There is a huge struggle right now for high street retailers, trying to keep themselves afloat whilst contending with higher operating costs and less footfall.

What’s required now? People say the high street is dying and it is. This is mainly because of the Internet, right?

Well, partly.

Here’s my take on the death of the high street and how small businesses need to seriously change their view on branding / marketing.

1 – Consumers prefer buying online

Using the Internet, consumers can find items online cheaper and it is far more convenient too. Quite often, consumers will go to a store to look at an item but leave and proceed to purchase it online because it will be cheaper.

This was the demise of the huge retail giant Toys R Us. Well… it was one of the things that led to their bankruptcy.

And it could be the demise of your brand too.

It’s worth noting at this point that if you’re selling a LOT through e-commerce platforms like Amazon, it could actually hinder your brands growth. So beware.

Providing great customer service & sales tactics in store could be the difference between a sale and your customer walking out the door and buying it online.

2 – Not Managing / Effectively Using Their Staff

If you own a small retail shop, your job isn’t to be the owner. You need to manage, train and sell… Lead by example.

There was this record shop in my local town, I’d walk in and the employee managing the store was either playing the guitar or on his phone. He could have been working on marketing material or doing something more productive.

The same thing goes for a local late bar near me too. It is empty throughout the day and picks up at night. Like most bars, right? Funny how they all seem to be shutting down too. What if those employees were consistently engaging with the comments on their Facebook page & building a relationship with them?

Ever heard of the 1000 fans theory? Here’s it summed up, you don’t need millions of fans to be successful. You only need 1000 true fans. A true fan is defined as anyone who will attend your events miles away, buy your merchandise, engage with you consistently on social media and essentially just turn up when others don’t.

Being a business owner, you’re in a prime position. Anyone coming into your business knows you’re the boss and that gives you a bit of authority. Engaging with customers works wonders.

Why? Well consumers will appreciate an authority figure taking the time to talk to them.

And considering customers still want to talk to a human being. Something that’s hard to find online, with Chat Bots on the rise and call centers being outsourced to third world countries like India and Bulgaria. They’ll appreciate your action even more.

This will help build up relationships and help you create your 1000 fan army. Your employees will see you leading by example and start helping you develop your very own 1000 fans. This will only be possible if you make them aware of this concept and show them how they can help.

All of this will compound and you’ll start getting word of mouth. If you have a few hundred true fans, they will tell their friends about your business and that will lead to a thriving local business. People are aware of the struggles of small businesses, we’ve learned the hard way by watching our favourite establishments close their doors.

Unmanaged employees will rob you blind, don’t give them the chance.

3 – Branding

Many small businesses believe they can get away with buying a logo from a freelancer on Fiver, choosing their colour scheme and thinking of a cool name for their business. That just doesn’t cut it in the present day.

You need a story, you need a hook… It’s what will keep people coming back time and time again. This is what the gigantic brands on the internet are doing, and it’s why they’re winning.

People might come for your product but they will stay / come back if your brand resonates with your consumers you will be FAR more successful. A solid brand identity is critical in order to develop customer loyalty and improve customer retention.

Think of it this way, how do you want your customers to view your business? Branding encompasses a lot of things, not just your logo and colour scheme.

Branding includes things such as your visual identity, the brand tone of voice, the personality of your brand and so much more. All of these come together to create a well refined brand which will help you survive on the high street.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, you should definitely look at global branding experts like Pearlfisher who can easily help to transform the look and image of your brand.