13 Oct The future of the High Street in the UK
The UK High Street has faced numerous challenges over the past decade. Retail has suffered considerably from economic pressure following the Credit Crunch. Today, customers are moving to a more online, omni-channel pattern of purchasing behaviour. Where does the future lie for this sector? And how can retailers give their people more effective working environments?
Proactive rather than Reactive
Retail across the UK is coping with the changing patterns of consumerism in new, innovative ways. Ricoh has partnered with a number of leading UK retailers and has helped to weather the shifting marketplace, by helping our partners give their people more visibility of information and more reliable systems and processes to be proactive. Rather than responding to change after it has happened, retail has a wealth of customer data at its fingertips that can be used to plan ahead strategically.
Some businesses are concerned that changing shopping habits spells the end for the UK High Street. This is not likely. Retail can, and should respond to the new shopping habits by bringing together marketing and IT to proactively set out their stall. For example, new technology-powered ‘pop up stores.’ Thinking creatively about how, and where we engage customers has meant that some retailers are reaping the rewards of an omni-channel approach.
A stronger eco-system
If young consumers see in-store and online as part of the same experience, retail workers need a strong ecosystem to help meet these needs. Building new infrastructure now will support future stability, so that IT staff are no longer on the back foot.
Retail must work closely with their IT Departments, and look at best practise, to decide on how to build a responsive back office system, and plan for the future. At Ricoh, we’re experienced in building robust back office systems for large UK retailers, enabling IT teams to vital breathing space to focus on innovation and creativity. To find out more, click here.
Sink or swim
Whilst it’s true that some stores will flourish in this new environment, and others may inevitably fail, there are some ways to ensure that your positioning gets the right result. Although the High Street may be transforming, some areas are making record profits. Airports are a key area of high footfall and turnover, although the overheads may be much steeper. Today, where you position yourself to get the right result is everything.
Use customer insight
Although it can be hard for retail staff at all levels to react fast enough in an ever-changing sector, using customer data to build insights can be the secret to longevity. Retail data holds many answers to delivering better customer experiences, tailored to meet specific audience needs. The key thing to remember, is that online and physical stores both need to understand these insights and action them collaboratively.
What does the future hold? Customers now expect more from retail, as online giants such as Amazon have disrupted the market. Rather than struggling to compete, the key to success today lies in giving staff effective processes that makes them responsive to change and delivering a memorable customer experience. For more information, and to read case studies of how Ricoh have helped UK retailers stay competitive, watch our case study.