Sometimes having your cake and eating it seems to be one of the few things that the retail customer can actually succeed in doing as they stroll the lengths and breadths of Britain’s struggling high streets. There are truly some inspiring and inventive concepts in the world of coffee shops and eateries or at the very least convenience and comfort.
However culinary creativity is not enough to satisfy the customer appetite for quality, professional retail stores yet avoiding the predictable parades of “the same old shops!” A conundrum indeed for those trusted with providing a retail diet of substance, a healthy balance of boots, books and bedlinen to complement the bakeries and bun-shops of Britain.
The answer is literally staring us in the face, at least for now, though sadly in dwindling numbers in many instances. What adds true flavour to any retail location is the addition of local ingredients, retailers who have grown with a community, have both taken from and yet given back to the people who have passed through their doors. They have been moulded by the people they serve into an offer personalised to their needs – if only they knew it!
The independent retailer has of course suffered terribly at the hands of the multiples with their professionalism and efficiencies of scale but now is maybe the time to turn the tide of taste.
Being independent doesn’t mean being inefficient, ineffective and ultimately insolvent. But the evolution must be made from being just another local store dependent on the traffic scraps from the high tables of recognised retail brands, to becoming destinations in their own right offering a proposition both compelling and commercial.
So what do we need to do to transform the idiosyncratic independent into the local destination store of our dreams? In simple terms an injection of appropriate retail best practice. In smaller and safer doses the knowledge and the know-how, the processes and the principles, which helped the multiples become the commercial success story of twentieth century retail.
Any retailer needs to review its assortment structure plan, to refocus on its best-selling business whilst evolving into the lucrative loop-holes identified through competitor benchmarking. Any retailer needs to study its price architecture, its entry and most common and competitive prices, to monitor its sales performance, to promote and reduce to generate cash at the best margin. Any retailer needs to consider its store experience from an enticing interior design and attractive displays to engaging customer service with product interaction. Any retailer needs to minimise the lost sales through replenishment of sizes, colours and flavours, sanitising the stockroom in an effort to energise a shop floor with commercial capacity. Any retailer needs to concentrate of selling to customers what they want to buy and not what they don’t!
Centre to this transformation is the building of the local brand, the delivery of a consistent proposition for the customer of today. Alongside the essential efficiencies and commercial criteria independent retail needs to appeal to the emotional as well as the commercial, but not through the rose-tinted nostalgia of a bygone age but with the digital spectrum of today’s omni-channel eye-candy. A vibrant calendar of events linking product with the lives of people, databases bustling with email activity and enticements, loyalty schemes, store events and involvement in the core customer community.
Independent retail will never win through the emotions of pity but through the admiration at a powerful professional player in the high street of the people. Why can’t independent retailers propel themselves into the role of local destination?
Of course there are many external factors that need to be leveraged to facilitate this important evolution, and not least the transformation of the muddled-mind-set that all competition is bad. Independents together begin to define a destination for local customers, and with focus and energy a street full of Local Destination stores can become a magnet for the masses, competing healthily and benefitting together from a resurgence of traffic and patronage.
The task is difficult but the opportunity is there.
Pull at the purse-strings not at the heart strings?
What is the correct commercial proposition for you as a retail and social destination?
What combination of retail stores, sizes, categories, price-points and tastes do you need?
What level of professional retail skills do your retailers have?
What support do you provide to evolve traditional independents into local destination retailers?
Let VM-unleashed help you realise your new horizons… ”Shopportunities!” is a retail location strategic process that not only benchmarks destinations from a quantitative perspective such as the number and type of shops but also from a qualitative viewpoint defining the taste, lifestyle positions and emotional propositions of both individual retailers and for a destination as a whole.
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”One Shop at a Time!”” is a practical support service for individual and groups of retailers to develop them as best practice, commercially successful retailers through the introduction of correct processes and principles across essential functions, with ongoing support and training to maintain the highest commercial standards.
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