High Street Retailers Must Adapt to Survive

Your store network, what’s the plan – Increase the number of stores? Decrease? Relocate? Redesign? 

The UK high street is changing, as we have seen recently, major resident organisations are reducing their high street footprint. Marks & Spencer recently announced store closures, Maplin and Toys R Us are to disappear altogether. While it’s hard to find a company that isn’t making serious decisions about their high street presence, one thing is clear: retailers must adapt to survive. 

True Omnichannel 

The main aspect missing from most retail organisations today is the true omnichannel approach – all customer touch points should be merged into a seamless flow.

Customers today demand flexibility, they use multiple channels before making a decision, so support them. If your customer starts a purchase in-store and finishes online, then your sales process worked. Measure it as it is. Don’t separate online and in-store channels, view them as a single process and strive toward creating a seamless experience for customers.

The starting point for any genuine omnichannel approach is a single view of the customer. Let your customers move across channels. Allow them to pick up where they left off, without having to enter data again and search for the product or service they found previously.

To complete the cycle, allow any agent (or chatbot) to access this information from anywhere – instore, online, call centre, etc. 

Inspiring Environments and Service

Transform your physical stores from transaction oriented environments into highly personalised, inspirational meeting places – making wow factors the norm, and bringing people together.

Once you have a seamless multi-channel approach then your stores can shift in this direction. It shouldn’t be about reducing the service time – your stores should offering a more personal touch. The customer experience should be tailored, you really should know your customer, and give them the service they expect.

For instance, some customers want a quick and simple service so they can get on their way. Others will prefer a more comprehensive service; requiring the careful explanation of a complex contract or the ever-evolving features of devices in your store.

The bottom line: Service time is not an indicator of customer satisfaction! 

Core service stores should have the expertise and agents that develop rapport and offer complex services and advise. Pop-up or lean stores should provide better accessibility for collections or fast, shorter transactions – where customers need them. However, in order to deliver a seamless service, your store network must be inter-connected and responsive to customer needs. 

Sales are a core focus for any retail organisation. But you can’t create a true omnichannel experience when you're fixated on sales targets at store level. You need to view transactions in the context of all channels; from source to sale. Then have the ability to calculate the cost of a transaction, irrespective of how many channels the customer crossed in the process. If a customer views in store and buys online that’s still successful service – you can still incentivise the agent while making sure you offer the flexibility your customers expect.

Flexible Software Platforms

Whatever the roadmap is for your store network, you need to choose a platform that can adapt quickly and efficiently; ensuring customers only feel the benefits, and do not suffer any negative effects.

The key is to analyse your data: how do you work, what do your customers want, and how do you get these working together?

The answer lies in a true omnichannel approach and a single view of your customers.

As you move toward a channel agnostic organisation and address your processes across platforms, you will experience the benefits. Not just from your stores, but a clear improvement in customer experience across all channels. Leading to a reduction in complaints and other business demands, an increase in sales and better customer retention.

It’s not what you do – it’s much more about HOW AND WHY YOU DO IT.

  1. Create the best experiences for your customers
  2. Personalise the visit (know your customer)
  3. Make stores inspirational meeting places
  4. Profile and create different stores, from core service to pop-up and lean stores
  5. Most important – have a plan to merge channels for a seamless approach

I hope you found this article useful, and feel free to share your experience in the comments section below, or reach out to us directly.