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The State of Retail – How the Independents can win in 2018

Costs continually increase, there is no certainty in the marketplace, online continues to grow, high streets are contracting – there’s no doubt physical retail has been taking a beating over the last decade.

We all know why online shopping has appeal: Quick and easy price comparison, next day delivery, the ability to order from anywhere – online shopping is more often than not a frictionless experience and it continues to take its toll on brick and mortar shopping.

Over 1300 retail locations closed in the UK in 2017. In fact, in the decade since 2007, there have only been 2 calendar years where retail closures in the UK have dipped below 1000 (2010 & 2015). Conversely, that number has been above 1500 in 7 of the last 10 years. What’s scarier is that this data only reflects medium to large retail chains with more than 5 stores. You can add hundreds if not thousands more when considering smaller independents with no specialist offer.

But it is not all bad news for retailers, especially independents and family-owned specialists…

For a long time now it has been an accepted myth that the new generation of shoppers are at the root of the decline of the physical store. Our tech-obsessed youth that can’t go five minutes without tweeting this or snapping that, are eroding the fabric of human to human interaction and taking shopping down with it. Finding no need to engage with anything but a screen and amazon-ing their way through life, who needs brick and mortar?

But this is simply not the case. In fact, recent research suggests that half of millennials actually prefer going into stores and that somewhere in the region of 25 percent more millennials than baby boomers visit a range of stores whilst out shopping.

Millennials may well take the opportunity to ‘showroom’ stores more than their parents (as you would expect in this digital age), so the need to attract shoppers to you and convert them whilst they are in store is more pivotal than ever.

Here’s where the even better news lies for smaller operators: independent local and family-owned stores are the locations of choice for consumers when browsing and making buying decisions. These locations are perceived by the modern consumer as more trustworthy and reliable than the big boxes. Your job is to attract, convert and retain these shoppers if you don’t want your business to become another statistic.

Research carried out by credit card giants Mastercard has shown that this holiday season, smaller independent store’s sales growth will increase at a faster rate than larger retailers (a trend established over the last two years). Whilst large retail giants across the world will, of course, continue to take the lion’s shares, it is becoming ever clearer that shoppers feel there is a lack of personal connection in those stores and they are turning to smaller specialists to give them that personal feel and emotional connection.

Experiential retail as it’s become known isn’t new, far from it. Good advice and service are the hallmarks of a great retailer, so why is it so hard to deliver these days? It isn’t! Play to your strengths. Your unique offer, personal service, quirks and idiosyncrasies are exactly what’s shoppers crave. You can also be super focused and flexible, adapting your offer to your audience. Audience is key here, retail is storytelling.

It’s quite simple when you think about it: shoppers may want advice, they may want validation of the choices they have made, they may want to see what the product looks like before buying? Whatever it is, there is a reason that a customer has walked into your store and as the owner or manager, it is your job to ensure every single customer enjoys the story being told by your team.

So, you have an advantage, you are closer to your customer than the multiples and WAY closer than pure players. But you need some essential building blocks to make sure your team can weave those stories and convert visitors into customers. Knowledge, relevance and the ability to listen and respond are essential to winning new business and keeping customers coming back.

Training your in-store associates to be well informed, engaging storytellers isn’t easy, but this is where you have support. You’ve probably always had the assistance of your suppliers’ reps to call upon, but that’s getting harder and more expensive to deliver effectively. This is where the digital revolution in retail can really work to your advantage.

Applying the efficiency, availability and simplicity of an online training platform ensures that your sales associates have all the support they need to give customers the greatest experience. And it’s there for them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – not just when your supplier reps drop by.

With Myagi, the online training network you can:

● Access hundreds of online lessons from the brands you stock
● Select from hundreds of skills development courses
● Give your associates access to the training you want them to see
● Easily find time for training, no more out of hours sessions
● Enroll and monitor activity and outcomes across your team
● Deliver consistent and quality learning

As a retailer you can claim your FREE account on Myagi making sure that your store hits the ground running in 2018, developing your sales associates from order takers, into experience makers.

Visit to claim your free account and capitalize on the increased traffic your store is set to see in 2018.

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