Reading recent retail dossiers for 2017, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's all doom and gloom for inner towns and cities over the foreseeable future;
- Lloyds Banking Group announced 200 retail closures over the year, this includes Lloyds Bank, RBS and Natwest
- Regulators continue to force legislation on curtailing betting shops as a nationwide crackdown on gambling in disadvantaged, poor socio-economically performing territories
- Retail discounters and independent imitations of pound shops continuing to rise, piggybacking on established distributor networks and surplus imported goods, procured on the cheap from predominantly South East Asia
- Charity shops, reaping rewards of subsidised rates continuing to commandeer vacant units to push forward second-hand or pawned goods
- Increase in franchise opportunities for a mobile concentration of goods and services, ranging across a spectrum of industries from homecare and DIY to automobile - slashing operational costs without the tie of a physical location
Sounds pretty bad
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is dedicated to sourcing and nurturing channels that extract greater value for the end consumer and suppliers as a whole to forge a happy and fruitful commerce end game within the relationship between retail, planning and hospitality - regrettably however this has delivered little or no change to a domain that the LocalDataCompany can see in black and white heading backwards.
While there is much on the subject of developing, customer centric, 360 degree customer experiences that are more than just the product (I don't know, the product seems vital and key, ergo Apple) there is little in the way of following through on this.
At Aulter, we believe the wrong approach is being undertaken.
Why try and fix what's broken, the convenience of searching and purchasing goods via Amazon is well documented, compounded by the fact their market share now equates to more than the entirety of the competitive landscape combined. You can't beat convenience and accessibility, given that Amazon now plans an assault on the automobile industry... dealerships, spare parts and even garages should be concerned. Amazon has decimated the retail landscape because purchasing toolkits, bedsheets, kitchenware, cleaning materials and even the same groceries you pick up every week is not an enticing experience; it's a chore, a chore they've processed, automated and eliminated down to one click. Paradise.
So what's next...
There are plentiful experiences in our lives that are also asynchronously tied to retail; one of the biggest that is going to continue to evolve at an exponential pace is video gaming. A multi-billion industry (not yet dominated by Amazon) that is built on experience and enjoyment; infamous brands such as Electronic Arts that in partnership with sporting governing bodies and contractual rights holders, distribute some of the most popular titles that marry up with the world of live sports. FIFA 17, NFL Madden, NHL, UFC, NBA Live, Sims and hundreds of other titles, coupled with a dynamic range of merchandise and you immediately have a very powerful retail offering with instant global appeal. Same applies to other gaming developers, such as UbiSoft, SuperCell and so on...
If Disney can open successfully trading stores, what's stopping Netflix?
If YouTube can glean billions of eyeballs and launch careers across a spectrum of interests, can they source revenue from an alternative means other than basic Ad dollars? Can they force through an alternate offering in the physical landscape that mirrors and supplements what's available through your phone, tablet or TV?
And with the advent of VR and AR on the horizon for gaming and entertainment, the industry is ripe to capitalise on merchandise sales as a backbone in supplementary growth and consumer advocation for their brands and market positioning.
There are close to 50 million Playstation 4's that have been sold globally, Netflix recently announced 100M paying subscribers - not enormous numbers but certainly showcases the room for growth that can be jumpstarted with some truly entertaining, retail experiences as a fulcrum to acquiring an even larger customer base.
And giving some much needed stimulation to our highstreets and inner city shopping plazas.
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