The 2019 Retail Benchmarks Report, released today by Vend, found Mancunians overwhelmingly supportive of their local stores. Over four in five (83%) buy in independent shops, with their unique products (39%) and personal service (19%) drawing consumers away from big retail brands.
Boutique retailers make an enormous contribution to local communities, cornerstones of commercial space that allow shoppers to make conscious purchasing decisions. Nearly a third (32%) of those surveyed said they value the role of independent retailers on the high street, and 27% said they wanted to support resident entrepreneurs.
Shedding light on international transaction trends, 13,000 small businesses across five regions participated in the report. Monthly transactions in UK boutiques were 31% higher than in Australia and 23% higher than North America. Analysis found British shoppers cherish the shopping advice (18%) and product knowledge (19%) offered at boutique retailers.
Average number of transactions at the till across the five regions analysed:
However, UK high street independents are tracking monthly revenues at an average of 5.1% lower than their equivalents in North America, Australia and New Zealand. Brits pay an average of £34.37 at the till, while Americans splash £44.55, the report found.
Higor Torchia, managing director at Vend EMEA commented: “Uncertainty caused by Brexit is squeezing the profit margins at independent retailers, as consumers spend less on gifts, homeware items and clothes. You’d expect British boutiques to be tracking similar numbers to their peers across the globe, but it’s evident that they are operating in different, difficult economic and political circumstances.”
According to The Retail Benchmarks Report, UK retailers can climb the international index and increase their revenues if they focus on boosting their monthly customer count, which is the lowest among the five regions, sitting 43% behind North America.
Uncovering a new profile of shoppers, the report discovered distinctive ways that could increase loyalty among the shopping community. Over one in ten (12%) said they would be attracted to retailers who go plastic-free and 12% said they’d like to see local artists’ work for sale in the shop. A similar amount said they’d visit more often if they could learn new skills such as cooking or DIY upon visiting (11%), and 8% said they’d like to see more workshops and events held in store.
Yaw Djang, co-founder and owner of Oklahoma, a gift and homeware store in Manchester said: “The uncertainty around Brexit has definitely cast a pessimistic cloud over Manchester’s consumers. To help bring customers to the store we’ve been working hard to provide some really memorable retail experiences alongside implementing a clever customer loyalty scheme.
“A recent innovation of ours has been to host partner pop-ups at the store. Tapping into the recent trend for houseplants, we had Nonsense plants set up shop out front. Having plants slipping out onto the street was a great way of attracting new customers to the store, and we loved collaborating with another local business. We’ve also hosted regular workshops and talks at the store, which has really helped to add extra value for our existing customers and provide them with a reason to return.
“We’ve also been paying extra attention to our customer loyalty programme, which we now run and manage electronically. The average basket value of a returning customer is nearly always higher, and on any given day we can now see that between 30-40% of our customers have been in before. Being able to track our customer data then allows us to segment our customers and provide personalised offers according to their past interests. It’s a great way of enhancing our relationship with our customers, alongside rewarding those who have stuck with us since we opened back in 1997.”
Torchia continues: “There’s a clear desire to see businesses make positive contributions to the communities they operate in, and there’s value in thinking creatively about the services that could be offered in store to reflect this.
“Using technology to help keep track of spend will enable a focus on the marketing and loyalty tricks that really count, distinguishing stores from competitors even more.”
In addition to the report launching, Vend has also produced an interactive calculator – a platform that allows retailers to track their own business’ performance against competitors both globally and locally.
The calculator allows retailers to input their own data and track their performance across key metrics such as: average monthly revenue, average gross margin, average number of monthly transactions, average transaction values, average basket size (number of items per sale) and average number of customers.
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