Updated: Mar 9, 2020
High Street: Is a Revival on the Horizon?
2019 was the worst year on record for retail and even well-established brands struggled to bring in shoppers. There is only one way forward - putting the customer at the centre.
The high street needs to fight back with new experiences and more exciting products. Customers don’t need as many physical stores, so it’s key to make the ones we do have count. Brands that have customer experience at the forefront will do best.
"Retail is not just about product any more. You have to have a presence; a sense of theatre,”
Says Reiss Founder David Reiss. Brands need to offer customers theatre, art and innovative technology as well as excellent products and customer service. Building brand loyalty can be much more difficult nowadays, in most cases, there will be many other brands that have a product or service similar to your own.
Retail Isn't Dead, It's Changing.
As long as companies don't panic and develop their marketing strategies in line with what consumers want, retail is not dead. People can get everything at the click of the button but they still like to shop and visit stores, they just need a better excuse.
I think that companies who give customers other reasons - besides their products - to visit them will come out on top.
Here of two of my favourite success stories of companies doing just this:
1. When MADE.com relaunched their Soho store, and made digital technology integral to the customer experience. QR codes were assigned to each product in-store, allowing customers to easily find (and buy) what they see online. They also offered in-store workshops to showcase new trends and offer customers personal style advice. (2019)
2. When Allbirds took a stand against Black Friday by emptying its London flagship to raise awareness around “conscious consumerism”. When most other stores bombarded customers with sale offers, Allbirds removed all products from their shelves to make way for their creative workshops. (2019)
Retail sales will continue to struggle in the current economic climate, but if brands offer customers more reasons to go than just their product, whether that is innovative technology, a mind-blowing customer experience or a unique stance on current issues, they will be successful.
2020: A Defining Year
Retail is already changing and has been doing so for a number of years. In 2020, we will see it evolve further.
Millennials are the biggest customer group and they are extremely time-pressed. Quality experiences and leisure time is important. This will change the shape of the high street as more spas and exercise classes like Frame and Barrecore launch new stores. Sales of athleisure and trainers will continue to rise as a result.
Many brands have nailed multichannel but haven’t yet got fully developed or integrated omni-channel digital strategies.
What Fashion Trends Will Shape 2020?
To be honest, I can't predict whether shoulder pads or leg warmers will make a comeback. Or if the start to the new decade will inspire a flurry of feathers and flapper dresses.
But I do think that the circular economy and sustainability is becoming more and more ‘fashionable’.
Greater focus on ma