“[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 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.
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…
The supermarket sector is, as everybody knows, facing an identity crisis: other than discounting, the majority of players seem to have little to offer their customers. Customers’ shopping habits have changed, yes – driven in part by economic factors and partly by the supermarkets’ own proliferation of convenience stores. Yet the sector’s response is exemplified by Sainsbury’s partnership with Argos. Forgive me if I yawn! Surely the supermarkets need to look beyond technological innovation and partnerships with other brands, and explore ways to create genuinely exciting, life-enhancing experiences for their customers?