It's time for high street retail to wake up - PC Retail

It's time for high street retail to wake up

With Maplin being the latest big-name retailer to fall, retail business practices need to change – and fast
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By  Simon Buckingham – retail marketing and gaming manager, TP-Link 

By Simon Buckingham – retail marketing and gaming manager, TP-Link 

In light of recent news in the retail environment, there is a lot of doom and gloom. When I worked in retail on a shop floor it was during the last recession in 2007/08. Our staff figures dropped from 15 people on a Saturday to a five or six if we were lucky, while still trying to maintain the same level of service.

In my current role in retail marketing I have seen the transition of independent retailers disappearing, and we all saw the likes of HMV among many other big name retailers struggling. Does anyone remember Woolworths?

If you were to imagine your own finances, but make the numbers bigger… when you start to realise you are losing money – even if it was £400 or £1000 – you’d sit there and worry. Then you’d start to ask: ‘what am I doing that currently needs to stop?’. But instead, a couple of years pass and news reports suggest you have over £200 million in debts. How?

Maplin

This was part of the recession mentality – wage freezes and price increases. Today’s consumers are a lot savvier and businesses are being found out. Retailers of course have to make money, but there are many factors that come into play.

We stand here on the brink of losing many more huge retailers and I am not surprised. There are some that have assessed consumer behaviour and ‘look through the eyes of the recipient’. This mentality is overlooked far too much and the consequences are hitting hard.

Go into a typical store and try to find someone free, particularly on peak days. It can be very hard, so what do you do? The next best thing is to push the educational piece in the best way possible. The silent salesman! I take great pride in in-store execution, POS and customer education. A customer has limited time to shop, and they get distracted or bored very easily.

Retailers need to assess their stores, from a profitability perspective and visually. We all know online is taking over more and more every year, which is why it is even more crucial to get it right in-store!

Are products positioned correctly? Does it reflect the market trends? Do you walk in and find Smart Home at the front of your store or do you see fading tech?

From a vendor perspective, the same should be looked at. Are our products shown in the best way, or are they just sitting on a shelf? Price promotions only go so far. If you are not helping drive traffic as you would online and shouting out why the customer needs this product, you will struggle.

Too many businesses overlook the importance of visual store presence and the customer journey, relying on computer information and not using the traditional method of store visits and understanding what customers need. It’s time to wake up and help keep what we can of retail or our high streets will be just empty shells.

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