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‘Inflexible retailers are walking towards the edge of the cliff: Mary Portas

By Sasha Fedorenko September 20, 2019 - 10:23 am

Flexing is becoming an evolutionary instinct of retailers to stay in business. Adapting to change, embracing the newness and exploiting new opportunities are becoming the new metrics of profitability. The trading rules now go by the saying – flex or stay stagnant to be replaced.

Inflexible retailers are walking towards the edge of the cliff,” puts aptly, Mary Portas
founder and chief creative officer of Portas, the status quo of retail during a keynote conversation at FT Future of Retail 2019 – brining in examples of store closures of former retail heavyweights such as The House of Fraser and Debenhams.

The root of the issue is that retailers’ aren’t moving with the changing consumer demands. We’re still seeing retailers trading under the same businesses models, adopted 20 years, while the shopper expectations are moving at a faster pace. Profitability guidelines such as how can we sell more and quicker? are no longer the metrics to guarantee sales. While some retailers operating under such business models may sustain for some time but the changing consumer demands will either force them to embrace the change or force them out of the business.

The world has changed. We see a cultural shift. The consciousness of the consumer is beginning to change. Caring about the brands and sharing their value is the future of ecommerce. Retailers should be measuring footfall, social media interactions – those are the new metrics.

The developing retail landscape is dictating new a trading model. It sees progressive retailers adopting a customer-centric strategy which puts the shopper at the heart of their operations. That is, retailers are flexing to deliver upon shoppers wants needs and wishes, raising a question of what do consumers really want out of the customer experience?

“People are craving community and connectivity“, says Mary. Consumers are drawing to retailers that can offer them an experience beyond the digital shelves as they seek to be educated, inspired and entertained by the retailer of their choice in exchange for their loyalty. Mary believes that the high street can serve the role in solidifying the customer-seller relationship, supporting retailers’ efforts in introducing themselves to new shoppers, connecting on an emotional level with existing clients and strengthen loyalty. “Biologically, we are wired to connect, touch and feel. The role of the high street is the social connection.”

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