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How do retailers remain relevant in today’s digital world?

Posted by Andy Soloman - 12 March, 2019

The spotlight of UK retail has shifted from a poor performance over the Christmas period to the challenges that now lie ahead for bricks and mortar outlets to remain relevant in a digital age of convenience and better value.

Having deployed a strategy of heavy discounting and deals to lure Christmas shoppers, UK retailers are now having to up their prices to account for the strain of this consistent tactic on their internal operations and supply chains. In fact, the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show the latest increase was the largest in the last six years.

These increases should allow retailers to better protect themselves ahead of what is likely to be a shambolic Brexit process but only if they can entice customers through the door, a big ask considering the difficulty in doing so before this increase in the price of goods.

A very marginal uplift in consumer confidence reported by the Gfk Consumer Confidence Index will come as little comfort and it will take far more to prevail in the current battle for survival across our nation’s high streets. With Amazon already dominating online retail their move into the bricks and mortar space will be a worry and if they can replicate their success in a physical form, it could be curtains for many more established high street names.

Providing a high-quality customer experience is of the utmost importance and we’re seeing retailers experiment with everything from in-house coffee shops, to live DJ sets during daytime hours. 

Regardless of your preference for a pastry, the bakery chain Greggs has done a particularly good job of asserting their dominance and broadening their appeal

From an organised rave for younger consumers, to the vegan sausage roll stunt and a range of Greggs Christmas presents, they’ve consistently targeted a variety of consumer groups successfully in order to keep their brand at the forefront of consumer choice. But this diverse marketing and PR activity does more than secure the company column inches in the media. Their pivot into the vegan food space has seen sales surge 9.6% in the seven weeks to 16 February, with total sales topping £1bn for the first time. 

On the flipside Patisserie Valerie, an arguable bigger brand with more prestige has seen a failure to pivot or evolve land them in all sorts of trouble, with the latest departure of their top execs proving there’s more to business than the occasional personnel shakeup.

“Creating a good customer experience is of the utmost importance to the success of any business and as Greggs have demonstrated, keeping your finger on the pulse of society is vital when looking to pivot with the times.

It’s no longer acceptable to sit back on a big name and assume this brand equity will carry you through the hard times and when you do decide to make a change, it should be a strategic one as a knee-jerk reshuffle of those at the top is far from adequate.” Andy, Yomdel CEO.

Topics: digital, retail