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High street retailers need to embrace change and realise the opportunities

In the countdown to the inaugural Small Business Saturday UK, Tony Scott from Restore the High Street discusses the steps shop owners need to take to deal with the challenges they face in the ever changing retail landscape.  

It’s tough out there but when wasn’t it? Retail success has always been achieved through trading initiatives and innovation in the face of shifting customer shopping habits and stiffer competition. It’s no different today with many retailers working with these elements at their core and thriving as a result.

Furthermore, there is now support through retail promoting schemes such as local loyalty cards, BIDS and the upcoming Small Business Saturday on 7th December, driving increased footfall into high streets.

Quite simply, the winners in retail are moving on and have a sharp growth strategy encompassing marketing, sales planning, product ranging, space, web & social media and branding. Retailers who don’t embrace change in this way are in danger of being left behind.

I will be speaking specifically about Trading to Grow Profit at the Business Show in November but here are four foundations for a growth plan:

1. An online presence

You can’t ignore it! Online retailing currently accounts for 12% of retail sales and estimated to grow by 10% in 2013. Having a website is an absolute fundamental for a retailer, providing an addition to a shop not instead of it. Plus:

· It’s a window for a shop’s products and services

· It can get you to far more customers than the normal high street “pass by” trade

· In tandem with social media, it’s a great vehicle for marketing your products and offers.

2. A structured approach to buying

A forward buying strategy based on accurate analysis of historical performance, individual product sales and missed potential are the most important factors in growing profit. Failure to buy in this way will destroy margin through unnecessary markdowns.

3. A memorable brand driving customer loyalty

Great branding gets you noticed and sets you apart from your competition. Logos, packaging, signage and marketing materials all contribute to a consistent brand message.

4. A unique store experience

Vibrant display throughout your store and friendly, knowledgeable staff will attract customers, give them an entertaining, memorable visit and drive up sales.

Make your time work for you; get support

No matter how passionate you are, lack of time for independents is a barrier to delivering change as it means reviewing every aspect of the business - product ranges, staffing, marketing, visual display and overheads to name but a few. Resource is spread so thinly that it often results in no real focus on any of the key business drivers.

In short, increased profit means getting support where you need it.

“Businesses who seek external advice and information are 14% more ambitious and 50% more successful than those who don’t (BIS 2010).”

“80% of businesses that sought external advice expect to grow in the next two to three years compared with 67% of businesses that didn’t (BIS 2010).”
 
In partnership with the Forum, Restore the High Street works with shop owners to improve profitability by providing support & expertise where they may lack time, knowledge or resource. If you would like to speak to us about any aspect of your retail business, please email us at info@restorethehighstreet.com or to find out more, visit us at www.restorethehighstreet.com
 
Tony will be speaking as part of the Forum’s seminar programme at the Business Show in Olympia on 28-29th November. It is free to attend and for more information click here.
 
For more information on Small Business Saturday UK, visit the campaign website http://www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com where you can find full information on the campaign and how to get involved.  

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