Heard the phrase? It’s used to describe technologies that could have a major impact on certain business sectors.

If you step onto any high street in Britain, you’ll probably see the effects of a disruptive technology right now: e-commerce.

I’m talking about the impact of online shopping on high street retail.

Now don’t get me wrong. E-commerce is an amazing development that’s brought many benefits to consumers and businesses. I shop online. Chances are, you do too.

But the impact on the high street is tangible. Empty shops and closing-down sales  are a common story.

Coupled with busier lifestyles, technology  is changing the way we shop.

The Economist Intelligence Unit is just one of many to predict the continued growth of online shopping.

In the 2012 report Retail 2022, it predicted that one in three purchases will be made using the internet – and that the use of mobile apps and tools to find goods and compare prices will reach unprecedented levels.

It’s going to be an ultra-competitive world.

So that’s the future. But do we have to wait for it?

No. We can try and make the transition less painful.

We can take the initiative and start to evolve our high streets now – ensuring they have a clear function in our communities in the future

In Wrexham, we’re about to embark on some pretty exciting projects that will help us do that.

We’ve been awarded £10 million over three years to help regenerate Wrexham town centre, and the neighbouring communities of Hightown and Caia Park.

The money will come from the Welsh Government regeneration scheme Vibrant and Viable Places, and will be used to help create jobs, get people back into work, increase affordable housing and improve community facilities.

The estimated value of the project is around £27 million, with match-funding from other sectors.

For a town the size of Wrexham, that’s really big money. And it could make a huge difference.

Welsh Government Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Carl Sargeant, says regenerating town centres “…is about a lot more than filling empty shops.”

He’s right. It’s about re-imagining the role of town centres, and how they can evolve as places of business, housing, education and leisure.

More specifically, it’s about changing the balance between housing and retail, so we can grow the residential population within our centres. This in-turn will generate need and demand for services, which in-turn will help sustain businesses.

So that’s what we’re going to do.

We’re also pulling on the expertise of academics to get a better understanding of the future of our high streets.

We’ve teamed up with Manchester Metropolitan University as part of its High Street UK 2020 project.

Over six years the university will study Wrexham – along with nine other towns and cities in the UK – to develop new models that town centres might evolve towards as e-commerce and out-of-town shopping continue to have an impact.

The project is being led by Professor Cathy Parker, who will work closely with Wrexham Council’s economic development team.

To sum things up, technology will continue to evolve. Which in turn, will continue to change consumer habits and the way we shop. Which in turn, will continue to impact on traditional high street shopping.

But rather than resign our town centres to their fate, we are looking to re-imagine their role in our communities.

Look out for my next post, when I’ll be looking at some other big, strategic regeneration projects in Wrexham.