It’s no secret that success on the high street has been challenging since the rise of the digital world, but the fight isn’t over yet. There’s plenty of ways that the high street is prevailing over its digital counterpart.
One thing to understand before we dish out some handy reasons as to why the future of high street retail isn’t quite as dismal as it may seem is that it’s not just lack of popularity among shoppers that’s caused this struggle in the first place. The rise in business rates, shop rents, and tax also have a lot to answer for.
So, how can you be sure that you’re following the correct mind-set and rules to make your physical store flourish? Let’s explore.
Know Your Customers
You’re not going to be able to capitalize on your customer base unless you do your research and understand customer behavior. Take the phrase ‘the customer is always right’ one step further and put some time into studying data. The analysis of information can inform you of what products are selling and how you sell them. For instance, some stores have taken to also have an e-commerce store in a way that complements their physical ones. People come into the shop to explore the products first hand, but then they go away and make their purchase online.
The design of your store is everything. It can mean the difference between a shopper walking past without a second glance and coming in for hours. Utilize the opportunity that design gives you and make yourself stand out. There are so many possibilities when it comes to purchasing shop shelving and shop counters today that there’s no excuse for poorly designed stores.
It may sound bizarre, but the very thing that’s causing a threat to our physical stores may be what saves it. With so much choice at the tips of our fingers now, it’s led to some very varied and unusual shopping habits. What that has meant, however, is that more and more people are looking to shop both online and in-store. But, if your brand isn’t offering one of those parts, or the brand consistency just isn’t there, you may lose out. Get your physical store online and reap the benefits as more customers become aware of your brand.
Nowadays, people are consistently looking for products that will make them unique. So, don’t fall into the ‘safe’ trap of selling products that everyone else is selling. Add a unique twist onto them to stand out from the crowd. Your customers will thank you for it. Following trends can be very helpful in retail, but you must go one step further and develop the trend.
Build a Community
High street retail is much more than a place people go to get something they need; after all, they can do that online now. Many shoppers are now looking for an experience, some even a place to socialize. If you can develop your shop into a place for the local community, that community will deeply reward you. This could be in working closely with local suppliers and designers, or it could be in holding in-store events. There are many options.
A ‘trend’ that we’re seeing more frequently is the option of flexible payments. Most recently we have seen this with the rise of Klarna, who’ve begun working with big online brand names such as ASOS. Aside from payment plans, the flexibility also applies to how you make the purchase. With an increasing amount of people leaving cash and cards behind for Apple pay using their phones or Apple watches, retailers who don’t keep up with this can miss out.
Be Transparent with Your Morals
Customers are increasingly searching for shops that ethically source their products, are interested in sustainability and also go the extra mile to help the environment. Some are boycotting brands who are yet to act on making their business practices more ecological, so with that in mind, be sure to decide on where you’d like your shop to stand regarding these issues. Once you’ve made the decision, it’s wise to put a marketing plan in place to let people know, it could result in some extra customers coming your way!
Likewise, if you can add an authentic purpose to your brand, you’re likely to see an almost instantaneous rise in support from your customers. In today’s new generation of shoppers, a purpose has become as important as a presence in the digital world.
One of the key factors that physical stores can offer that their digital counterparts cannot is a real-life human experience. If you can transform a trip to your store from a quick shopping trip to a full experience, you’ll be sure to see a rise in customer retention. Utilize your staff, make the experience truly personalized to all that come into your store.
Something that’s rapidly making its way to public spaces is 5G. Although it might take a while for it to spread into the majority of public spaces, the opportunities that it brings with it are phenomenal. Spaces will be able to be more connected and immersive than ever before, giving shop owners the ability to go above and beyond at creating unique, memorable experiences.
It’s no secret that a lot of retail markets are over-saturated. What this means is that those who are happy to make the effort to go shopping in the physical world have begun favoring marketplaces where they can browse a wide range of products in one place, as opposed to making their way to individual shops for specific types of products. As a shop owner, if you can widen your product range and create a wholesome marketplace feel, you may be able to capitalize.
These are just a few of the trends and directions we’re likely to see from the high street retail industry moving forward, some sooner than others. It’s an interesting time for the high street as we move away from the assumption that the digital world is killing the high street and into the knowledge that digital can actually help the high street.