Members of our Retailer Advisory Board, as well as representatives from industry leading retail companies, met to discuss the modern high street at our High Street Conference. The panel discussed topics near and dear to UK independents, such as the importance of data in retail and the opportunities for getting discovered on the high street. The panel also elaborated on the options that retailers have, to aid them in fulfilling their customers’ needs and growing their business. Far from the usual doom-and-gloom that we hear about the high street, this panel of retailers and industry leaders show real confidence in the future of UK independent retail.

So what can we learn from this discussion?

This panel was very information rich. There’s an awful lot that independent shopkeepers can learn from this discussion. Our panellists had a lot to say about data, discovery and fulfilment. Modern retailers need to understand and optimise their business, in each of these three areas, if they’re going to stay competitive on the high street. There’s a lot to learn about the use of data, the factors influencing discovery and the tools that exist to aid retailers in fulfilling orders. So what are some of the key points to take away from this discussion?

Data can help you understand (and target) your customers

Successful modern retail is data-driven. Retailers gather experience selling to their customers. They understand what people buy. When in the year, the week, or the day they make their purchases. There’s a lot that can be understood about a business, through experience. But it certainly helps to have some numbers and statistics to back the numbers up. In the panel discussion, our Retailer Advisory Board members talk about the effect that installing an EPOS system had on their company. EPOS systems allow retailers to track their sales and stock and can provide data analytics on these areas of business. With this data, shopkeepers can have numbers and stats to inform and support their decisions going forward.

Panel discussion on data, discovery and fulfilment, at our High Street Conference

Similarly, customer data offers the opportunity, in advertising, to better target customers. Integrating data from sources such as your website or EPOS system, to inform your advertising, you can optimise to target only the kind of consumer that’s looking for your products. Modern marketing isn’t about mass-reach. You don’t need to hit millions of uninterested to people to sell your products. You need to target the interested few, that are going to be enticed into your store, by your advertising. Using data to make your advertising more effective means your marketing budget can go further.

The role of the web in discovery

It’s one of the biggest issues of modern retail; can the internet really help you get more customers? And the answer, from members of our Retailer Advisory Board, is yes, but you’ll have to put in the effort to make it work. The internet is like a great theatre, full of performances and with an audience of millions. You can’t just turn up and expect to be an overnight hit. You’ve got to put in the work to attract an audience and engage your viewers, to keep them coming back. Rowena Howie, of Revival Retro Boutique, talks about how she grew her Instagram following into the tens of thousands, and is seeing the growth it’s given her bricks-and-mortar business. Similarly, Simon England, of The London Cycle Workshop, speaks about how blog posts, on their website, keep customers engaged online. In the end, it’s this sort of engagement that will convert website visitors into in-store customers.

The demand for convenience and options for fulfilment

Consumers today have very high expectations of retailers. Every big chain is offering delivery these days. Most offer click-and-collect too. If independents are going to stay competitive, they need to meet their customer’s expectations of convenience. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for independents to get started offering greater convenience and fulfilling their customers needs. For example, delivery services (such as CitySprint Health and Urb-it, who took part in the discussion above) are expanding their reach all over the country, making it easier and easier for independents to offer convenient delivery for their customers, wherever they may be. Meanwhile, advances in the field of payments technology are allowing retailers to offer ever more convenient forms of payment. With the advent of contactless payments and even phone payments technology, you can bring in more customers by accepting whatever payments they’d prefer to make.

 

There’s an awful lot more we can learn from our retailers and industry leaders. There’s a lot that we couldn’t fit in this video, or this article. So make sure to stay tuned for more discussions, debates and independent retail stories from our conference!

If you have any thoughts or questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

And don’t forget to check out our partners’ special offers on all things retail, on our special offers page.