Maplin. Toys R Us. Poundworld. These big brands all have one thing in common: a failure to adjust to the evolving high street and ever-changing consumer expectations.
As far back as 2011, retail consultant and broadcaster Mary Portas, recognised that:
“New benchmarks have been forged against which our high streets are now being judged. New expectations have been created in terms of value, service, entertainment and experience … These reasons alone conspire to create a new shopper mindset which cannot and should not be reversed.” The Portas Review: An independent review into the future of our high streets, 2011
Despite its age, the message of the government-commissioned Portas Review remains relevant today. However, one thing has changed: the ability for technology to provide increasingly agile, smarter solutions to retailers’ pain points.
Here we set out five of the most common challenges experienced by our high street retail customers and their data-driven solutions.
Problem #1 – High Street Footfall is Decreasing
Modern lives are busy. Which means less time for strolling down the high street and perusing products. Instead, the rise of online shopping has taken customers away from physical stores replacing footfall with single-click purchasing.
Solution #1 – Make the High Street the Place to Be With Bespoke Solutions
High street stores have the upper hand when it comes to providing the human touch. And technology is effective in enhancing this personal experience and creating a truly bespoke services for customers.
Take Bravissimo: this high street lingerie chain keeps detailed records of customers’ previous purchases and makes them accessible to staff via mobile devices.
By enabling staff to access a customer’s bra and clothing size they’re able to:
- remind customers of their size when carrying out fittings creating a sense that the brand knows them
- see previous purchases and make recommendations resulting in more sales
- access electronic receipts via the customer’s postcode making returns slick and effortless
It’s this kind of positive shopping experience that has helped Bravissimo grow and it’s now looking to open its first shop in the US.
Problem #2 – In-store Consumers Don’t Get What They Want When They Want It
The average shoe size for UK men is a 10. But go to some high street retailers and you’ll be hard pushed to find that size consistently in stock across the store.
This is difficult for people to swallow, particularly when they can find multiple items in other sizes. Or they’ve seen the product they want online and have popped into a store to try it on. It’s these kinds of scenarios that represent lost opportunities in terms of sales and loyalty and that frustrate customers. Giving them another reason not to visit the high street.
Solution #2 – Improve In-store Stock Levels
If your business relies on outdated stock counting and manual record keeping, it’s time to catch up with your competitors.
REPL regularly works with major retailers to address their stock issues. By providing real-time inventory management technology that links data between systems you can:
- remove human data input errors
- access real-time data via flexible mobile technology
- save management time and forecast demand with data analytics
Armed with the information you need, supplies of goods can be matched with demand meaning more sales and fewer frustrated customers.
Problem #3 – High Street Space is Expensive
Even the biggest retailers aren’t immune to the changing high street. In fact, it can be the scale of high street premises that make it difficult to turn sufficient profits. Even the stalwarts of the sector, including Marks & Spencer and Arcadia’s Topshop and Miss Selfridge, are cutting their space on the high street.
Solution #3 – Make Stores Work Harder With Incorporated Warehousing
Sweating your assets is the key to making large footprint stores work for your business. One way to do this is turn part of your store into a warehouse.
Not only does this make every square foot work harder but on-site warehousing also means:
- more rapid fulfilment
- local picking
- better carbon footprint
- reduced last-mile cost
All of which adds up to improved profits and happier customers.
How can you do this while still retaining sufficient space on the shop floor? By introducing cutting-edge technologies to deliver real-time stock control that keeps you on the front foot. With accurate data at hand, your employees can deliver improved service and more sales.
Problem #4 – Fulfilment is Too Slow
Multi-channel retail means ordering online and picking up instore. Which relies on slick data transfer and failsafe processes.
Ordering and paying for an item only to find it’s out of stock and won’t be available for weeks is unacceptable to modern consumers. Or arriving in store to pick up a purchase to discover it hasn’t been put aside and no-one knows anything about it also won’t cut it.
With more demanding and more impatient customers to deal with, data and systems play an important part in meeting expectations and retaining loyalty.
Solution #4 – Rapid Delivery Supported by Real-Time Technology
Supply chain systems that once met customer demands are quickly becoming out of date. Modernise your systems with REPL’s bespoke distribution solutions that simplify complex stock, streamline availability, ensure rapid delivery and even manage unfulfilled orders.
With slick systems in place, your customers will click and collect. And will be likely to come back again.
Problem #5 – Consumers Want a Personalised In-store Experience
Retail CMOs have a big challenge on their hands. Intense competition. Increasingly price conscious customers. Tight budgets. Ongoing pressure on margins.
Understanding consumer behaviour is key to ensuring a better service while increasing revenue. But the increasingly complex path to purchase means only 8% of retailers use full cross-channel personalisation.
This isn’t helped by a disconnect between online and offline journeys. Retailers are isolating online data and insights from in-store purchase history, loyalty cards and offline CRM. Individually, these data sets provide only part of the story and fail to enable employees to provide the hyper-personalised service customers have come to expect.
Solution #5 – Take Individualised Service to New Levels With Technology
Your customer experience is only as good as the information your employees have at their fingertips. Which means well-informed employees are crucial to the success of your business.
With the right data capture and predictive modelling on-hand, your employees are equipped with tools to:
- provide efficient, cost-effective promotions
- exceed customer expectations
- transform your customers’ experience
- help employees collaborate by sharing queries and finding solutions
- make it easier to upsell and close more sales
- increase conversion
- nurture a loyal customer base
Meeting changing consumer expectations is critical for the success of high street retailers. Rely on out-of-date systems and processes that fail to join up and your customer loyalty will be as shaky as your tech.
Catch up with those leading the way and employ agile technology that fits with existing systems and processes while remaining cost-effective and adaptable.