Monthly Archives: December 2019

Can collaborative retail save our high streets? Consumers urge independent retailers to merge to survive

PCR Blog actual

New research from Gekko has revealed that 73% of UK consumers think independent retailers should collaborate.

The ‘Collaborative Retail’ report features comments from over 2,000 UK adults, and has found that many believe independent retailers should “think creatively and work together” to avoid going to the wall and revitalise beleaguered high streets.

In the report, nearly three quarters said they think independent retailers should collaborate to come up with innovate ideas like sharing shop space and marketing costs, cutting down on their individual overheads. Most popular ideas for shop collaborations included independent shoe and clothing retailers, favoured by 71% of consumers, followed by book shops and cafes 68% and bakeries and greengrocers 65%.

Top reasons given by consumers for suggesting collaborations are supporting the high street (64%), supporting local businesses (63%), choice (56%), convenience (52%) and an enhanced shopping experience (48%).

Alongside collaborations, nearly 90% of consumers thought it was important large national retail brands roll out their new store designs and concepts to regions other than just the major high street destinations. Over 50% said they would visit their local high street more if brands did this.

Nearly three quarters (70%) of consumers said they were concerned about the impact of online sales on the high street and the local economy, but felt that the high street still had a major role to play with benefits such as ‘try before you buy’ (62%), browsing and leisure (55%), buy and takeaway (51%) and the opportunity to visit multiple shops (40%).

“We cannot just sit back and watch our high streets continue to degrade. Our research clearly shows that UK consumers are worried about the future of the high street and the impact its demise will have on their communities. They would love to see more independent retail collaborations and believe this is a very exciting way to inject life back into the high street and it does make sense,” commented Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko.

“However, this approach to retail requires new and imaginative ideas from Government that support the legal and financial infrastructure of such initiatives. Our high streets do have a lot to offer so Government and retailers need to work together to make it an enticing proposition and lure people back.”

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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It’s not just retail; it’s M&S retail

The Drum MS Blog

The UK is historically a nation of shoppers, which more often than not puts it in the top five markets for many global brands. Right now, however the economy is tough, and retail is hurting.

With so many retail brand names disappearing from the high street, reducing choice and damaging local communities or shopping districts, the retailers that remain are struggling to survive.

Marks and Spencer, founded in 1884, is a brand unique to the UK, with no global footprint. It serves a niche market of 63 million residents, many of whom have lived with it their entire life. But it’s been well documented that the chain has struggled to connect with a younger audience, and by trying to do so has started to lose its appeal to its core audience.

By trying to be something for everyone, it’s starting to mean nothing to anyone.

One of the main issues with M&S is the fact that it’s a brand with no subsidiaries, and it doesn’t sell any third party products across fashion, homeware, and furniture, with only a few exceptions in the cosmetic and food categories. That makes it very different to some of the brands it competes with, like H&M Group – who have a broad global audience to speak to across 62 counties. Its many brands include H&M, H&M Home, Arket, COS, Weekend, Cheap Monday, Monki, and Other Stories. With approximately 4,500 doors and eight clearly defined brands, H&M Group meets the needs of so many generations and demographics in a way that M&S can’t.

A public breakup

With falling sales and decline across all categories except food which registered like-for-like sales uplift 0.9% with its latest half year results, is there any chance for M&S to refresh its brand to appeal to the many in a progressive nation like the UK?

I don’t think so: it’s almost like an “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of breakup.

The change has already begun. 47 stores have disappeared and the retailer is still looking to close 100 stores by 2022, but with 1,035 UK stores, that still leaves a lot of square footage. The current UK turnover figures of £9.4bn demonstrate that the brand isn’t doing too badly against others who are teetering on the brink of collapse, but it’s losing its focus by desperately chasing growth which isn’t there and, in the process, stifling creativity.

So forget the gimmicks like the M&S Little Shop (those collectable mini grocery items made from non-biodegradable material). This was a bit of a PR disaster, especially when you consider that for many the ethics of fast retail are a major concern. Shoppers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact certain industries make with fashion, for example, accounting for around 10% of total carbon emissions and a significant percentage of total water consumption.

M&S do have their Plan A sustainability programme, but does it do enough to communicate it? I don’t believe so and think M&S could be speaking to so many who are keen to see a retailer change and pioneer green retail for all.

Fixing the brand

Aside from missing a trick on environmental initiatives, it also lags behind other retailers on its feelgood factor. Its in-store experience is lacking, and its approach to retail will never compliment a great advertising campaign.

But one of the simplest forms of enhanced experience starts with staff; M&S have the benefit of loyal and customer centric staff so why not make them your ambassadors to create that experience? Perhaps ditch the uniform and in the process possibly save yourself a lot of money. Dress your staff in your clothes and update it seasonally. The outlay would be less, and your team immediately become the advocates of your brand.

Collaborate with a brand and start a conversation with someone new. Find the yin to your yang and be realistic – no one really wants to wear M&S trainers! Find a complementary brand for a category or create a collection that people really want to chase and will desire.

The current model is clearly not working – but hold on, it’s still making a handsome turnover, employing 81,000 staff and achieving a profit, so what’s the problem? Are the reports self-fulfilling in that they only serve to change perceptions in the consumers mind?

Regardless, the growth for brands like M&S is limited unless they can create a seismic shift in appeal to a younger or more affluent audience which starts with the experience a consumer feels from the brand.

 

To read the full article please visit The Drum.

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Does black Friday give consumers a real bargain?

Blog

When Black Friday began to be embraced by marketers in 2013, initial efforts focused on instore, one-day only events. Since then, there are far fewer reports of hordes of shoppers breaking down doors and a greater effort to create multi-day, omnichannel campaigns.

This year was predicted to have a strong showing. The CBI reported that sales volume is expected to increase and the Centre for Retail Research expected UK shoppers to increase their spend by 3.4% compared to last year, up to £2.53bn. Initial data shows that those expectations are being met: at its busiest, Barclaycard reported seeing 1,184 transactions per second during Black Friday itself.

As part of our work at Gekko, we monitor how retailers approach and execute promotions like this to better understand and advise on the market. Ahead of Black Friday 2019 we saw that far from being a single day event almost everyone started their campaigns at the start of the week, and peaked with a push over the Black Friday weekend with limited additional discounts and promotions.

We closely monitored the Black Friday pricing strategies across eight different retailers in the UK and Ireland, recording the items and prices offered over the week before Black Friday. Across those retailers, we saw a big launch at the start of the week, an increasing number of items being put on offer as the week progressed, then a drop in availability as particular deals went out of stock.

Tracked Black Friday discounted products 2019

Blog 1

Discounting on the day itself didn’t prove to be particularly significant. Of the 2909 items we tracked that were available to purchase on Tuesday 26th and still available at the end of the week, just 321 – 11% – were cheaper on Black Friday. 10% were cheaper than on the Wednesday, and just 6% were cheaper than on the night before. In the main, shoppers looking for a bargain could have purchased at any time during the week and would have been unlikely to see their purchases cheaper later on regardless of the store.

Of those 321 tracked discounts, TVs, laptops, and mobile phones made up almost half of the additional discounting, with scattered flash pricing on hot items like AirPods making up much of the rest.

Product categories of items cheaper on Black Friday than earlier in the week, 2019

Blog 2

But don’t be fooled by the data here. Although 23% of the extra discounts were on TVs, only 16% of all TVs we tracked were cheapest on Black Friday itself. For everything else, the Black Friday price was the same price as the rest of the week. And though we saw some variation on prices for specific items from retailer to retailer throughout the week, Black Friday is so sensitive that prices were very similar if not identical as retailers ramped up their price matching.

Although we expect data released and compiled over the next week to show that online took a bigger proportion of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday spend this year, a battle on price isn’t the only option open to brands and retailers. This year we saw an increased push of AR product viewing by both Amazon and Currys PC World, and our online analysis showed brands partnering with retailers so that consumers could talk to a brand ambassador remotely. This is an attempt to mimic the experiential marketing that we have seen work so well in-store, and it’ll be fascinating to see how this develops in future.

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Will collaborative retail save our high streets?

Bitesize blog

Independent retailers should think creatively and work together to avoid going to the wall and revitalise beleaguered high streets, according to a new report ‘Collaborative Retail’ commissioned by retail marketing experts, Gekko.

In the report, which interviewed 2,000 UK adults*, nearly three quarters (73%) said they think independent retailers should collaborate to come up with innovate ideas like sharing shop space and marketing costs, cutting down on their individual overheads. Most popular ideas for shop collaborations included independent shoe and clothing retailers, favoured by 71% of consumers, followed by book shops and cafes 68% and bakeries and greengrocers 65%.

Top reasons given by consumers for suggesting collaborations are supporting the High Street 64%, supporting local businesses 63%, choice 56%, convenience 52% and an enhanced shopping experience 48%.

Alongside collaborations nearly 90% of consumers thought it was important large national retail brands roll out their new store designs and concepts to regions other than just the major high street destinations. Over fifty per cent (56%) said they would visit their local high street more if brands did this.

Nearly three quarters (70%) of consumers said they were concerned about the impact of online sales on the High Street and the local economy, but felt that the high street still had a major role to play with benefits such as ‘try before you buy’ 62%, browsing and leisure 55%, buy and takeaway 51% and the opportunity to visit multiple shops 40%.

Daniel Todaro, Managing Director of Gekko, comments: “We cannot just sit back and watch our high streets continue to degrade. Our research clearly shows that UK consumers are worried about the future of the high street and the impact its demise will have on their communities. They would love to see more independent retail collaborations and believe this is a very exciting way to inject life back into the high street and it does make sense.  However, this approach to retail requires new and imaginative ideas from Government that support the legal and financial infrastructure of such initiatives. Our high streets do have a lot to offer so Government and retailers need to work together to make it an enticing proposition and lure people back.”

To read the full article please visit IPM Bitesize.

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