At a time when consumers are increasingly picky about where they shop, when online competition is fierce and the market is awash with low-cost providers, independent retailers could be forgiven for thinking their days are numbered. However I’d suggest they are wrong… Consumers have cash to spend but don’t want to waste it. They want to know that when they spend that they have spent wisely.
Consumers welcome advice, support and guidance when shopping
The vast majority of consumers welcome advice, support, guidance and expert input when shopping and especially if they are buying unfamiliar items that perhaps aren’t part of their everyday essentials / boring basics!
With that in mind, who better to turn to than a local, friendly, independent store? A person whose business is part of the fabric of the local community, not a faceless chain-store, supermarket, or online giant, but someone who the customer can build a trust-based relationship with.
The future can be very bright for retailers who offer excellent service and high quality product
I believe that the future can be very bright for retailers whose service proposition and offering centres on a high quality product backed up with expert advice and support for customers – these differentiators will be the key to attracting new potential customers, converting them into spending customers, securing their loyalty and benefiting from their recommendation of your shop to those in their social circles.
The Independent Retail sector is growing in importance…
And it’s not just my opinion… survey after survey are producing results that prove consumers are seeking a better experience, more variety and that they welcome increased numbers of independent retailers in the high street. Stats from BIRA (British Independent Retailers Association) show consumers have turned their back on clone towns and that they are voting with their feet (and wallets). In 2012 UK retail vacancy rates remained relatively stable yet there was a net loss of chain-store occupied retail units. The answer to this conundrum? A net gain in the total number of store-based independent retailers and a positive change in the national average retail mix, from c. 66% of all units being independent to 69% independent last year. A trend I believe will continue.
How to stand out from the crowd – use the 10-steps to retail success!
However, to be successful it’s critical to offer something different and to stand out from the crowd. But this is woolly marketing speak and difficult to break down. To tackle this I developed the 10-steps to retail success methodology. This enables independent retailers of any size and any maturity to create their own, unique action plan to identify areas where they have gaps to ensure that the customer experience, from point of contact and thereafter, is excellent and will underpin long-term loyalty.
The 10-steps are (each is a link to a dedicated blog about the step):
- Defining your Goal and Mission
- Deciding your Positioning
- Identifying your Ideal Customer
- Creating your Range Plan
- Implementing your Pricing and promotional policy
- Developing your Channel & Location strategy
- Designing your Customer Engagement processes
- Determining your Sourcing & Supply chain model
- Planning & Controlling your business
- Setting up an effective Back office
Step 3 is pivotal to everything you do – identifying your ideal customer.
In business we can ALL be guilty of trying to sell to everyone. However, it’s been proven that those who are crystal clear about WHO their ideal customer is have far greater success. My advice to retailers hoping to raise their game (and sales) in 2014 is to take time out to define their ideal customer and then focus ALL commercial decisions with that individual at the heart… e.g. “Would my customer buy this product?” and “What promotions would my ideal customer respond to?” – When you develop your range, pricing, promotional approach, routes to market and overall marketing / customer engagement approach around an ideal customer it works because it resonates with exactly the kind of people you know will be loyal, profitable customers. Try it. It’s so simple, yet so effective!
I wish you a successful 2014!
To learn more about the 10-steps to retail success, and how your ideal customer is pivotal to your business success, take a look at my book “The Retail Champion – 10-steps to retail success” http://www.retailchampion.co.uk/steps-to-retail-success/ or sign up for 52 FREE weekly retail tips to help you to BE a retail champion by next year – http://www.retailchampion.co.uk/retail-tips/