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23rd Dec

Navigating the current U.K. Retail landscape

While it’s true that retail is currently navigating uncertainty, and many store owners in the U.K. have faced a slow start to the holiday season, there are positives to be had, consumers are still keen to spend, and we are seeing businesses evolving and adapting in wonderful ways to meet these demands.

So, what are the changed spending habits we’ve found? And how is retail evolving in this current economic climate?

One-way retailers can adapt to engage with the modern consumer is through Omnichannel. Omnichannel Definition – “Omnichannel refers to a customer-centric approach that integrates all channels, delivering a unified and consistent brand experience across physical stores, apps, and websites. It ensures customers can seamlessly interact with the brand across different platforms, enhancing their overall brand experience.”

 

To capture these consumers, it is important to understand that omnichannel and in store shoppers exist within the same entity. For example, a customer coming into store after engaging with an email or Instagram post, or a customer trying something on and purchasing the item later online.

Retailers will succeed if they work on streamlining their physical and digital touch points and adapt to creating a seamless shopping experience.

Omnichannel isn’t just about bringing customers into store, it’s about maximising sales across all available channels and offering services such as; click and collect, check store availability and social commerce. Creating a seamless omnichannel experience requires unified messaging and cohesive visuals, reaching customers wherever they are in an on-brand manner. An existing example of omnichannel being used to merge physical and digital is in store QR codes.

QR codes can be displayed next to items or collections to provide customers with more information such as product reviews, styling tips, collection inspiration, influencer content, etc. All these examples push sales and can direct shoppers to digital touchpoints, increasing opportunities to engage with customers further.

 

Though these digital deliveries of information are important, in person advice and knowledge of product is still something many customers value, which leads onto the next point, service.

 

As an after effect of the pandemic some consumers missed those day-to-day human interactions, and for them making a purchase is more of an experience driven activity.

Smaller retailers are often great at cultivating a more personal correspondence with their customers, fostering a valued and trusted relationship. This dynamic provides these retailers with more opportunity to enhance sales as they understand their customers and their preferences.

 

For others, the pandemic has led to a want for minimal human interaction when shopping. Alongside this, numerous major retailers have implemented self-service checkouts, which for many customers, has become something they’re familiar with. Those who prefer a quick, in-and-out experience when making a purchase enjoy this.

 

 

Customers are undergoing another shift in their shopping behaviour, which is the move towards sustainable and value-driven purchases.

Year on year sustainability and ethics grows as a concern, and consumers have realised that real change needs to come from big business and legislation. This lack of control over the way companies decide to conduct themselves has led to consumers beginning to use their wallets to promote their own values. Retailers must be aware of how consumers are spending their money more wisely and leveraging their purchasing power for positive change. There is a level of contradiction around this though as alongside rising concern around sustainability there are increasing levels of demand for speedy delivery times, which results in the use of more packaging. According to IBM, nearly 6 in 10 consumers say they’re willing to change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental impact.

In the current state of financial difficulty, switching to environmental solutions such as biodegradable materials and reusable packaging can seem an inefficient expense. It’s a decision that’s ultimately down to the retailer to consider. However, you decide to adapt to the new retail landscape, McKinsey put it simply “Retailers no longer have the luxury of choosing to stick to business as usual.” Whether you’re a large multiple retailers or an independent boutique, it’s important to look at what can be offered to customers beyond retail.

 

Exploring new creative ideas to offer to your customers can be exciting and can allow you to get a feel for what they respond well to as well as their preferred ways to shop.

One of our retailers came up with a fantastic initiative for the festive season centred around the idea of a Christmas wish list. Customers can write items they desire from the store on their wish list and include details of their partner, family, etc. The store then reaches out to the specified person(s) via call/email, notifying them re-items on their wish list. The store can reserve the items to collect in-store or provide convenient click-through links for purchase online. Another effective tactic a few of our retailers enjoy is creating engaging videos of new collections, where they are talking through key pieces

and outfit building. For independent retailers this is a great way of selling to customers outside of the store, as it gives a glimpse of the in-store experience virtually.

These are just a couple of cost-effective ways retailers can adapt to customers’ needs and increase footfall as well as sales.

 

Ultimately, it is key to continue re-evaluating your customer base and evolving as they do. No two retailer is the same and therefore neither is their consumer. Learning their preferences and adjusting accordingly is essential and can be done by simply asking questions and gaining first hand feedback.

We would love to hear any ideas you or your team have implemented and how they have benefited your store. Additionally, if you’re considering any new ideas and would like our support, please contact marketing@lovebrandsuk.com and let us know.

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