They Don’t Make ’em Like That Any More

“[Sir Ken Morrison] showed us all the importance of aiming high but never forgetting the practicalities of life and the humanity of those we deal with.”

These words encapsulate the essence of great retailing, great business and great Customer Experience. Ken Morrison was an innovator – for example he built Morrisons on a model of vertical integration, directly controlling many of its food suppliers, and developed the Market Street concept of retail theatre combined with expertise directly available to the consumer.

So, Here’s My Idea for BHS

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.

Three Ways to Know Customers Better

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.

Customer Experience: Send in the Robots?

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…

Awakening the High Street – with a SPACE MAN

So my bottom line is that people are the key variable in any High Street regeneration initiative, and will ultimately determine the success of that initiative. At this point it seems appropriate to point out what happened to Tesco when it forgot that!

It’s my contention then that, the foundation of any High Street strategy or action framework – be it Portas, Grimsey, POSITIVE, a Town Toolkit or whatever – needs to be a SPACE MAN: