You Must Deliver Newness and Surprise

You Must Deliver Newness and Surprise

As every retailer knows, consumers of all ages are more demanding than ever. They compare your prices with competitors both on and offline, search globally for new and interesting products, and have more choice through faster, easier Internet access on mobile and other channels.

Set against this background, what can a retailer do?

For the very largest, the key priority is to go “omnichannel” where their stores and online channels work seamlessly.

But for the thousands of smaller, independent retailers, what should a strategy for success look like?

Across i2i’s retail events of Spring and Autumn Fairs, Pure London and Jewellery and Watch, we asked hundreds of retailers just that.

Leaving aside the core retail building blocks of having the right product at the right price and in the right location, one thing has emerged: winning customers today demands new additions to the offer or the services.

In other words, adding products or ranges that form a natural adjunct to your core, or by offering into new services that attract customers.

The reason why is simple: to differentiate from competitors and to surprise and even delight customers with products they didn’t know you stocked, but which feel like a logical extension of your offer.

One retailer told us: “It is vital to refresh and renew your product range.”

Another added: “There is a continuous requirement for new, different, unique and constantly refreshed stock.” Garden centres have been some of the best exponents of this for years through extending their product ranges beyond plants and into gifts, Christmas and other seasonal goods and then restaurants and coffee shops.

For clothing retailers the research shows that an increasing number of womenswear specialists have added menswear or are considering it. The reason is two-fold.

Firstly, menswear is a faster growing category than womenswear, and secondly, women remain one of the biggest purchasers of menswear, for their partners and family, so it makes a great additional spend.

In a survey of clothing retailers conducted for Pure London, 69% already stocked some menswear but were looking to increase this or for those who didn’t carry menswear, they were giving it serious consideration.

Clothing retailers are also increasingly looking at adding ranges of accessories from shoes to handbags and costume jewellery.

Meanwhile the jewellery retailers are extending their offer by adding a value range or, at the other end of the scale, an upmarket brand or collection.

As one retailer said: “You have to think about creating bespoke ranges or products for your customers who are looking for something different.”

The new retail climate means that all retailers have to “adapt or die”, as one retailer brutally put it.

Many independents are showing how they are adapting their businesses to win customers.