I think everyone agrees the Internet has had a huge impact on high street retailers. But everyone seems to say it in a negative tone. ie. "Internet decimates the high street" or "Internet sales reach £Xbn in 2006". Nobody seems to talk about the areas where the Internet is actually helping the high street.
I mean we've all seen the photo printers where you take your USB stick / CDRom and have your photo's printed out - but whats new with that? Surely, they could like them to flickr accounts and stop the need to take in the CD in the first place - or allow friends and relatives to print out professionally remotely?
Recently I saw some interesting technology which promises to make it into the UK high street over the next couple of years (its already available in some larger stores in the US) - where an Internet enabled kiosk (such as See Point) with full video chat capabilities can be located in the high street store and enable a "techy" to talk to the user in real-time about the product or service in question. These devices also have browser and printing capability, so the customer can see and print out the product information that the IT guru is showing them.
This could have huge implications for the retailers - they don't need to hire a technical guru in each store but can have one centralised department with said guru's all sat next to each other. Furthermore, for smaller stores it allows them to retail products and services that they wouldn't normally be able to sell.
The technology is there today - however, will this type of capability go down well with the UK consumer though? Me I'm not sure I would like to stand there talking to a video screen in the middle of a store. But then again - I hate shopping anyway ;-)