News | 9/07/2021

Take 5 with Fox&Bear – The heart of the high street is still beating!

Posted by Lisa Seymour

It comes as no surprise that the last year has had a huge impact on our economy and subsequently our UK high-street shopping experience. However, even prior to this pandemic, we were witnessing a decline in high-street shopping, saying surprising goodbyes to some very well-established household names.

So, what does this mean for those businesses still with bricks and mortar presence? From larger fashion retail brands to small independent businesses and even hospitality, what does it take to keep your businesses’ physical presence on the high street?

The future of shopping is said to be taking a one-way ticket to digitalisation – we do not agree.

We see the rise of digital communication as another set of channels, that used in the right way, can help your business attract wider audiences and encourage deeper and more meaningful engagement, both in online settings and on the high street itself.

UK Shoppers want the best of both worlds – don’t we all?

Studies from 2019 show that 64% of UK shoppers preferred high-street shopping to shopping online (34%). Although these figures were produced ahead of the pandemic they demonstrate a clear desire to engage in a physical, tangible, shopping experience.

The pandemic and the subsequent fall-out effect, however, is nothing to brush over. In many ways, the survival of high-street brands, big and small, has relied on individual businesses ability to integrate products and services to a digitally-driven platform.

The high street in a post-covid climate

Now comes the next challenge. With the imposed limitations of in-person experiences finally being lifted, the very same sink-or-swim attitude will determine the survival of a business, based on the successful integration of product and service promotion in a post-covid climate.

Customers will have developed behavioural changes alongside the shift in their wants, needs and expectations. This rapid change surrounds an increased need for safety and an amplified requirement for an experience that offers convenience, choice, and contactless services seamlessly across both physical and digital estates.

The businesses that have survived and will continue to thrive, are those that have recognised the many benefits of taking on a digital transformation and acknowledge that online tools can continue to benefit their business and customer engagement.

Some of the many benefits of online integration include increased social media engagement, omnichannel customer experience and service/product delivery innovation.

Re-purposing the high-street

You, the people on the frontline of retail are at the heart of the high street. With 70% of retail remaining in the high-street, it comes as no surprise that the human connections we crave are the very things that make our high-street shopping experience enjoyable.

The buzz of a busy building, the personalised process of picking something off the rack with the help of a customer assistant and the entire social-first structure of a shopping day out is not just a must-do chore, but an overall enjoyable experience for most.

Online has been building for some time, but the ones who will survive and thrive in retail are those that have embraced e-commerce opportunities.

What we recommend – How to get started

Using your digital channels to drive customers new and old to your high-street location is a great way to boost sales and enrich the customer experience. We have created a list of four things you can do to re-engage audiences in your high-street spot.

Optimise your social channels – Engage your audience not just in your products and services but the overall in-house experience of your physical shopfront. Walkthrough videos, in-store interviews and meet the team pieces will all engage your customers in the overall experience and entice them to want to see it in person.

E-commerce experience – Ensure that any e-commerce experience you have created is streamlined with your brand and the same valuable service you provide to in-store customers. Creating and maintaining a space your customers feel valued in is imperative to the success of your high-street location. Creating channels for in-store pickups or highlighting in-store availability will be a valuable tool to driving in-person purchases.

Personalised emails – Our very own Managing Director, James Dempster, loves a quote – and this one, in particular, is one of the original guiding principles of digital marketing ‘it’s so nice of them to have thought of me’. Let your customers know you’re back open and ready to welcome them in-store with a smile (albeit behind the mask). Making your customers feel special and reassuring them of their value to your brand is important for physical presence.

In-store events – Although hosting events in this climate is difficult, it is not impossible, and at a time where events are limited, holding one is a massive USP. Attracting a number of customers to your high-street location with a small event or giveaway will really boost your brand awareness and reputation. With the right preparation and PR coverage, you’ll have a full house in no time.

How we can help

To survive on the high street (in addition to embracing digital transformation), we predict that businesses will need to push forward an experience-driven process. Focusing on all the elements that make an in-person shopping experience special. Retailers, restaurants and service suppliers alike will need to work together to ensure that there is a full day experience available to their customers that both utilises their brand USPs and keeps customers engaged outside of the growing e-commerce culture.

At Fox&Bear, we are built on foundations of trust, compassion, and empathy. Our personalised approach allows us to tell your story, backed by data. As experts in retail, we acknowledge pro-active and re-active engagement across a number of platforms to help develop and establish your brand in an online and in-person climate.

Get in touch to discuss what we can do for you and your business.

Follow us on socials… find out more about our team of industry experts and let us know how you’re getting on with your high-street shopping experience and digital transitions.