Saturday, 22 March 2014

Recycling empty shops is key to the future vibrancy of the High Street

The below article on the Management Today website seems to bemoan the fact that the High Street has spawned Charity Shops and Betting Chains, but the picture is much more complicated than that-

There needs to be a progression away from shops that sell products or services that we can find cheaper and easier online towards places that offer an experience. product or service that we would rather see or circumstances dictate that we can't do online.  On the "Risers" side of the chart are great examples of this-

Although we mainly book these online (see the decline in travel agents on the "Fallers" side of the chart) we can't stay in a virtual hotel.  Good quality basic accommodation at competitive prices will always attract visitors to the correct locations.  The success of Travelodge and Premier Inn are testament to this.  Having a budget hotel in or near your High Street will provide you with extra trade.

Convenience Stores
We buy this at our convenience, as the name states, so it's not a pre-planned online purchase.  As the supermarkets develop their Click & Collect offerings via convenience stores then this area will get bigger and bigger.

Cheque Cashing
This has similar background to convenience stores, as there is a shorter run-up to this decision and the nature of the business and clients lead this to being a face-to-face transaction.  As technology develops, this may be an area that could go online, as was reported last year, with banks allowing customers using technology to pay in cheques.

Sports Goods Shops
I feel this one area is on the list due to the expansion of Sports Direct over the last year.

This is the growth area that I find most startling on this list. And with the advent of virtual gaming machines on your smartphone and online betting accounts that you can access from anywhere, is the one area that I don't see being a long-term upward trend.

The areas that have seen falls are areas that have seen a large growth online, such as travel agents, recruitment agents, video libraries and photographic stores.  This will only continue, but regeneration of our High Street into something that is fit for purpose in the modern World is essential.  I have mentioned Click & Collect before, and this is a great way of combining online and High Street parts of a business.  It combines the best parts of the online experience (convenience and price) and removes the worst part (paying for and waiting for the delivery.)  If you are not offering this service now, then you must seriously consider it.

Online-only retailers, such as Amazon are rumoured to be setting up demonstration stores where you can try the latest games console, for example, then order it there and then for home delivery or Click & Collect.  On a recent visit to a shopping centre on a weekday, the only 2 shops that were busy were Build A Bear and the Lego store.  Both were offering an experience, like the demonstration store.  Offering your customer an experience, whether that's building your own soft toy or building your own Lego characters, gives them something m ore than a transaction - it's an event.

Another stores that I have seen similar experiences are Sainsbury's, where I was offered a croissant with jam and then told which croissant and which jam, to enhance my experience (and make me buy some!)

Then there are the beauty stores (Boots are good at this) where they offer you a makeover, show you online videos with make-up tips and then sell you the relevant products.

None of these things can be experienced online!

Not everything can be bought on the High Street - Kindle edition of The Book Thief

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