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Retail: What’s Changing?

What’s changing in the retail market and how are businesses evolving to meet the demands of their customers?

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BHS was one of the many high street chains to collapse, and this hasn’t been the last. But, what changed in the retail market and how did businesses evolve to meet the demands of their customers?

The change in customer behaviour

Meeting the expectations of consumers today is a tiring job for any business owner. Customers can shop online, offline, over the phone, at work – they have the opportunity to shop wherever and whenever they want. But what comes with that is the demand for a prompt and quick service – a service that’s user friendly and which meets the exact needs of the customer and where they are at that point in the day. And the expectation of timeliness doesn’t just apply to the delivery of products, it also refers to the speed of response on social media, via email and any other forms of communication.

To meet the demands of customers, retail businesses are investing even more time than ever in pro ling their customers. What time of the day do they prefer to shop; what do our customers do at the weekend; are they tech-savvy? – these are the types of questions retail marketing experts are asking themselves every day of the week. Consumers want bespoke messages that suit their activity there and then.

The rise in collaboration

Back in April 2016, it was confirmed that Sainsbury’s won its battle to buy leading catalogue retailer, Argos. With later this year announcing it had bought Asda. But what did this mean for the supermarket giant? Working with other businesses such as Argos as well as Homebase put Sainsbury’s in the same league as other retail giants such as John Lewis and Amazon. The deflation of the food market due to budget supermarkets Lidl and Aldi, means that Sainsbury’s needs to differentiate beyond its food heritage. The collaboration with, Asda, Argos and Homebase means Sainsbury’s offers customers even more reasons to visit its stores. It can now offer multi-products across multi-channels, meeting the demands of its customers.

The appeal of independent retailers

A study conducted by the Leadership Factor found that one in five consumers were doing more of their shopping with independent shops than in the previous year. Also, about 55% of UK consumers now shop with independent retailers once a week or more frequently. These statistics vary across the country, but, in general, consumers are more likely to enjoy shopping with smaller retailers because they offer better customer service and better quality products, as well as offering something a little more unique compared to the national high street chains.

Bury St Edmunds is a town that’s thriving, with an independent business community. Mark Cordell, Chief Executive of Ourburystedmunds, the business improvement district for the town, explained “Bury St Edmunds town centre is synonymous with Independent business and vice versa. I consider the high quality independent businesses in our town as our USP and I am delighted to see that in recent months there have been a number of new ”Indies” opening up in town and in fact there are more Independent businesses in Bury Town Centre than national chains!”