What’s the retail sector’s picture?

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With yesterday’s horrid news from the high street where thousands of jobs are set to go as major names announced the closure of stores and others cut roles in head offices combined with firms who are cutting previously furloughed staff as the scheme starts to wind down. The retail industry isn’t looking too healthy on the surface; with Intu going into administration, John Lewis keeping some stores permanently closed and Harrods cutting 680 roles.

But hang on consumers have been stuck at home….  

Have retailers with a strong ecommerce strategy already nailed been able to take advantage of bored people, with money and tech to order online?

What about retailers who aren’t online what does tomorrow look like for them? And will they still have a loyal consumer following?

And what about those whose doors have been closed, have they been re-imagining or re-engineering?

Are there any winners? 

Whilst the high street has been crippled and it’s still quiet out there we know that online shopping hasn’t dipped. Some people have shopped online for the first time due to COVID19 and this trend changing won’t be changing anytime soon. Some businesses, such as Gymshark, who have a huge online presence, have seen huge growth during this lockdown period as customers get their retail fix online combined with the boom in exercising at home. 

Brew Dog have been particularly proactive during the pandemic; changing the way things are done (committing to sustainable energy for production), developing products for the now (Hazy AF IPA), given some yeast to the desperate Marmite manufacturer and provided essential supplies (hand sanitiser) to the NHS and public during these times.

Approach adaption is also visible from Peter Brown, director of the Forest Brewing Company, they recognised a gap in the market when the pubs closed, and now drives his ‘tactical beer response unit’ to his customers by serving them pints at their home.

Then there are small local retailers like https://the-bean-hive.co.uk/ who have transferred from being a shop on the street to selling their gift ware range online creating an ecommerce website really quickly in response to seeing the shop doors locked for a signification period of time.

The queues outside Primark and other stores in all our towns and cities last week as they flung open their doors highlighted that retail really isn’t dead. Primark certainly weren’t winners in the first three months during lockdown and their sales were hit exceptionally hard by having to close their doors. But when they opened their doors their buying crowd returned.

The ever evolving retail landscape 

But there is definitely going to be more of a need for presence online and also on our highstreets.

“The old way of retail has been dying for years and COVID19 finally pushed it off a cliff. But a more resilient retail industry is shaping up right in front of our eyes. The future of retail is already here, it’s just hiding in plain sight.” (Tien Tzou: CEO Zuora).

So with this in mind, how can you ensure that your retail business survives and more importantly thrives?

Mary Porter gave an interview to the BBC about how this is a ‘window of opportunity’ for local high-streets. It’s an opportunity for physical retail to rethink how they operate and keep the high street alive. With the drive to shop local, support local businesses and buy local consumers are ready to get back to supporting the small shops and independent retailers that make up our small town centres. It’s essential you tap into your local community as well as think about your social media marketing and online selling strategy.

And if you want to get involved locally you should definitely complete Marketing Derby’s survey to help shape our city; Derby and imagineering is essential to keep our retailers tills ringing!

Ensure exploitation of multi-channels

You’ve heard about not putting all your eggs in one basket and hasn’t this been highlighted to every business owners? There’s a real importance of moving your business into ‘multichannel retail’. The key is to get the basics right, make sure you’ve got a system which will enable you to grow into each of the different areas in the future. Being able to sell through your website, through your social channels and opening up more and more channels to create a robust strategy will ensure you’re a winner.  

Now is the time to be talking to your customers. Listen to what they have to say and what they want. Above all, make sure you are providing the best service and products you have to offer through a channel that suits them best. 

We wish everyone opening their doors for the first time on 4th July the very best of luck. Stay safe.

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