The high street has changed. I used to go out simply to shop but not anymore. Visiting the high stree is now a social activity done when I get bored of being indoors and online. I imagine that I’m not the only one doing this.

So why are retailers still ONLY selling when most people don’t go out to buy?

In the new economy we live in, most people including myself don’t make a purchase until they have reviewed and compared prices both online and offline where possible. The only exception to this is when buying an item that has been branded as an aspirational luxury item, something to reward myself for all the hard work that I’m doing. In this case, price is not relevant – it’s all about quality! I’ll happily hand over my money for that well-deserved treat.

This is why most luxury retailers have survived despite the economy and despite the terrifying rate that small retailers are closing down. To survive, retailers both large and small need to understand the psychology behind a purchase to be able to make the most of changing consumer-spending habits.

In the UK, Mary Portas, the Queen of Shops was commissioned by the government to conduct an independent review into the future of the UK high streets. She ended up with 28 recommendations for the government and three pieces of advice for small retailers that could help them survive the changing landscape of our high street.

Mary advises Britain’s shopkeepers, to focus on experience, service and specialism.

This advice is great because I only go out for the experience so giving me more of a wow experience will have me back at your shop for sure. One way to do that is to provide an excellent and specialist service. I agree with Mary. Specializing and finding a niche for your retail business is such a huge deal because it makes your marketing so much easier and more effective. Mary Portas’, advice is sound advice for any industry and retailers will benefit greatly from implementing her advice.

I have 3 things to add to Mary Portas advice:


My first addition to Mary’s advice is very simple. A little advice that will make or break your retail business. It is the reason why most retailers don’t survive long enough to see the benefits of implementing the 3 ideas that Mary Portas has suggested. It’s the Achilles heel of most entrepreneurs. It is financial and cash flow management. Retail cash flow is being squeezed on one side by high rent, business rates, staff, advertisement, loan interest etc. and on the other side by falling sales. The way out of this trap is not only selling more but also cutting back on the other side of the cash flow equation. It is not a challenge that is unique to just retailer but the discretional nature of retail purchases makes them more vulnerable to the economy and its impact on consumer spending habits. All businesses needed to keep a sharp eye on their cash flow if they are to survive long enough to innovate and implement the strategies outlined in Mary Portas report.


My second addition to Mary’s advice is to go online is a BIG way. One of the first things I do when I visit a shop I like is to check out their online presence. Retailers who take their products online are more likely to reach a global market, which can lead to more sales. Going online makes it possible for people to spend with you from the comfort of their homes. You cannot afford not to be online in this social media driven world. More emails are being opened on mobile devices and according to recent research by IBM, a record 15% of people are accessing retail website via their mobile devices. To those that don’t want the added workload of web management, websites like like responding to this need by targeting small retail stores without e-commerce efforts of their own with an online shopping site that enables participating boutiques to sell to a global audience. The growing world of apps and people being psychologically tied to their gadgets, unable to ignore a notification, makes it good business sense for every business owner to explore how they can harness technology to grow their business.


And finally if what you’re trying to sell is below par, no amount of Mary Portas’ advice, cash flow management, marketing 
campaigns, social media tactics and sweating will help. Get your product and concept right from the start so that you can compete on more than price. Be quirky, be unique and be willing to do something that people are NOT doing in your industry.

Of course there are other things that you need to be doing to improve your retail business but these few points should kick start your business.

Any thoughts? Share them.

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Griselda K Togobo

by Griselda K Togobo | Follow Her on Twitter Here

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