– Richard Voisey, Nwes Business Consultant
The high street has been making the headlines over the last few months with some big names suffering from severe financial pressure.
The most recent being New Look, Maplin and Toys R Us. This is on the back of Jamie’s Italian and Prezzo downscaling operations and a number of businesses going into administration including Thetford based MultiYork and Palmer & Harvey.
- There are a number of elements associated with the trend, including the cost of living being greater than income rises caused chiefly by increases in energy and food combined with the continuing austerity measures. By volume, retail sales have continued to grow but at a much slower rate – falling from 4.7% in 2016 to 1.9% last year.
- Online shopping continues to grow. The United Kingdom had the third largest e-commerce market in the world back in 2015. E-commerce accounts for 20 percent share of total business turnover in the United Kingdom. Roughly 80 percent of UK internet users did online shopping, the highest online shopping penetration rate in Europe.
- Some retailers simply aren’t paying attention to sociological change taking place amongst the UK population. The way we buy, what we want to purchase and the service we expect as a customer are all changing.
- Mainly retailers are not accounting for increases in overheads including wages through the impact of the minimum wage enhancements and business rate increases caused by local authorities having to balance their books.
- Finally, retail and especially catering are arguably the most competitive markets to work in. Customer service, value and profit are critical to ensure that an adequate piece of the financial pie can be obtained to keep the business afloat and hopefully return a profit. High streets are also challenged with accessibility created by traffic calming, pedestrianisation and increasing car park fees.
Tips to Survive and Prosper
- Online browsing can lead to real life purchasing so an effective website is vital. Savvy shoppers will search online and then head to the high street to purchase.
- Make sure your shop is registered with ‘Google Places for Business’ to ensure photos, opening times and a map are displayed online.
- Selling is a profession when carried out correctly and a shambles when conducted by an amateur or order taker. Do you and your staff know ‘The steps of the sale?’ Have you had adequate training? Can you tell a story? Can you build a relationship? Are you a master of product knowledge? Can you build desire? Are you able to ask for the business?
- Work with local groups, organisations and charities thus embracing the community. This will build public relations and create more opportunities to sell.
- Work hard at unusual, unconventional, low-cost marketing campaigns that will focus customers minds onto your business.
- Ensure you have a thorough social media marketing plan, again its important to be creative and not just list products and services.
- Create a sought-after loyalty scheme to draw in new customers and attract repeat custom.
- Take advantage of national, regional and local platforms that you can use to market your business by piggybacking their initiatives.
- Professional mechanising is critical to make sure your products look there best and are seen in the best light.
- Manage sales with military procession and ensure all routes for potential footfall are utilised.
Finally, treat your customers like gold, without them you have no business!