The Last Thing The World Needs Is Another Ordinary Shop!

“If you’ve ever been shopping, you think you know what it takes to run a shop.” Peter Ritchie said this to me once when we were discussing the commonly held outsiders view of retail and how its apparent transparency and exposure seem to demystify it to all but those who truly understand what it takes to be successful.

In my opinion retail is the most pure form of commerce and the most stimulating and rewarding way there is to earn a living. But easy it isn’t. While it relies on a known set of fundamental drivers, the energy, creativity and adaptability it requires are beyond those mortals without the tenacity to sustain it. Which is why we see so many retailers come and go.

Usually the retailers who don’t last are nothing more or less than a replication of something else. We can do that. We can do that cheaper. We can do that with a little twist.

The problem with this approach is that it over-looks one huge issue. It’s not about the shopkeeper. It’s about the customer. It’s not about supply. It’s about demand.

Most shopping is habitual and entrenched. Time is the critical determinant of consideration. Capturing imagination and creating magnetism determine foot-traffic. Conversion and repeat purchase are determined by ability to be perceived to add-value to the customer’s lives.

Research study after research study tells the same story. Customers perceive that have hundreds of doorways but little real choice. In other words, the contemporary shopping context is littered with lowest common denominator sameness and me-too at a time when customers are craving for genuine, personal value-add.

The last thing the world needs is another ordinary shop.

It lowers the general context of retail, it under-values precious resources, it fails to change shopping behaviour, it inevitably lowers margins and it won’t last.

New shops should be about new ideas. New ideas that add to – not detract from – the rich tapestry of retail environments from which the customers will choose to patronise. Like any business, they require diligence in the process of creating them, implementing them and operating them.

When done without cynical opportunism everybody wins. The retailer has a strong and profitable business. The landlord has a more productive retail mix. The shopper has a better choice. The employees have a great place to work. The investors get more reliable returns.

Every need in retail is already satiated. The lines won’t be re-drawn based on need.

From here on in, every new shop needs to bring something extra-ordinary to the table.

It needs to be recognised for adding value to the customers it will serve.