Shopper perceptions of independent retail by @shoppercentric for #IndieRetail

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 –

About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
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