by LetBritain reveals.

An independent, nationally-representative survey of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by virtual letting agency LetBritain has revealed mass consumer discontent with businesses failing to embrace digital disruption, with more than half (51 per cent) regularly going online to buy the vast majority of products and services they use. What’s more, 45 per cent favour online services over ones that require them to go into a physical premise, and 29 per cent actively avoid those businesses that do not offer an online service. People in the capital are the most technologically demanding, with 62 per cent of Londoners opting for online solutions and half (51 per cent) consciously avoiding businesses that do not offer online services.

Across UK industries, the rise of digital solutions is enhancing the accessibility, transparency and quality of services available to consumers. In response, the majority of UK society (57 per cent) believes that businesses without an online presence or that require a significant amount of offline communication will be replaced by online-only or app-based alternatives within the next ten years – equating to nearly 30 million UK adults. This number rises to three in four in the capital.

Property Letting goes online

In light of this, LetBritain’s research found consumer dissatisfaction was particularly prevalent in the letting market, with both renters and landlords voicing their strong discontent at the lack of quick, accessible and easy online services available to those seeking to rent a property. With the annual rate of rental growth recently doubling in the UK, 31 per cent of adults think that using high-street letting agents to rent out a property is outdated and overly-burdened by reams of paperwork.

In response to these widespread frustrations, one in four (25 per cent) UK adults prefer to use online-only services such as Gumtree or Spareroom.com to source and secure a property, with 32 per cent not having the time to use services or undertake transactions that require them to visit physical premises. This trend was particularly pertinent for Londoners – half of people (50 per cent) in the capital rely on online services only when looking for a room or property to rent, with 55% not having the time to physically visit a property or office to undertake or complete a transaction.

Fareed Nabir, CEO of LetBritain, comments, ‘Over the past decade, online solutions have drastically transformed the way we conduct business. Today’s research clearly shows that consumers not only expect but now demand that companies provide their services online. And on that point, the rental market is clearly falling short, with too many high-street real estate agents failing to embrace digital solutions, relying on cumbersome offline processes. For businesses in the rental market, the choice is simple – integrate and embrace online solutions or run the risk of being outpaced by changing consumer demand.’

Further reading on digital disruption

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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1 Comment

  1. What rubbish. Much more to do with the fact that high street businesses have to deal with the HIGHEST business rates in the world (which have just been hiked again) whereas their digital competitors benefit from offshore tax rates. How an article about the high street can avoid mentioning this is beyond me.

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