Times are hard for high street retailers. As many shoppers choose to buy online rather than on their local high street, many bricks and mortar businesses, both large and small, have been forced to close down as a consequence. Should you own a store yourself, you will understand the need to do all you can to stay open in the face of online giants such as Amazon. In short, it’s do or die, for you, and for all of the other high street retail owners trying to stay relevant in these changing times.
So, what can be done? How can the online threat be countered?
It’s about making an excellent first impression. It’s not only the threat of the online giants that high street retailers face, but it’s also the threat of the high street competition. Making that excellent first impression is necessary to attract customers into the store in the first place. An unattractive storefront just isn’t going to cut it, so finding ways to catch the consumer’s eye is a must. Signage is the first step, using services such as design your sign to stand out on the high street. Attractive window displays are important too, offering that incentive for the customer to come into the store and find out more. And when the customer enters the store, pleasant and helpful customer service will also offer that positive first impression that will encourage them to stick around and explore the store.
It’s about offering what online retailers cannot. And that is the immersive experience that cannot be attained when shopping online. While you can zoom into a product on your computer screen, and while you can watch video tutorials, you can’t touch, smell or try a product first-hand. No matter how well-designed the website, it’s still no substitute to the sensory explosion that a decent retailer will offer the consumer. Today’s store owners are having to think outside of the box when it comes to attracting customers into their outlets, and as can be seen in the following examples, they are focussing on those immersive experiences that Amazon still hasn’t the power to replicate.
It’s about connecting to customers online as well as off. Through social media and email marketing, high street retailers can spread their brand to potential and existing customers online. They can highlight special offers and rewards, giving people an incentive to make that trek across town to the store. And retailers can offer stock online, be that through their own website or by using the online competition, such as Amazon, to create further sales. To avoid being online altogether is a serious misstep for any retailer looking to survive today.
It’s about changing with the times. As the shopping arena changes, so must the high street retailer. Going online is a start, but there is more that can be done. They can replace old stock and bring in something that offers more relevance to today’s consumer. They can use technology to improve customer service. They can implement modern payment methods. They can offer additional services in store, such as first-hand tutorials of products. They can do all this and more, in the battle to stay relevant in the changing consumer market.
The battle isn’t over yet. High street retail isn’t dead. But changes need to be made. Should you operate a retail store yourself, ensure you are ready the fight.