Retail

Innovation in the retail landscape

Retailers constantly evolve and adapt to economic changes and the last year has been no different for changes in the sector. The high street has had to deal with both the impact of lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions, and Brexit – even with these pressures there are several key innovations happening across the retail sector in the coming weeks, months and years.

Range Rationalisation

Many retailers are reviewing where they can improve efficiency, whether that’s across popular product lines like paper products, cleaners and sanitisers and dry goods such as canned vegetable, pasta and rice, or rethinking store layouts.

As part of this, retailers are undertaking range rationalisations. This enables retailers and suppliers to focus on the high-volume lines, have product available for shoppers and simplify in-store replenishment.

While this does mean that some brands and products will be missing from the shelves, it allows retailers to focus on the products consumers want while improving operating efficiency and using floor space effectively.

Click & Collect

As of 2016, it was reported that just over half of online retailers were offering a click and collect service – by 2023, the click and collect market is expected to grow by almost £10 million.

The pandemic has accelerated the rate at which new technologies have been adopted, especially contactless and self-service delivery (such as click and collect smart lockers) technology. In a time where footfall has dropped, click and collect has allowed retailers the opportunity to entice customers back to the store but safely.

Innovation in retail

As part of the adoption of click and collect across more stores, retailers will have the opportunity to review their store formats to enhance the customer experience, increase impulse purchases and streamline the staff required.

Shop in shop

As retailers rationalise their ranges and optimise the use of floor space, it allows them the opportunity to partner with other retailers to supply a shop in shop solution, with the concession brand occupying a set amount of space. There are benefits for both retailers such as shared costs, shared marketing, demand generation, speed to market and increased footfall.

The shop in shop agreement is popular among service stations and supermarkets and leads to improve the customer experience – think about book shops which have a coffee shop concession within them or service stations with a supermarket brand.

Supermarkets currently leading the way with shop in shop concessions are Sainsbury’s and Asda. Sainsbury’s acquired Argos in 2019 and swiftly brought the retailer into its supermarkets, benefitting from Argos’ strong delivery network and capabilities. Asda is currently trialling the shop in shop concept across two of its stores with a B&Q concession, with a further two to be added this year. We were proud to have supported the rollout of the trial store for B&Q in ASDA Sheffield, Drakehouse last year. Asda is also trialling a new convenience range called “Asda On the Move” at EG Group petrol stations in Ashby, Leamore and Primley in the Midlands.

Destination shopping

The future of retail is about delivering an exceptional customer experience and retailers are tapping into this by creating shopping “destinations”.

In part fuelled by the pandemic, consumers want to travel to one store for all their needs rather than having to shop in multiple stores. By successfully combining all their offerings, including click and collect and working with concession partners which complement their sector, retailers can become the store that people think of first when they want to buy something.

Innovation in retail

Checkouts

Retailers are always looking for ways to streamline the checkout process to improve the customer experience, cut waiting times and, accelerated by the pandemic, reduce social contact, and improve safety. As part of the review brought on by the pandemic, many retailers have increased the number of self-service checkouts available and changed queuing systems.

A survey by Capgemini found that 60% of adults are irritated by long checkout queues, which is why retailers are innovating their checkout processes, not just with self-service checkouts.

Most notably, M&S implemented an on-the-spot payment solution in 200 of its stores – the “Pay with Me” service enables a staff member to pick out customers who are waiting in a queue to pay for just a few items and quickly process their transaction via a handheld device. With each store operating to a maximum capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic, M&S said the service will help to free up space for more customers to enter stores.

Shrinkage

According to the ‘Retail Security in Europe. Going beyond Shrinkage’ report conducted by Crime&tech with the support of Checkpoint Systems, UK retailers are losing almost £11 billion annually. With the increase of self-service checkouts and the acceleration of checkout technology, retailers will need to review their security measures, so their annual loss figures decrease, not increase.

It is not only security measures which will need to be reviewed but inventory policies and technology, how shoplifters operate, and how countermeasures and security solutions are adopted and combined.

About Bluestones One

Over the last nine months, we have reviewed our position, identified how we want to develop our existing and new service offering and developed a three-year plan, focusing on acquisition, joint ventures and developing partnerships to help retailers deliver the above changes and innovations.

The last 12 months have been a record period for our business, and we plan to adapt and evolve further to continue on that path.

Is the high street hotting up?

Who said the high street was dead? With soaring temperatures in the UK, the public is shunning their computers and phones and heading to the Great British high street to part with their hard-earned cash.

According to the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey, 32% of retailers said that sales volumes were up in July than compared to a year ago and 13% said they had to place more orders with suppliers as a result. A combination of the unusually nice weather (does this weather even belong in the UK?) and World Cup fever have been thanked for the boost in high street sales this July, which also saw 45% of motor traders report that sales volumes were up compared to this time last year (convertible anyone?).

These figures should be seen as a huge positive for the high street, especially following the results from the survey campaign #WDYT (What do you think?) which found consumers want more and better shops available to them. The survey, which was completed by 300,000 people, found that 78% of respondents worry about the high street and 70% are concerned about shops closing – proving that the public still back “popping into town” to do their shopping.

All the positives do come with negatives though – in the same CBI Survey, retailers reported that they expect sales to slow again in August and orders to flatten out. With subdued real wage growth, households are still feeling the financial pinch and retailers are still battling with the reduced costs online retailers are able to offer.

Along with the Government’s inquiry into high streets and town centres 2030 to examine how local areas are planning for the future of their high streets, this month’s results should be seen as a step in the right direction to securing the future of the British high street.

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