The changing face of recruitment in retail
Napoleon once famously said that ‘Britain is a nation of shopkeepers’ but with testing times in the retail sector, is this still true?
Since the financial crisis of 2008, more than 11,000 major high street chains have gone bust with brands such as Toys R Us and Maplins disappearing completely from the high street.
Other retailers are feeling the pinch too. Stores up and down the country are closing, resulting in 21,000 job losses alone in the first quarter of 2018.
The outlook for the rest of the year isn’t looking any better, either.
- Marks & Spencers are planning to close 100 stores by 2022
- 5300 jobs are at risk across 335 Poundworld stores
- 60 New Look stores are being closed, leading to a maximum of 980 redundancies
- 100 Carphone Warehouse stores are set to close this year
The list goes on, painting a pretty grim picture for the future of the British high street.
What is contributing to these closures?
As a nation, we are now spending less money as wage growth has failed to keep up with the inflation of living costs, forcing people to spend their money more wisely. Consumers in the UK now have emptier pockets and are only spending their money on essential products and services. Furthermore, because many people are finding it difficult to get onto the property ladder, especially young people, more and more people are renting short-term spaces and, as a result, are less likely to commit to buying household items or vast amounts of clothes.
With the continued rise of the internet and smartphones, modern consumers can now shop whenever and wherever they want. Consumers no longer have to make the journey into town, pay for an extortionate parking space and trudge up and down shop aisles to get what they want, they can simply search and buy on their phone in a matter of minutes. E-Commerce stores, as a result, now account for a massive part of the retail pie, taking a big slice of consumer expenditure away from traditional brick and mortar stores. It has led to many organisations needing a bigger, online presence, with many stores such as Marks & Spencers and Next now taking a big part of their sales online to remain relevant to modern consumers.
Other factors have contributed too, such as high rent, bad weather, and a change in consumer trends, leading to many retailers having to look at restructuring their business models which can, unfortunately, lead to store closures and staff redundancies.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, organisations such as Zara, Aldi, JD Sports and Primark are riding the storm and are reporting good profits and are even expanding. These brands are doing well as they are connecting with the public and are giving them what they want.
Instead of making excuses for why their stores are failing, should a retailer, instead, be concentrating on how to optimise their brand and appeal to their target market, especially if they are wanting to remain relevant to their customers in 2018 and beyond?
Meeting Customer Needs
With increased competition, retail organisations are now having to stand out and offer a more personalised service to their customers if they are to stand a chance of remaining open.
A retailer, therefore, has to make sure that they are offering a meaningful and memorable experience throughout each customer touch point. By delivering a fantastic experience and by connecting with a customer and understanding what they want, a retailer can build a better customer relationship to increase brand loyalty and maximise the chances of future sales.
Brands with a strong ability to understand its customers are 104% more likely to convert a customer, compared to other brands. Look at Zara, their success comes down to empowering its in-store employees and managers to be particularly sensitive to a customer’s wants and needs and, as a result, has been able to meet customer’s expectations. Through listening to their customer base, Zara has been able to build a strong brand that has helped them to become a profitable organisation that continues to open stores on the high street.
If a store goes above and beyond with its customer service, a customer is more likely to feel valued and appreciated, not only will this increase the chances of them making a purchase but it will make them more likely to become a returning customer and possibly even a brand advocate.
Exceptional customer service is therefore key if Britain wants to keep up with this stereotype of being a nation of shopkeepers.
Click here to read the next part of this series to find out about customer service and what it means for recruitment