Physical shops: Places in our hearts & minds
COVID was supposed to be the death knoll for physical shops. It was of course immensely damaging and resulted in many shops closing and businesses folding. Customers naturally migrated to digital channels, some permanently and others temporarily.
Despite the whole channel being closed, the physical shop, in its best incarnations has already continued to bounce back. Despite everything, it is still the major channel for many customers, across most sectors, in the majority of markets, across the world.
However, what has survived the seemingly impossible, will not be the same as before. It never will, and why should it be?
‘Zero tolerance’ to minimum standards
Before you look for magic to turn around the fortunes of your shops, it’s worth looking at some more mundane actions to transform the underperforming store.
Firstly, don’t expect customers to love your shops if you don’t love them yourselves. Are your shops dirty and untidy, with broken lightbulbs? You wouldn’t leave your houses like that if guests were coming round. Especially guests who were potentially going to give you money. So, as a priority keep your shops clean and tidy. It’s not the greatest ambition on the road to being an essential retailer, but it’s an alarmingly common evolution for many retailer businesses.
Prioritise a minimum standards, ‘zero tolerance’ approach to your shop estate and for every shop that you have.
Prioritise your customer
Care for your customer, care for your products. So never run out of stock. Keep your shelves full, and make sure all your best sellers are on display, and not in the stockroom.
Ensure that your shop is appropriate and relevant for your customer demographic. Fill your shop with products they want, and not with those that other people like. And just as much as I am an advocate of visual merchandising, only put in the level that is required for your customer.
If they love beauty and have the time to admire it, then make your shop beautiful. If they don’t, then don’t waste money and effort on something which at the best will be invisible, and at worst irritating. If they don’t want beauty, give them efficiency, order and clarity, with the cleanliness thrown in for nothing.
The customer ‘Retail Hub.’
A physical shop was originally designed to sell, and nothing else. Its space was viewed in terms of capacity. The space segmentation decisions were limited to how much space was required for the stockroom, and how little space we could give to our shop teams, to sit, to eat and to function as sales assistants. Those times are finished.
Today’s shop must be a combination of a traditional physical shop, a dark-shop storage area for collections, an eBike parking place for deliveries, a space for colleagues to relax and stretch, a space to demonstrate product for zoom customers, desk space for local managers and regional managers, and offices for local meetings and community.
Your ‘physical shop strategy’ project…
If you want to start the ‘physical shop strategy’ ball rolling, please get in touch. I would be happy to share with you some typical project templates, schedules, costs, and case studies.
Please get in touch to discuss further your particular needs.
In the meantime…
If you’d like to read my book first to understand where I’m coming from, then that’s an excellent idea.
It is hot off the press for 2022.
Available for sustainable POD (print on demand) through Amazon or any of the usual book retailers.
In the book you will find 75 action plans and 100 retail best practice insights. They may guide you in assessing your current weaknesses and opportunities.
I hope also that the sections on how to flourish in the ‘The life and times of the Essential Retailer’ how to evolve ‘Agile Organisations’ and excel in ‘Astute Strategies’ may also be a source of inspiration and guidance.
Please enjoy some extracts…