Business on the high street has been difficult for retailers for the best part of the last decade. The way consumers shop has changed significantly – online ordering, next day delivery and the list goes on. These are but a few things, which have put pressure on more traditional retailers who also have and are facing ever-increasing rents and an uncertain economic climate and outlook.
However, with these challenges have come innovators over the last decade – retail businesses which are adapting to the changing conditions, growing and creating an entirely different shopping experience.
A broad range of these innovators have recently been featured by 365 Business Finance in their Recovery Road that charts the retailers which have been taken over, moved online or digitally evolved between the 2008 financial crisis and the end of 2018. Based on Recovery Road, below we’ve featured a series of these retailers showing how they’ve capitalised on the change in consumer habits to build and grow successful retail businesses.
(Clicks to bricks is when an online store chooses to diversify and open up a physical unit. Missguided’s success story is a case study in demonstrating the power of knowing what its customer wants) As a result the online women’s wear retailer, founded in 2009, has experienced a 75% year-on-year growth. Their core customer base of 16-29-year-olds has a thirst for fast, affordable fashion which Missguided has tapped into through social media, regularly introducing new clothing lines and aligning itself with TV shows popular with said audience. So why would a successful online retailer want to open up a shop in such a hostile climate for retailers?
Online shopping has its perks, but it fails to provide customers with the opportunity to touch and feel the product before they buy. Having a physical retail presence further allows brands to learn about their customers and to provide ‘experiences’ to connect more meaningfully with them.
Missguided’s first was a concession store opened within Selfridges. Following that success, it went on to open stores in Stratford London and Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent, with a further store opening in Dubai in 2019. Missguided’s stores are designed to create shareable social media moments, fun interactions and exploration through things like Instagrammable installations, responsive displays, socialised fitting rooms and instore female-focussed pop-up studios and salons.
Doddle (Online-offline partnerships)
Doddle is a new breed of shop which has come to our high street; it doesn’t sell directly to consumers but forges partnerships with third-party online brands and allows online-ordered goods to be delivered to a Doddle unit. Doddle stores are typically located near kiosks and concessions inconvenient places, like outside of tube stations, where people can pick up their parcels. Doddle aims to end the frustration of failed home deliveries.
However, how do click-and-collect services like Doddle hope to rejuvenate the high street? Instead of seeing it as promoting online shopping, and taking away the spotlight from bricks-and-mortar retailing, retailers should think of it as an extension of their service which can help to promote brand loyalty and assist with conversion.
For Doddle concessions, the brand report that 58% of online shoppers make incremental in-store purchases – so there is an argument that strategically placed click-and-collect units can increase footfall and bring in new demographics to physical stores (i.e. younger online consumers). Outfits like Doddle can create a seamless online to offline shopping experience that stimulates both markets.
Lululemon (Experiential retail + the experience economy)
Shoppers are no longer content with wandering around bland, monotonous stores to buy their goods – they can buy the same thing online from the comfort of their own homes. However, those retailers who are encouraging shoppers into their stores with ‘shop and stay’ experiences enjoying a 14% increase in annual turnover [source]. It’s vital that these retailers adapt these experiences best suited to their target demographic.
Lululemon is a Canadian sportswear store which is predominantly known for its yoga and athletic leggings. It differentiates itself by holding relevant events which have built a community of customers. Such events include in-store (sometimes free) yoga classes where the brand becomes much more than something you wear; it becomes part of the customer’s lifestyle too.
It’s not only experiences within shops that is encouraging consumers back to the shops; it’s the diversity and use of units on the high street. People no longer want shoe shops, department stores or travel agents – they want hair salons, co-working spaces, coffee shops and farmers markets; places which are social and foster interactions.
What can be learnt from these retailers?
These case studies are important for retail businesses – of all sizes – to be aware of and to learn from. Business is in an age where listening to the customer is paramount, where being a little different counts for a lot, and where flexibility matters – all of these things are exhibited by Missguided, Doddle and Lululemon.
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Even the smallest of retailer has the ability to make an impact in their community and to ultimately become part of the solution to change the fortune of Britain’s high street heritage.