Metal shop fittings and retail display equipment
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Are you retail-ready for 2018? Don’t overlook these opportunities

At Dymond Shop Fittings we specialise in creating bespoke metal shop fittings and well-designed retail displays for shopfitters, retail designers and store owners – so we have a substantial interest in the future prospects for retailers with a physical presence.  With that in mind we take a look ahead at some of the trends we see shaping the independent retail sector in 2018.

Don’t be fooled by the doom mongers

It cannot be denied that the gradual degradation of large and long-established retailers in the UK continues to cast a shadow over the retail sector.  For instance, big names such as BHS and Jaeger have recently disappeared from the high street and the likes of Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and New Look are closing large numbers of stores.

However, these depressing headlines can be misleading.  You might be surprised to discover that in the first month of 2018 the number of new shops that were opened far exceeded the number of shops that shut.  That’s right, in terms of total shops in the UK the number went up in January, not down, and vacancy rates dropped from 9.3 per cent in October to 8.9 per cent.

Aldi added 76 stores in 2017, bringing the total to 762 and is targeting 1,000 stores across the UK by 2022. A further 70 store openings are planned for this year.  The Co-op is planning to open 100 new stores this year.  And The Range continues to add new locations at a steady pace.

So, some bricks & mortar retailers are doing very nicely, thank you.  The sector is not in decline – but it is evolving fast.  So what do you need to know if you want to grow?

Cash in on the “cherish” trend

Some retail analysts draw a distinction between what they term “chore” shopping (buying the boring every day stuff we need, and which we run out of on a regular basis) and “cherish” shopping (buying the non-essential stuff that brings us pleasure and where the process itself is sociable and fun).

It’s a fair bet that “chore” shopping will become quicker and easier.  Players like Amazon and subscription businesses will make this part of retail easier through offerings like auto-renewals, one-tap purchases, and same-day delivery.  In other words, the “chore” or routine component of shopping will become more streamlined.  Technology is getting better at predicting our behaviour and preferences, while automation is getting smarter when it comes to delivering our bread, toilet paper or a replacement phone charger just in time. Alexa can be your personal assistant simplifying the chore of retail: “Alexa, we need more hand soap, and something eco-friendly please”.  It’s still a chore, but much less of one.

The demand for “cherish” retail, however, will be stronger than ever.  The experiential side of retail, the type of shopping that involves searching for exciting new products and socialising with others, is enjoying a surge in popularity (as we noted in our previous post).  People will still make their way to physical stores, not because they want to “buy stuff,” but because they want to get experiences that they won’t find anywhere else.  This very natural desire amongst consumers is a major driver behind a trend that cannot be denied – high street retail is becoming more vibrant and diverse.  What we are seeing is more independent stores, not fewer.  And a greater number of artisan products, making it easier than ever before for independent retailers to differentiate themselves and offer ranges that are truly unique.

The customer as product designer

The fact that consumers are placing a lot more value on the overall shopping experiences, rather than physical items or mere commodities, opens up some interesting opportunities.  One of these is the whole area of personalisation and customisation – likely to be key retail trends in 2018 and beyond.  We’re not just talking about putting someone’s name in an email subject line or letting customers put their initials on products. We’re referring to ways of enabling shoppers to build products and customise them to the very last detail.

The issue is the increasing degree to which customers are drawn towards products that either tell a story, fit comfortably with their personal lifestyle, or are unique to some degree.  If you find a way to let shoppers create and personalise their own one-off products then you tick all three boxes, making the whole experience more exciting and rewarding.

To see next-level personalisation and customisation in action check out Dresden, an eyewear retailer and eye healthcare provider. The company is revolutionising the industry by providing affordable, locally-made and sustainable eyewear.  The company takes plastic waste from Australian beaches and discarded fishing nets, then upcycles them into affordable frames. Dresden lets shoppers create their own pairs of sunglasses with a mix and match offering, enabling shoppers to combine different sizes and colours of lenses and frame parts.  The result? Shoppers can purchase eyewear that’s unique, stylish, and environmentally friendly.

McDonald’s have been exploring the Build-Your-Own-Burger concept letting customers completely customize their burgers from the base bun to the sauces that top off the burgers.  Other fast food outlets in the states, such at The Counter and Smashburger, have also been playing with these possibilities.  Brands like Nike and Adidas are looking into custom made trainers that perfectly match your foot size and shape, as well as your sense of style and colour preferences.

 Pop-up stores are not going away

Pop-up retail is another trend that’s gaining traction.  It has taken the UK by storm over the last few years, with temporary shops now proving a staple in many of the country’s busiest retail spaces.  The pop-up sector in the UK was estimated to be worth £2.3 billion about a year ago, accounting for around 0.76 per cent of total retail turnover, according to EE‘s Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy report.  Furthermore, 44 per cent of customers say they have visited a pop-up shop in the last 12 months and the industry employs 26,200 people.

These figures look to increase dramatically, given the steep hikes many retailers face under the new business rates revaluation.  Appear Here, a company that acts like an “Airbnb for retail”, allowing retail businesses to book a vacant space for short-term periods, is thriving.  It’s an attractive way for retail start-ups to test the water, but it’s also popular with online retailers who realise they need to develop a bricks-and mortar presence.

What to take away from all this?

The obvious lesson here is that retail as we know it, traditional retail, is under threat.  Rapidly developing technology, new business models and rising consumer expectations mean that retailers have to be very alert to all that’s going on, and be quick to respond.  One thing that isn’t going to change, however, is that merchandise must be displayed attractively at point of sale and that the overall shopping environment must be welcoming, stylish and exciting.

Profit from our experience

That’s where we can help.  Our bespoke metal shop fittings and well-designed retail displays can provide the flexibility, practicality and chic looks that make such a big difference.  We’re also value engineering specialists, which means we can create bespoke products that not only work effectively but which are economical to produce.  Finally, if your budget is really tight, our shop fitting systems are an economical way of achieving many of the benefits of a bespoke solution but for an even keener price.  We’re more than happy to share our retail experience and shopfitting expertise, so give us a call – the opportunities are there and we can help you seize them!

Dymond Shop Fittings

Dymond Engineering and Metal Products Ltd
Combrew Lane
Devon EX31 2ND

Tel: 01271 372662
Fax: 01271 322077

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"For more than 20 years Dymond have supplied us with innovative solutions at competitive prices, often within tight time scales."
Steve Rumsey, Railston Design

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