Last week, Finito World published a report on high numbers of retail insolvencies in the UK, which showed the most affected areas. Norwich and Newcastle upon Tyne saw the highest number of retail businesses shut down, and high streets across the UK have suffered greatly. Now, CEO Karl Baxter of Wholesale Clearance UK shares his strategies for keeping the high street alive.
Data from Statista reveals that 75% of people bought primarily online throughout 2021, which is a jump from the previous level of about 40%. Clearly, online retail options have been essential to the survival of high street companies throughout Covid-19, but they are not the only way to keep the doors open.
Baxter suggests that community involvement is essential to fostering customer loyalty and getting some much-needed foot traffic in empty stores. Many shoppers will already be aware of the need to support their local businesses throughout the pandemic in order for these businesses to survive. For those who need a bit more incentive, Baxter suggests offering a unique customer experience, as well as special promotions similar to the 2020 ‘Shop Local Week’, and the British Independent Retailer’s Association’s ‘#shoplocal’ campaign.
Another way to boost local business is through social media engagement. Baxter points out that, while large companies can run national ad campaigns, local businesses have a deeper understanding of their customer base which allows for more targeted advertisements which reflect the community. Research from Smart Insights shows that 74% of shoppers use social media to guide their purchasing decisions. People generally trust their neighbours, so good interactions on Instagram and Facebook. or even a mention on Nextdoor from a satisfied customer can help get people in the door.
Despite the removal of restrictions, many shoppers are still not comfortable with in-person retail, which is completely understandable. Therefore, while Baxter maintains that in-person shoppers should remain a top priority, a digital presence is essential to staying afloat. Click and collect services and same day delivery can beat the larger companies in terms of how quickly customers can receive their goods. This can another practical reason to shop local, which is powerful when coupled with the awareness that supporting small businesses is a noble cause.
Baxter also suggests extending your company’s personal brand to the website. Shoppers will no doubt be craving an experience different from the bland, general sites of the online retail giants, so offering a personal experience even online can help to build and maintain a customer base.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way that people shop, and it doesn’t look like these changes are going anywhere. To survive, businesses must adapt, and inventive, entrepreneurial small businesses are up to the task.