Sunday 26 January 2020

The One Thing Certain In Retail Right Now

The one thing that is certain in retailing right now is uncertainty. The ups and downs, particularly of consumer sentiment, are creating an uncertain business environment for all retailers, including market Traders. But there are upsides.

It is difficult to get guarantees on anything to do with trading and certainly the customers, employees, owners, and suppliers of the likes of Harris Scarfe, Jeans West, Bardot, and many others, would love to have had some guarantees of stability. The reality is that there are few guarantees in the middle of a retail revolution.

So what are the upsides? Well, perhaps the biggest one is opportunity. In the share market, a good time to consider buying is when a market correction is going on. Getting in to retail right now could be good timing if you are committed to the industry, happy to look long term, keen to learn from emerging trends, and wise enough to pick on categories with potential.

When an industry is shaken up it creates opportunities for those ready to meet changing needs. Reading the signs, experimenting, adapting to change, are all qualities most likely to succeed. If you view these conditions with fear then the future may be difficult. If you see them as opportunities then retailing may become the exciting challenge that many of us have experienced in the past.

There is a lot of advice out there about what to do. Just this week a retail commentator suggested retailers needed to look for supplementary sources of income related to their business. Tide, the US detergent brand recently created a chain of dry cleaners, while toymaker Lego has invested in the movie industry. How that translates to smaller businesses may well be worth some thinking power and perhaps a subject for a future SBMS information session.

One of our own Traders this week said she believed the future lay in imparting vision to customers. She talked about attaching value to products through creative design and merchandising. By creating products with a story and connecting with the customer we could transform boring product purchasing into an entertaining experience.

And finally, an article in Power Retail this week about the future of retailing contained the line – “We’re living in tough times – there is plenty of uncertainty. But with patience, and the willingness to adapt, we won’t see the end of retail, we’ll just see it changing.”

By Greg Smith