As the UK continues to battle the pandemic and we wait for the government’s route map out of this national lockdown, we’ve been helping our non-essential retail clients prepare for reopening, making sure they are in the best possible shape to welcome back loyal customers and attract new ones.
Exceptional times call for exceptional retail
There’s no getting away from it, the pandemic has hastened the retail sector’s evolution and caught out independent retailers and retail giants alike. Those without a strong online presence have lost out to their competitors and been left wondering why they didn’t invest sooner in their omnichannel future.
Yet despite the current challenges facing physical retail, stores will play a vital role in the UK’s retail recovery but they must offer an exceptional experience. That means shifting away from just ‘selling’ stuff towards a more customer-centric, service-based approach.
Of course the ‘experience economy’ has been growing for some time, but the lockdown isolation that consumers are feeling makes their need for positive human connection all the more important. They’ve been forced to buy nearly everything they want online but where’s the joy in that?
Survival of the fittest
When non-essential retail restrictions are finally lifted, many consumers will be desperate to resume physical shopping again, and retailers need to reset and evolve if they want to survive. They need to be ready with a very warm welcome and a really engaging, ‘exceptional’, customer-focused in-store experience.
Of course there are no shortcuts to delivering exceptional retail but the list below reflects some of the priorities we’ve been working on with our clients across a range of retail sectors. We hope you find these helpful too as you chart a course through the coming weeks and months ahead.
Learn from consumer insight studies: your brand is definitely not what you say it is, it’s what your customers think and feel about it. Update research to stay on top of changing consumers’ mindsets.
Revisit brand vision and values and ensure all staff (instore as well as online) are on board with your direction of travel.
Review brand communications: your brand stories to customers must be clear and consistent across all contact channels (physical and digital).
Review customer service processes – these must be consistently exceptional.
Listen to staff and customer feedback to help prioritise development strategies.
Watch what the retail innovators are doing and learning from them.
Embrace a culture of experimentation in order to constantly evolve.