The high street is a competitive area. Even before the arrival of COVID-19, there have been extensive articles written about the trials facing many retailers across the country, especially in the wake of digital shopping and aggressive companies, such as Amazon. Now, as the pandemic leaves many retailers unable to recover, such challenges continue.
However, despite the situation, many businesses continue to find their place in brick and mortar stores. Bookshops have made a surprising recovery over the past decade and smaller, independent retailers have seen communities rally around them during the lockdown. Even larger brands are keeping their stores open despite an established online presence. They see the value in a physical store, especially the way a shop can support a brand’s identity, leading companies to value flagship store, even those that act as a showcase.
Amid the changing demand of high street retail, there is a fundamental formula that remains mostly unchallenged. Stock is displayed, browsed, and sold. Except for a handful of examples, such as Argos or Build A Bear, this is the essential structure of a store. And, despite its simplicity, many retailers continue to struggle, making one of four common mistakes that can disrupt or compromise their business.
Cater to Your Community
A few years ago, the nationwide bookseller, Waterstones, was struggling. Then, in an ambitious move, it decentralised the individual store control from its head office and, instead, gave responsibility to store managers. This meant that individual Waterstones stores were able to stack their shelves and order stock with their local area in mind.
By doing so, they began to find greater success, meeting community demand while retaining the order and appeal of Waterstones’ brand.
Approve Your Own Safety Standards
Many retail businesses rent their shop space, trusting that the property owner keeps the building compliant to the government’s guidelines. Unfortunately, this is not always true and many businesses are caught out, failing to meet even basic standards. Each asset of the store, especially those that are relied upon for safety, such as timber fire doors, should be checked and approved by you or a manager. The responsibility for safety is shared and should be considered as part of daily routine.
Know Your Service Suppliers
Keeping records and contact details of your service suppliers, such as security and energy, is important. They are easy to neglect, often written down and then forgotten about until an emergency occurs and staff cannot resolve it. To ensure you are always covered and that, in the sudden absence of electricity or in the presence of endless fire alarms, you and your staff have access to all necessary details, telling of who to call and what to do.
Offer More Than Your Product
A common feature that many successful high street retailers have is their knowledge of a product. The internet may often offer extremely competitive prices, however, it seldom offers face-to-face conversation regarding a specific product. This is a major advantage that businesses have over their digital competitors. Ensure that those acting as the first point of contact within a store are entirely familiar with the products on offer so that they are able to answer the questions of customers and impress them with their service. Without such knowledge, customers will be more inclined to search for the product online and your presence on the high street is more likely to be called into question.