23 May 2024, 03:13
By Nick Davison Feb 05, 2016

A consumer-driven approach

With Spring Fair kicking off this Sunday, portfolio director Nick Davison explains how retailers can extend their customer reach …

Retailing has never been more competitive, and everyone is searching for ways to stay ahead of the game, through savvy marketing and PR solutions, the latest technology and brilliant creative merchandising.

We are increasingly seeing that today’s most successful independent retailers have learnt that to win new customers – or sell more to existing ones – it is vital to add new ranges, products, promotional events or services.

Thinking out of the box when extending their offering can help independents build business in unexpected ways, strengthen customer loyalty and provide real points of difference from competitors.

It sounds obvious from a business perspective, but it’s surprising how many retailers don’t really understand the potential of their local consumer base. Some of the most inspirational and successful independents I know of are constantly evolving and making sure they always have something new and interesting to offer.

There are different ways of going about this. For example, the content theatres at Spring Fair and social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest can yield invaluable insights about trends that can be adapted to suit a local consumer base. Retailers who may not have a prime spot on the high street can encourage footfall by holding promotional events and advertising them locally, through community Facebook pages and smart signage.

“Never before in our industry has the consumer been more knowledgeable, with expectations as high as they are today”

When it comes to the actual merchandise, we’re seeing more and more retailers moving out of their traditional areas of expertise and charting new territory. Oliver Bonas – a recipient of Spring Fair’s Buyers Power List Award – has blazed a trail in this area, mixing up clothing and fashion accessories with homewares in key locations, at the same time as more and more retailers get to grips with the fact that modern consumers want all-round lifestyle solutions.

Today’s consumers also want multichannel retailing. The latest gadgets like iPhones and tablets are not just status symbols, they are frequently the primary means by which people organise their lives. A busy professional wants to gather news and browse products on their mobile phone during their morning or evening train commute, to compare prices in store, click and collect their orders and make the most of special offers.

Never before in our industry has the consumer been more knowledgeable, with expectations as high as they are today.

The retailers that can fulfil the consumer desire for instant (usually online) gratification so often wins the day, although I also maintain that fantastic in-store customer service is very hard to beat when it comes to building loyalty. Independents should aim to be essential destinations and trusted providers for the shoppers of today.

Nick Davison is the portfolio director of Spring Fair, Europe’s largest home and gift trade fair, which next takes place at the Birmingham NEC from 7-11th February.

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