Traffic is the only thing that matters when it comes to creating successful and profitable retail destinations. It is the lifeblood that pumps money into the local community, creates vibrancy and confidence and attracts new and successful additional retailers to tempt yet more visitors into what rapidly becomes a positive traffic snowball.
This traffic does not happen by chance or by magic but is a result of a retail destination working very hard to deliver 3 essential attributes. Those 3 attributes can be defined as functionality, attraction and life.
The functionality of a town delivers ease-of-shop for the visitor and when delivered to perfection generates that “all important” trust in the visitor. Trust is difficult to earn and easy to lose but worth its weight in retail gold for shopping destinations.
Secondly, the attraction of a town translates into the enjoyment which it gives the visitor and over time will evolve into a form of 2-way friendship and interaction between a location and the people it welcomes.
Finally life must be injected into any town or retail destination to generate dynamic excitement. This proactive energy translates into location leadership which becomes appreciated and respected by the potential visitor and shopper.
1. Functionality – ease-of-shop – trust
2. Attraction – enjoyment – friendship
3. Life – excitement – leadership
So what must a town leverage to create functionality? Priorities will be different however the usual suspects for improvement include poor access & traffic congestion, unreliable public transport, insufficient parking, unfair parking charges, aggressive parking enforcement, lack of safety & security, anti-social behaviour and inconvenient opening hours.
Improve these important issues and remove the reasons for grumbling and complaints. Equally be aware of scapegoats. Whilst functional problems can have negative repurcussions for traffic and footfall don’t be blinded to the wider issues of perhaps simply not having a good enough retail proposition for the customer. Retailers and destination owners alike, be honest, move on and improve the ease-of-shop for your visitors.
So to attraction, enjoyment and becoming the customer’s friend. Leverage all the advantages and features that your location has and develop genuine reasons why the customer should visit you.
The most common facets include a history and heritage that is unique and distinctive and has helped to mould your town’s personality. Equally the present may be the attraction where the environment, location and architecture may provide an air of relaxation or even tranquillity to the weary retail traveller.
Sporting, cultural and creative links and liaisons may also be an opportunity to create a relationship with your catchment customer from literary fayres, art galleries and festivals, to sailing regattas and rugby tournaments – from highland games the lowland leisure activities.
And finally never overlook the charm and charisma of your resident population, the potential energy and kinetic activity that can create a unique atmosphere literally full of life.
Despite what might appear to be a grey landscape with the sun perpetually setting on an unforgiving horizon there will be reasons for the customer to come. Open up the undeniable secrets of your situation, be proud and communicate.
Whatever you discover, bring it constantly to life for your visitor, create excitement around your offer and show leadership. Never be passive and apologetic about what you have to offer but be endlessly proud and proactive.
This is the life & excitement that needs to be created as the third essential attribute for any destination and must come from a collaborative recognition that time is now continuous. As retailers we have moved from 2 seasons to 365 days a year, as organisations we have moved from 5 to 7 days a week and as customers we have evolved into 24/7 social animals who demand information and interaction continuously.
A retail & marketing calendar should be produced and then delivered by an integrated team including marketing, retailers, planners, BIDs, councillors and important local organisations and creative and operational resources. As a team they must consider and create initiatives that continuously bring the destination proposition to life, constantly communicate benefits, drive retailer product propositions, maximise seasonal events, link with periodic festivals, celebrate regional and local traditions and develop monthly, weekly and daily dynamics.
Destination competition has become a fight for survival. Destinations need to excel in functionality, attraction and injecting life. Destinations need to develop trust, friendship and leadership with their potential visitors.
With these attributes retail destinations can both compete with destinations of greater scale but who lack the enjoyment and excitement, whilst also remaining ahead of destinations of similar retail scale. Now is not the time for complacency in the battle for footfall.
As a destination, how do you score on functionality, attraction & life?
Do you command trust, build friendships and develop leadership with your catchment populations?
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 the 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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”One Shop at a Time!”” is a practical support service for individual and groups of retailers to develop them as best practice, commercially successful retailers through the introduction of correct processes and principles across essential functions, with ongoing support and training to maintain the highest commercial standards.
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