Within our consulting team at Retail Remedy we have far more years senior experience than we readily admit to which is why we are often called upon to share our thoughts on the state of the nation (in retail terms).
Paul Thomas, one of our senior consultants, was interviewed by Nick Cotter for cpcstrategy.com who wanted the inside story on what retail trends to expect over the next 12 months.
What types of challenges do we see retailers facing in 2016?
“We believe the challenges for next year will be in; People, Space and Technology.
People –Employee Engagement will be even more important, and companies wishing to succeed will need to have a clear and effective plan as to how they will ensure their teams are engaged. The Living wage is starting to garner lots or media attention, and as more retailers follow Lidl’s lead, it will bring those yet to commit or move into sharp focus. Obviously money is not the only motivator, and many would argue only a maintenance factor, but it will certainly create a dialogue and some movement.
The Living Wage will come at a cost, so companies will be looking to see how they can absorb and pay for this. Greater productivity across the supply chain and better margins will help fund the increased costs.
A recovering jobs market and a changing culture towards how long people stay in a company will mean companies needing to work hard to attract and retain talent. Learning and Development will be top of the list for prospective employees deciding where they want to work.
Space – The space race has already seen significant changes, with a number of retailers looking to shed the number of stores they operate, whilst some in the discount and convenience sector are pushing ahead with growth plans. How to maximise the space and make every square foot work and pay for itself, will be a key element in the strategy.
Technology – How to stay relevant in the world of technology, offering customers the opportunity to engage and transact digitally has been a factor for some time. This is only going to become more crucial.”
What are some opportunities for growth retailers can take advantage of in next 6-12 months?
“Mobile – The growth in mobile has been fantastic, and continues at a pace. Those who can adapt their strategy or introduce this channel, will be able to enjoy great success and Space as mentioned will be in clear focus, but this also creates an opportunity to use it better, to gain greater returns. There maybe a number of opportunities for brand collaborations such as those seen with Homebase and Argos.
Productivity and Efficiency – With increased cost from wages, and trade not growing as fast as years before, productivity will be an area where retailers will want to turn their attentions.
The opportunity here lies in streamlining head offices and the supply chain to allow for more front end associates, not however at the cost of customer facing associates. “
What are some ways retailers can stay competitive in today’s market?
“Back to basics – We believe there will be a clear drive to review and improve retail standards and the customer journey. The more a retailer can look through the eyes of the customer the better they can be. Greater numbers of customer facing employees will be required, so looking for savings in non customer facing areas will be essential.
Mobile has already been mentioned as a source of growth, but to stay competitive, retailers will need to integrate their channels. Seamless Integration has been a phrase that has been bounded about for some time now, but what does that actually mean, and how can you achieve it?
Putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, how can you ensure the experience online reflects that in store, and reflects that on mobile. Allowing customers to order a product from the back of a taxi on the way to a meeting and then collect from a store later in the day is just one example of where integration will be effective.”
We would love to know what your thoughts are about the future of retail and what trends you are following, their impact on your business and what we can do together to make the most from the opportunities. Get in touch.