Gathering momentum

Opinion John Stanley

Independent retailers should adapt to the changing marketplace to be stronger and more successful

In January I organised a gathering of leading independent retailers from ten countries in Paris, France. The objective was to develop a think tank where we could openly share ideas about the future of retailing at an independent level and how we could develop individual businesses.

Delegates came from Australasia, the Americas and Europe and were prepared for an open discussion on a range of opportunities that will evolve in the market place over the coming few years.

The subjects covered the opportunities of growth with the millennial consumer, sustainability, customer engagement, marketing concepts, new benchmarking techniques and social media – amongst many of the ideas.

The development of online retailing and the growing dominance of Amazon as a retailer were discussed and the opportunities this would provide the independent retailer.

It is inevitable that retailing is going to change dramatically over the next few years and that online shopping is part of the future mix. This also provides a threat and an opportunity for independent retailers.

It is exceptionally difficult to compete on a ‘level playing field’ with companies that are adopting the ‘Amazon’ model and independent retailers should not try to.

Consumers will continue to shop with local independent retailers that engage them and provide an experience and this was discussed in some depth by the participants.


You may not be aware of this term, but all agree it is a term we need to get used to and develop in our businesses. BOPUS is an abbreviation for, “Buy Online Pick Up In-store”.

The future independent retailer needs to consider the offer to the consumer and the offer that provides the best value to both the consumer and the retailer. Consumers will start their shopping experience online using their smart phone. They will place an order online. The casual food retail sector has already grasped the opportunity using BOPUS techniques.

At the same time we know that if we can get them in store and we engage them and provide an experience, they will remain loyal and our average sale will increase.

Put both these experiences together and you could have the winning formulae for moving forward.

Imagine the journey

The consumer sits at home and places an order with your business. You and they agree on a pick up time and they come to your store, this gives your team an opportunity to be ‘day makers’ with the consumer and engage with them on a one to one level. Knowing the customer they can also offer extra personalised ‘Add on’s’ and discuss what events are being organised in store they would be interested in.

Many pundits are suggesting that the number of small retailers in the market place will reduce by 25% by 2020. Those that remain will be stronger and more successful, they will have grasped the opportunities and understand the value of the smart phone on the customers journey.

By: John Stanley