How the changing face of retail affects the independents

It is evident all around us that retail as we knew it six to ten years ago is changing. The change is insidious but unrelenting and it will affect the way we do business for ever. That means that, as always, there will be winners and there will be losers. Those that adapt and embrace the change will probably survive and flourish whereas those that are stuck to their business model and are not willing or wanting to adapt will probably die.

So what are the changes and how will they affect the independent retailer:

1. Internet – Probably the single most transformational element in our lives has been the internet. This is not going away nor is it only going to be a passing phase. This is a crescendo tidal wave and we are living akin to the shore line of a tsunami. It affects every aspect that we do as retailers: buying & selling and everything in between. One must embrace this new channel and work with it rather than ignore it or work against it.

2. Splintering of Retail – There seems to be a fragmentation of retail and there is a splitting of ways amongst small retailers and the larger ones. Not only is this fragmentation going on but now there is whole new industries emerging with mobile ‘shops’: retail shows, one man bands, market stalls etc, etc. They sap buying power from customers and they divert attention from the High Street.

3. Raison d’Etre – Nowadays retailers need to have a solid and viable raison d’etre. No longer is it feasible just ‘setting up a shop’. That shop needs to be a distinctive point of difference and there needs to be a skill or service which set it apart from all other shops. That service will be the driver for generating footfall.

There are more reasons why setting a business should be a careful consideration but by no means something that should fill us with terror. As we grab these opportunities we should let the water ebb and flow to the trends in the market place.

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