High Streets Initiative 12 July 2018

How smaller retailers can stand out on a changing high street

Retailers that create genuine points of difference will stand out from the big names
As major high street businesses struggle to cope with the rise of ecommerce and changing shopping habits, Gary Little, co-CEO at consumer finance specialist Duologi, looks at how smaller retailers can thrive in the new retail landscape.

The past few months have largely been characterised by a variety of high street retailers opting to close their doors in favour of moving theiroperationsonline, with ONS figures?reportinga 17.3% increase inonline sales year-on-year.

House of Fraser and Mothercare two previous heavyweights of the UK high street have both cut back on a significant numbers of stores in order to streamline their business and create a bigger emphasis on e-retail.

However, despite popular opinion, this step-change does not necessarily mean the death of the high street. Instead, were seeing a new retail landscape wherein flexibility and customer choice is king, and consumers give their custom to brands which provide something different, whilst allowing them to shop where, when, and most importantly how, they want.

Considering that?82% of consumersfeel under-represented? by larger brands, the growth opportunities for smaller retailers, which tend to be more flexible, agile, and in touch with what their customers want, could be huge if leveraged correctly.

With this in mind let’s look at how smaller, more flexible retailers can thrive in the new retail landscape.

Offer something different

Although counter-intuitive, the best thing that smaller brands can do to compete with huge brands istry not to compete.

Retailers that create genuine points of difference a quirky in-store service or a very niche online product offering will stand out from the big names and earn their place in shoppers? hearts, rather than just competing on price.

This is particularly true when it comes to great customer service. Anyone who has ever tried to get through to the helpdesk of a huge global brand will tell you it can be a lengthy, frustrating and sometimes fruitless process.

Moreover, some larger retailers perhaps due to lack of resource or training can often be lacking in friendly and knowledgeable staff. This is where smaller retailers can really step up, by offering a personal service that customers want to come back for.



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Listen to what customers want

Large brands have access to enormous pools of data and this top-level analysis works well to predict generalised trends in consumer needs. However, smaller retailers are far more likely to be in tune with what their particular customers want and should use this to their advantage; allowing themselves the flexibility to adapt to changing desires as and when they occur.

In fact, recent research has shown that over half believe that retailers could improve their customer experience by listening to feedback.


Business development