In this article, City AM’s deputy editor Julian Harris argues that one of the UK High Street’s most iconic retailers needs radical surgery: perhaps even splitting its…… Read more “Marks & Spencer : Is it time to split the retailer in two? “
My newsletter this month was updated – literally a “Stop Press” moment – to reflect the incredible story of Leicester City’s achievement in winning the English Premier League. Pretty magnanimous of me, I feel, as a Spurs fan for most of my life!
Leicester’s story, and as importantly, their brand of lightning-fast, counter-attacking football, have captured the nation’s imagination, and in doing so, perfectly reflect the attributes of a POSITIVE Customer Experience…
So what is my idea for BHS?
Well, the clue’s in the name: British Home Stores. Yes, it sounds a bit old-fashioned; however that’s because BHS has done little to shift our perception of a brand stuck in the 1970s, or the 1980s at best.
My starting point is that “British Home Stores” could be a blank canvas for a new conceptBritish Retail in department store retailing – a store that literally offers the best British products for your home. Here I agree with Mary Portas when she offers a vision of a market place, showcasing “young British makers or designers” alongside cool fashion at keen prices.
Since Harry Gordon Selfridge opened his Oxford Street emporium in 1909, his simple philosophy “Excite the mind, and the hand will reach for the pocket” has guided successful department stores, including the group that bears his name.
To those that are struggling, the question is: “What are you doing to excite the minds – of your Customers, and of your Team?”
I’ve just read an interesting article about how Top Shop is using technology to redesign its stores based on customers’ use of smartphones. Apparently “the system will allow retailers, shopping centres and other venues to gain easier access to customer movement data and to more effectively monetise their assets”. OK – so that’s one way to know Customers better: as some supermarket chains are also doing, you can use technology to monitor their movements, and what, and when, they buy. Then you can realign your store accordingly.
The problem with that approach, is that you will learn what they buy, but not why they buy.
In a week when a new survey suggests that Sales and Retail Assistants are “95% likely” to be replaced by robots, I’d suggest that whilst technology has its place in facilitating the Customer Experience, there is (or should be) no substitute for human interaction. My vision for what that interaction should look like is displayed on the homepage of my website: “The wave of enthusiasm from a team of people in love with what they do, who have created a sensational stage for their product, and who can’t wait to attend to every customer desire as they facilitate the ultimate buying experience”
Whilst retailers scratch their heads as they contemplate the impact of the new National Living Wage, and struggle to justify the running costs across their sprawling property portfolios, the answer is staring them in the face…