I find myself in a Costa Coffee at a service station; very early for a meeting again! Here I am musing on the future of the High Street. I have predicted future trends in the past although I have often found clients bemused or just thinking I am talking rubbish. Eight years ago I told a client their web site had more potential for sales and profit than any single store; I also suggested they should keep knitting as this was the new cooking and would be terrible fashionable – both are now true, if to differing degrees.
So what do customers want and how can retailers afford to give it to them?
“We want experience, fantasy and value”
“We will not desert the High Street if retailers can make it fun.”
What will this mean, less stores more experience is my prediction – its very simple.
What does experience mean?
A different thing to each retailer is the key:
- The latest cat-walk fashion at prices I can afford. Worth searching any store environment for, e.g. Primark.
- A brand committed heart and soul to a lifestyle, a patch of a store with flowery paper is not enough, e.g. Jack Wills.
- Niche retailing with real passion about the product, e.g. Games Workshop.
The list is endless, this is what customers want – happy days spent with friends roaming our High Streets.
I suggest retailers need to concentrate on one great destination store in each city not three. Each store needs to work hard to live and breath their brand. White stuff is a great example, the York store has a cinema – I might not go but I love them for providing it! It’s a great experience (with gnomes at the moment).
I know this is just one aspect of the complex mix, that creates a profitable retailer, and there are some retailers who need have units everywhere – takeaway food retailers need to be convenient, we are lazy and lack time. But experience is the future, not the white box. For designers this means working hard to develop the brand with our retail and leisure customers at a cost that is sustainable and profitable.