Do you own a retail business? Here I introduce my inaugural ‘Spotlight on …’ series focussed on the major trends in this embattled sector.

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I took a wander around my home city of York over the festive season with Max, the family Cocker Spaniel.  We were pleased to find that there were lots of people out and about, taking in the sites, and the shops, and offering a friendly ‘hello’ and a stroke (to Max you understand!).  I was especially pleased to find my favourite independent coffee shop open down by the river, even if it was only serving takeaways.  

I spent some time chatting with the owner, who I haven’t seen for some time, and asked how business was for her.  She explained that it had been up and down, which is only to be expected.  She also explained the difficulties that the week to week uncertainty around demand, and whether she was allowed to open, caused with ordering supplies, arranging staff, etc.  But she was optimistic and upbeat about prospects moving into the New Year.

Although I was pleased to find my favourite coffee shop open, it was less pleasing to see the number of shops that remained closed.  And this in spite of the potential footfall from the abundant, though appropriately socially distanced, people on the streets.  It was even more disheartening to see the number of shops that had obviously closed for good.

With one in ten retail establishments forced to consider closing without sufficient sales leading up to Christmas1, and 38% of consumers spending less over the holiday season2, while disheartening, this wasn’t a surprise.

These are very challenging times for the retail sector.  It’s been been under pressure for years, and Covid and Brexit are only quickening the pace of change and uncertainty.  And recent big-name failures show that it’s not only the smaller outlets that are struggling.  That’s why I’ve chosen Retail for the first of my ‘Spotlight on’ series.  In it, I’ll be discussing the main trends and challenges, together with some thoughts on how to respond.

In the first article I’ll be challenging you to think about your customers, who they are, and what they want.  Developing a deep understanding of your customers can help you to retain them which according to some surveys can mean an increase in profitability of between 25% and 95% through an increase in customer retention of just 5%3.   

From there, I move onto the Customer Experience looking at what this means in-store, online, and across the two.  The companies who are still thriving in these difficult times are those that get this right.

Finally, I’ll take a look at the opportunities for local innovations in the face of other recent trends.

Throughout, I’ll provide relevant statistics to help quantify the challenges and opportunities.

My intention is not to provide you with any answers as these can only come from you by knowing your customers.  My aim is to raise your awareness of some key trends, and to broaden your choice of how to respond to these trends by exploring the types of opportunities that accompany them, and asking some questions that I hope will provide some inspiration.

I hope that you’re still passionate enough about your business to want to make the changes necessary to thrive in the face of recent trends and events. But, if you are finding it difficult to find the motivation, or you just feel stuck or overwhelmed by it all then don’t struggle alone. Get in touch for a no obligation discovery call to see how I might be able to help.

1 https://www.retailtimes.co.uk/local-shops-and-businesses-on-a-cliff-edge-as-one-in-10-face-permanent-closure-without-a-successful-christmas-trading-period-research-shows/

2 https://www.capgemini.com/gb-en/resources/2020-holiday-shopping-consumer-survey/

3 https://info.braze.com/rs/367-GUY-242/images/Modern%20Customer%20Retention.pdf

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