Who’s the real competitor? Who’s the real enemy?
The massive changes that have swept across this land and others, the decimation of high streets, town centres and the taking away of the retail heart of communities, though tragic and physically real are the result of a shift in mind-set. The mind-set and shopping patterns of the customer.
And whilst there are a range of practical measures that must be taken physically on the ground and through legislation to create a viable landscape to rebuild these once flourishing centres, perhaps as much a challenge to this renaissance will be the process of changing the mind-set, not only and ultimately of the customer but primarily that of the retailers themselves.
“Choice” is at the heart of the need to change our mind-sets because no longer is it a choice of individual retailers or town centres to be professional-or-not, competitive-or-not, customer focused-or-not and desirable-or-not, because the customer has already spoken with their feet, or more precisely with their cars. “Choice” is in the hands of the customer as to where and when they frequent to shop…and nothing is going to change that mind-set. The majority of customers simply and economically cannot afford to be that sentimental about “choice”.
Competition is between shopping locations and not individual retailers…we are all in this together. The traditional mentality of the ideal shopping street for any retailer, the one without direct competition, is literally dead and buried in rubble. Lack of competition leads to complacency and the lack of any reasonable choice for the consumer delivers nothing but dwindling traffic and a fight for the spending scraps of the disinterested and disengaged customer.
Competition is healthy within any retail community as a stimulus for improvement and innovation, to build a realistic and attractive proposition of “choice” for the customer with the commercial consequence that every retailer takes a smaller share but of a vibrant and growing traffic. “All for one, and One for All!” is the only viable mind-set for today’s retail destinations.
Of course, healthy competition is not about clones but about complementary and diverse propositions within any product category and across all categories. The breadth of that diversity is an essential strategic decision for any retail destination based on the demographics of its population and the potential footfall of its location and logistics.
To fight as a distinct but popular proposition for one customer group or to offer a variety of destinations to a variety of customer groups will define the town not only in terms of its commercial success but also its social and cultural atmosphere and environment. In deed the physical fabric, the social calendar, the heart of the town personality itself fall naturally, along with its retail proposition, from an agreed and collaborative acceptance of “who you all are”
“Who is the real competitor?”
Of course, none other than alternative retail and social destinations vying for the patronage, the time and the money of the transient customer.
In which case “Who is the real enemy?”
The real enemies at the door of today’s retail destinations are complacency, internal division, a lack of strategic direction, a void in commercial analysis, a timid and passionless embodiment of local identity, and a lack of professional delivery.
Just as many of the “enemies to change” are self-inflicted, then potentially and fortunately the silver lining for high streets, town centres and retail destinations is also about self-determination and community consensus and collaboration.
The “Choice” to survive, flourish or fail is complex, and of course to a varying degree reliant of wider issues, however the key to taking the first step to retail renaissance is “knowing what to do?”
The future is all about making the right choices, the informed choices…together.
What is the correct commercial proposition for you as a retail and social destination?
What combination of retail stores, sizes, categories, price-points and tastes do you need?
Let VM-unleashed help you realise your new horizons…”Shopportunities” is a retail location strategic process that not only benchmarks destinations from a quantitative perspective such as number and type of shops but also from a qualitative viewpoint defining the taste, lifestyle positions and emotional propositions of both individual retailers and for a destination as a whole.
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