In the news this week are latest footfall reports on January 2016, as the headlines proclaim the High Street struggles once again. Footfall fell 1.3% in January year-on-year, which marks the deepest decline since June 2016 and the post-Brexit vote slip when footfall plummeted 2.8%.
Shopping centres were worst hit: footfall slid 3% year-on-year, making it the 12th consecutive month of decline at shopping centres. On the High Street, figures were down by 0.8%. Cue “death of the High Street” and “online cannibalisation”. But when the UK High Street is still the main channel for 45% of shoppers, it still has a firm place. The trick is making your stores more relevant to the consumer of today.
- It’s all about stock
Consumers admit to visiting retailers’ stores for browsing purposes, to see how a garment will physically look and wear. So, how to make those browsers convert into purchasers? Making your stock readily available where it’s needed most must be the focus for retailers this year. With business rates increasing, and online competition, it boils down to the simple fact that retailers must generate more full price sales per square metre. The store is an asset that must be maximised for the best return.
Having items in-stock that are most likely to be bought, in the correct sizes, must be a number one priority. This requires an omnichannel supply chain solution with the flexibility and dependability to utilise a central stock pool to efficiently fulfil and replenish demand across all channels. Stock management and movement must also be achieved more profitably – rather than shipping items to store from the warehouse, our retail IT solution Merret will ship from store if it’s more cost effective.
It’s a fact that customers want items faster, with priority delivery options being favoured by over half of shoppers. If the item can be seen, tried, and bought all in the store visit, this greatly improves the store customer experience. Or, if it’s out of stock, make in-store ordering an easier and more joined up process, so that the customer isn’t left feeling like they could do it themselves. Which brings us on to the next point…
- Educate, communicate
7 in 10 consumers say that when they go shopping, they know more than the store assistant. This is changing the culture of the store from one of expert advice and valuable experience, to a plain nuisance. We’ve all been there – the store assistant goes to “check in the back” for your preferred size and never returns, or can’t direct you to the correct location, leaving you to fumble around the store for a good 5 minutes, before giving up and leaving empty handed.
Retailers must invigorate store teams to sell well, and give the consumer an experience to remember. Technology such as our Merret Tablet Inventory can give store staff the tools they need to please the demanding customer. It’s demonstrated here at Karen Millen, as the customer asks to check stock in other store locations, which is performed and actioned right there and then.
- Creepy vs cool
Shoppers want retailers to tailor the experience, without invading their privacy, so retailers must find ways to achieve this in more sophisticated ways. Moving on from in-store beacons and promotions, We explored the latest examples of personalised customer experience through cognitive computing at this year’s NRF Expo – making use of car journey data, IBM Watson technology suggests stores to visit en route that would appeal to the customer.
The fitting room is another private area that retailers can maximise, using fitting room technology with outfit suggestions. We demonstrated this at our retail technology pop-up, Nexpo.
We’re discussing how retailers can create a store-of-the-future that’s realistic, affordable and easily implemented, at the Pure London Show tomorrow, 14th February. Alex Broxson, Head of Marketing at Retail Assist will speak about our Nexpo project in collaboration with Karen Millen, that took visitors on an enhanced customer journey experience with seamlessly integrated technology in a real store. Gain invaluable insights as to how your own store can genuinely increase conversion rate, without the need for expensive technology that’s hard to implement.
Sign up for the show here. We’ll be on the Spirit Stage at 10:30am!