"The high street could become a luxury community hub"
Yves de Contades
The High Street and small independent retailers are the hub of the community. Are we losing them?
Many local businesses help shape the identity of the area. A high street filled with unique, vibrant and colourful shops will attract more tourism and help to make the community a more popular and financially healthier area.
The big advantage of a high street shop is the personal contact with the customer and a genuine physical retail space. This can be used to attract customers with a little experiential magic.
The shop window can be made a better marketing tool by creating a bold eye-catching display that entices people to come in. Every Christmas, shops pull out all the stops, with a little imagination this can be done for every season. Stand out from the crowd and take a few risks, build fun and unusual environment that stops people in their tracks and makes them pop in.
Speed up the payment process. Everyone loves browsing but hates waiting to pay. You don’t need a till the end of the shop, you can have multiple payment methods that allow people to make impulse buys and settle quickly and spend more time discovering products.
Upsell your customers with items that fit with your ethos. A cafe can offer books for customers to read while they wait. Or rented games to go along with your coffee.
Loyalty can also be encouraged with offers and points cards. A free scarf with ten purchases will delight most fashion-conscious customers.
Create environments that go beyond just a retail space offering products. Offer events where people can meet up, wine evenings or show off local artists on your walls. Extra income can be made from the valuable interior. It also puts back into the community and running regular exhibitions will keep the space fresh and interesting.
At Christmas time in Ireland, every shop offers a chocolate or two and a hot toddy. You can get somewhat tipsy, warm and happy just by popping in for a few smalls and a couple of presents.
Offering seating areas and coffee work well, the more small brands get to know their customer, the more loyal they are.
The high street is a community, the hub of our towns and villages, closer connections should be forged. It's not all about more digital marketing, but making use of the one advantage a physical shop has a real and personal connection.
Retail has been moving away from this for a while as the aim was to push more products out faster. However online shopping has a big advantage here. Go the other way. Greet customers in a warm and friendly manner, give them a reason to hang around.
Offer incentives for people to attend evenings or weekends. Create a worthwhile experience around the act of shopping.
Many like, nay, even love shopping in person, develop that experience further and make your shop the one people want to come to.
There are many local artists, painters, photographers, tattoo artists, masseurs, confectionary artisans, brewers, bakers, cheese makers, distillers and musicians who would jump at the chance to expand their audience.
Investment from the government in our high streets could dramatically improve these vital communal areas. Architecture plays an important part in drawing people to town centres. Purpose-built areas that focus on the personal experience. Putting people first and treating them as VIP's will encourage everyone to return. Many new designers are working on projects to transform our shared spaces into luxury events that are genuinely appealing and fun to spend time in. Rather than gauntlets of painful travel and parking that need to be suffered.
A modern approach to redefining city centres as shared luxury spaces would refashion our perceptions and bring people a new style of shopping and meeting people.
These experiences would make the shop more exciting for both customers and owners and bring life back to the high street.
As customers, we love to be greeted by name in shops and restaurants and we can support them by taking the time to relax, enjoy life and shop locally. Give the screens a rest, we spend enough time on them at work.