According to the media the high street is on its last legs. It is slowly shutting down and migrating to retail parks or moving online with some well-known retailers in liquidation.
Personally I think the High Street as we know it is in a revival stage. It is being born again into a different form of high street which is more interactive.
The shops that are closing are those that are not bucking the trend and integrating modern technology and means of creating interest.
Everyone loves a small independent shop, somewhere we think we have personally found and is a treasure in our community, something that other places do not have. So how can we ensure the small independent thrives on its local and loyal customers?
Here I suggest some easy initiatives to improve your retail setting:
1. Think about how you engage with your customers, do you rely on face to face, one on one consultations? There are more ways to interact try large screens with relevant content or interactive displays. Make the customers feel like they are making their own decisions when shopping but send messages via media, e.g.: a clothing retailer can perhaps show their collection on a large screen in a mix and match fashion, giving the customer style tips and ideas
2. Introduce the Loyalty Card. It is an old favourite but everyone likes a bargain. Base rewards on purchases or recommendations. Awards do not have to be monetary but can be event invitations or discounts.
3. Offer free Wi-Fi! Everyone loves something for free and Wi-Fi is a great means for gathering people together. Allow customers to have the Wi-Fi code (perhaps your shop name), this works well for cafe's, bars, social gathering areas.
4. Use in-store technology! Allow people to scan products to count spend or perhaps discounts. It means they can interact and adds a bit of novelty to the shopping experience. You can even offer scanners which hold information on the ingredients, health benefits etc. of some food produce. This would also work for the cosmetics sector.
5. Embrace events and open days! React to local interests and needs. Perhaps everyone comments on how much they like your smoothies, how stylish you look, how peaceful the shop it.... set up evening events that are free and draw people to your store. E.g. A two hour smoothie making course, a 'your style for your age event' and so on, and of course some freebies in the form of food and drink always go down well.
Do not be afraid to think outside the traditional retail activities and make a new form of high street experience.