Retailers right across the spectrum are working hard this year to succeed. The challenges presented by the continuing economic downturn are impacting at all levels, but for independent retailers the situation can feel far worse, with limited support structures and perhaps even a sense of isolation. And this pressure is on top of factors such as retail parks, supermarkets, and online. But at Shoppercentric we believe there are some positive factors that indie retailers should focus on.
How Shoppers have changed their behaviours…
Shoppers have changed as a result of the economic situation – they are much more savvy and more considered in their purchasing, and they are changing their shopping behaviours in ways which can benefit the indie sector:
- Using local stores to save on petrol
- Using smaller (local) stores to avoid the temptation of the big box outlets or department stores
Even the impact of online retailing is offering the indie sector opportunities, as shoppers who choose to use bricks & mortar are increasingly looking for great service and curated ranges that will suit their needs – factors on which indie retailers can deliver more effectively than corporate chains.
What our research findings tell us about people who want to shop with Indies…
Research we recently conducted online among a sample of 1047 shoppers indicated the benefits that shoppers believe indie retailers bring to the retail landscape – although the details here are measured specifically in relation to clothing retailers, the same factors could be part of the offer in other sectors:
- 35% score indie retailers excellent on “A place I enjoy shopping” vs average 25%
- 31% score indie retailers excellent on “stocks styles I can’t find anywhere else” vs average 18%
- 23% score indie retailers excellent on “giving me ideas for outfits so I don’t make mistakes” vs average 15%
- 29% score indie retailers excellent on “helps me get the most out of my money” vs average 23%
Bearing in mind the average is based on retailers such as John Lewis, M&S, Next, Primark, and New Look these figures demonstrate the opportunity for indie retail to deliver the enhanced retail experience that shoppers are looking for.
The importance of trust based relationships in the new retailer-consumer engagement model
In other research we found that shoppers really appreciate the relationships they develop with local shopkeepers – frequent visits drive those relationships leading to a sense of trust and loyalty. Some of the best examples shared with us have been about shopkeepers who take a real interest in their customers: alerting them to forthcoming promotions on favourite items; keeping back products they know they will like; and even keeping an eye out on young children sent to pick up essentials! The delivery of personal and personable services can go a long way to counter concerns about indies being more expensive.
Shoppers really do care about their local high streets
A further hopeful sign is the increasingly heated debate about our high streets, with the Mary Portas Town Review and more recent Parades to be Proud of report from the Department for Communities and Local Government, acting as catalysts to the discussions. The strong opinions being expressed through local media is evidence that shoppers really do care about their local high streets, and an acknowledgement that shoppers have to play their part in creating and supporting a thriving high street – shops can’t exist without them.
Difficult times bring out the best of entrepreneurial spirit…
So, indie retailers who genuinely understand their shoppers, who range the products their shoppers want/need at fair prices, and who deliver a positive shopping experience through excellent service and ambience, should feel positive. Offer the right service and your local community will want you to succeed. But don’t feel you have to do it alone – work with other local businesses to actively sell the high street, whether through a high street website, a local loyalty scheme or even a sharing of learnings and ideas.
Difficult times indeed, but such situations often bring out the best of entrepreneurial spirit, and then things can only get better.
This blog was written by Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director of Shoppercentric – www.shoppercentric.com