The British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently issued a press release that announced a record reduction in retail unemployment, with hours worked having gone down by 4.2% compared to the same time last year. According to the BRC's chief exec, Helen Dickinson OBE, this is due to a technological revolution in retail. TwentyCi's Commercial Director, Nick McConnell, discusses in a new article for Retail Tech News, some of the solutions for this new landscape.
Nick suggests that the traditional bricks and mortar high street and shopping centre retailers are in a period of change, not only due to technological change but also the weaker pound, rise of inflation and squeeze of discretionary spend available. Similarly, the "always on" availability of online stores provides choice and convenience as a new standard has put pressure on these retailers.
So what's the solution to stop the physical store becoming a thing of the past? Today's retailer is more empowered than ever to make smart decisions about store locations, ranges and more. This should be combined with clever and relevant marketing; the stores should be using available data to communicate to consumers effectively. Big data underpins the ability to understand the sociodemographic of the store catchment and, with it, the ability to determine the appropriate ranges. Additionally, with proactive collection of customers’ details through online purchases, collections, refunds, or loyalty programmes the retailer can ascertain further insight into their customer profiles together with the distance travelled and the reason for coming to the store.
The physical store isn’t dead, but it does need to be optimised. Nick describes recent findings from work with a national furniture retailer that customers were choosing to drive past their nearest store in favour of one located in a leisure and shopping destination: “This is reflected in the rise of ‘hero stores’ at the centre of shopping destinations such as the House of Fraser at Rushton Lakes or the new John Lewis at Westgate Oxford. Technology can provide retailers with the insight to allow them to reduce the size or number of stores, and optimise the potential of the customers available.”