Calling for an independent retail revolution #indieretail by @AnnectoUK

January has brought some bad news for the big boys of the retail world… Retail giants including Tesco, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer reported a fall in sales over the crucial Christmas trading period – news that should encourage independent small businesses across the UK to up the ante and focus harder on how they can win over the consumer.

Major retail chains reported poor performance during Christmas peak trading period

While Tesco is blaming “further weakness” in the UK grocery market for a 2.4 per cent decline in sales in the six weeks up to January 4th, Morrisons reported a shock 5.6 per cent fall over the festive period. Meanwhile, M&S suffered its third Christmas of declining clothes sales – something chief executive Marc Bolland blamed on unseasonably warm weather in October.

Time for the Independent Retail community to lead a revolution!

In other words, the time is ripe for a retail revolution, and independents should be leading the way! Shoppers are voting with their feet, and it’s time independent businesses made sure they started walking through their doors.

It’s no secret that in the past three decades, the rise of out-of-town shopping centres and enormous everything-under-one-roof has struck a massive blow to the Great British High Street. The past five years in particular has had a devastating impact on the number of small businesses forced to close as a result of the recession. According to The Telegraph, a shocking 27,000 small businesses closed in 2009 alone, and many continue to struggle.

But, with the economy improving and constant reports of green shoots, now is time for independent businesses to stand up and be counted, and cite the differences that make them a better, preferable option to their big-name competitors.

The local high street should be the hub of every community. People shouldn’t want to get in the car to visit large chain retailers, they should relish the opportunity to invest in and support their own peers – everything from the local pub and coffee shop to the green grocer, butcher, baker, boutique and beauty salon.

The beauty of being a small, independent business is that the world is your oyster. Unlike the manager of the nearest megastore or hypermarket, managers and their staff can take the time to get to know their customers, greet them by name, know their preferences and their passions; in short, offer the kind of excellent one-to-one customer experience that the big boys can’t hope to achieve.

Strong customer relationships inspire loyalty and recommendations

Such customer relationships inspire loyalty and recommendations – and going the extra mile to meet a customer’s needs, be it introducing them to a fabulous new cheese ahead of tonight’s dinner party, speaking to the chef to ensure that dietary needs are accommodated, or ordering that precise shade of nail varnish that a customer has been hankering for at her last three manicures, will make you stand head and shoulders above your competitors, however big and shiny their building is!

Quality products, attention to detail and outstanding customer service are the three keys to success – never underestimate them, and independents across the country should make 2014 the year that they raise their game. Never mind what sales figures the retail giants record this year, SMEs should simply focus on making sure theirs are going in the right direction!

This blog was supplied by @AnnectoUK who are one of the sponsors of the Support for Independent Retail campaign. For more information about Annecto visit http://www.annectouk.co.uk/

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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 champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
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One Response to Calling for an independent retail revolution #indieretail by @AnnectoUK

  1. Reblogged this on Urmston Independents and commented:
    This optimistic post explains how independent retailers will always have an advantage over the big guys.

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