As Bob Dylan famously sang, 'the times they are a changin.'
On today's high street, retail stores are under threat, and many have already been forced to shut up shop. We aren't just talking about the little guys, either, as many big-name retailers have gone bust in recent years. Why? It's largely due to the online competition, as many customers now prefer the convenience and flexibility of such internet retailers as Amazon, Very, and eBay. Chances are, you may have added to the problem yourself if you are forever adding items into your virtual baskets instead of your high street checkout alternatives.
So, what can be done about the problem? Are we living in the age of the high street retail apocalypse? Will our town centers become wastelands of abandoned shopping carts and barren stores?
We aren't sure of the answer, but if you're a high street retailer, you shouldn't go down without a fight.
Give your store a facelift. While the online competition offers the biggest threat to your business, there are also your nearest high street rivals to consider. Ensure your store attracts attention then, utilize the services of such companies as Crescent Printing, Copying & Graphics to create bright and attractive signage and banners. Focus on your window display to tempt people with a brief glimpse of what else you have inside your store. And get the paintbrush out! Be creative with your colors to increase your store's visibility.
Do what Amazon can't. And not just Amazon, but find ways to do what any online retailer will find difficult to replicate. Focus on the customer experience, and offer in-store services to help customers find what they need. Allow for hands-on demonstrations of your products. Amazon might offer next-day delivery, but you might be able to offer same-day delivery for any of your larger products. And by taking a cue from what these innovative stores have managed to do to win customers, you can take advantage of today's technologies to create a fun and immersive shopping experience your customers won't forget in a hurry.
Offer something that is unique to your store. Stock your shelves with products that customers won't find elsewhere. So, instead of selling mass-marketed merchandise, you could focus on locally produced items, or even merchandise items you have designed and created yourself. We are thinking custom-designed fashion, new drink and ice cream flavors, hand-crafted gifts, and any other items and products that are unique to your store.
Promote your business more. Marketing is key for any business, and so it is for you. Make the effort to do more to promote your business, using the ideas we gave you here. From using social media to get the word out about what your store can offer, to taking advantage of local media news channels to promote new product lines and services, you can push the word out to ensure your business isn't overlooked or ignored.
Make the move online. If you can't beat them, join them! It's an old motto, but a useful one. You can still keep your bricks and mortar store, but you can complement it with an eCommerce presence. It's about creating an omnichannel experience, integrating your physical store with your online alternative. This way, you stand greater chances of success, as you will improve the customer experience, make double the number of sales, and have a fail safe should the unthinkable happen, and your high street store is forced to close.
High street retailers have the right to be worried, but it's not the end of the world just yet! By following the suggestions we have presented you with here, you can increase your chances of survival. Let us know what you think, and if you have any other suggestions for our readers, be sure to share your ideas with us.