Mark Twain once quipped: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The same could be said for the retailers on our High Streets today.
With 27 UK stores predicted to close every day during 2019, there’s no doubt that retailers are facing a challenge the like of which they’ve never seen before.
RETAIL SALES INCREASING
But for those retailers light enough on their feet to adapt to the changing shopper environment, there’s cause for optimism rather than concern. Indeed, the sales value of retail in the UK is steadily increasing year-on-year.
The fact is, shoppers haven’t stopped buying stuff. They’ve just stopped buying stuff in the same old ways.
CHANGING BUYER JOURNEY
So, what’s the secret for a successful future in this sector?
Well, as we will be discussing in detail at our Retail Uncovered masterclass at Soho’s Groucho Club on Friday 14 February, it all comes down to understanding your customers and the role a physical store plays in the modern buyer journey.
Today’s shopper is a sophisticated being with high demands and expectations for levels of both service and delivery as a result of the dramatic evolution of technology in recent years. 82% of customers, for example, consult their phones in store for price checks, comparisons and reviews regarding purchases they intend to make.
RISE OF ONLINE SHOPPING
Many of us are also, of course, making more and more of our purchases online. In fact, internet retailing is more popular in the UK than any other EU country. (Not sure how much longer we’ll be able to use that comparison!)
Justin King CBE, former CEO of Sainsbury’s, recently highlighted that this need not be a long-term issue for retailers: “In 2020, 20% of retail is occupied online. So, in 2030 I predict 30% of retail will be online. But in 2030 we won’t recognise the distinction between an on-line and in-store sale; it’ll all blur into one.”
Looking forward, the successful retailers will be the ones that let their customers shop when they want, how they want and using the channel they want.
Beyond this, the retailers that work hardest to acquire customer insight and use it effectively to personalise shopping experiences will be the most successful. To that end, 86% of retailers will invest in AI and Machine Learning this year.
Providing a memorable shopping experience is possibly top of the ‘Must do’ list for bricks and mortar retailers – something online retailers are simply unable to match. By next year, customer experience will overtake price as a key brand differentiator.
If you’d like to dig deeper and find out more about how retailers can take advantage of the evolving landscape to win the war for shoppers, there are still a limited number of places available at our Retail Uncovered Masterclass in Central London. You can request to attend our morning-long event on February 14 below.