2018 was another year of casualties for the British High Street, not just independent retailers, but also some of the big names that most of us have grown up with; brands that have been around for as long as I can remember.
The landscape is changing, that much is clear, and there’s no doubt that the internet is a significant factor as people choose to purchase on line, valuing delivery speed and choice over face-to-face interactions. And we have no option but to embrace this shift. Change can be good and things do move on; let’s not forget that the internet provides jobs and creates new skills sets. However, as we know, not everything can be bought on line; we still need to get our hair cut, we still want to meet for a coffee or a drink with our friends, try out that new sofa, or bed, and buy a birthday card.
A lot has been written on the subject of the British High Street and even television programmes have been produced where retail consultants give flailing retailers advice on how to survive, innovate, differentiate and encourage consumers to not only spend money but to spend it in their stores.
The great British public clearly still like to have a wander, pop in and out of shops and try before they buy. This has been confirmed by a recent study carried out for American Express and conducted by GlobalData. Its findings state that despite the large retailers struggling, the independents are set to remain stable for the next six years and in fact are looking like producing a small increase of 0.3% growth overall.
The survey also said that people are looking for spaces where they can do something new as well as shop and nearly two thirds of the shoppers said that they were looking for the experience and opportunity to buy things they could not on line.
I recently saw a new venture in Leeds called The Vanguard, a coffee shop by day and a cocktail bar by evening, with a quick switch around at 16:30 in the afternoon. The coffee cups and coffee machines slide to the left to reveal a well-stocked bar, the lights are dimmed, baristas are swapped for mixologists and an entirely new space is created. Innovation at its best.
The High Street is not dead; people still want to interact and to feel connected with their local community. A thriving high street can improve the outlook for the local community. Moreover, it needs all the help it can get to survive!
So, what can we do to support our High Street? Well there is the obvious – go and pay them a visit, but those of us that are in business could probably do more, we need to ask ourselves, “What can we actually do to make a difference?” Take the example above at The Vanguard, we need to think differently, to innovate, to share solutions and make the best use of the tools available to us.
At ResQ, we have deployed technical innovation that will drive footfall into the store by supporting our clients that have a high street presence. We want to encourage people to interact, engage, get involved and experience good old-fashioned service – service that you cannot get online! Imagine if you renewed your mobile phone contract over the telephone or bought a new phone for your teenage son or daughter. During the telephone conversation, the call centre advisor offered you a free appointment in your local store to set up your new phone to transfer your contacts, themes and App’s. Whilst you were in store, you could also collect your free phone protector.
All you had to do was pop into your local store and they would be able to help you make the transfer process even easier.
We’re joining the call centre experience with face-to-face customer service that adds real value to the customer, improves brand value, increases your Trust Pilot score and gets your customers talking positively about their experience with you.
#supportourhighstreets #retailinnovation #retail #differentiate #disruptor