Retail transformation: it’s not all doom and gloom

Selfridges reports 6% sales growth following investment in customer experiences

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Geometry UK's CEO, Michelle Whelan, observes....

Shrugging off high street blues, Selfridges recently announced that full-year sales increased by 6% to £1.85 billion for the year to February 2019.

This iconic retailer said customer numbers increased after it drove investment into improving costumer experiences, such as the launch of a skate bowl on its new menswear floor at its Oxford Street store and opening its Brasserie of Light restaurant last year, with mirrored walls and a crystal-covered Pegasus sculpture designed by Hirst.

The news is hugely refreshing in light of recent high street closures.

PwC recently reported that on average 16 shops are closing every day in the UK, with many of them moving online. It also said that store openings rose by c.4% highlighting the potential opportunities for new entrants as well as established retail and leisure brands.

Changing times are opening up new opportunities for retailers, new ways of thinking and innovation as they explore new space for growth.

Take the recent John Lewis and Waitrose merger. It comes at a time when consumer habits have changed [nocturnal shopping alone has increased 23% in the last year], a tightening squeeze on disposable income, and decrease in footfall and spending power.

My take is that people already understand the John Lewis / Waitrose Partnership so the combination will make sense. And, that this unique internal structure and culture shared across the partnership – equally admired by public –will serve customers well. An enviable start point for any new marketing initiative.

I actually see this move as a massive marketing opportunity. Here is a chance to approach the role in start-up mindset. A chance to change legacy systems, invest in new martech to deliver hyper-personalisation, hyper-localisation and pivot the organisation to become future fit and drive scale.

My bet is that the merger will continue to put people at the heart of this extraordinary human-centric business where partnerships are key to success. It’s a chance to explore new ways to galvanise and motivate people across the organisation.

As a long-term personal fan, I genuinely hope so.

I am optimistic for retail – opportunities abound and Selfridges’ news shows us the way. Anne Pitcher, managing director of parent business Selfridges Group, said …“Into 2019 and beyond, we will strive to remain at the forefront of experiences as we disrupt and re-imagine the world of retail, where sustainability and creativity are at its heart.”

I couldn’t agree more. This creative, human-centric approach to business is the accelerator to growth.

Geometry UK

Our ambition is to drive growth by innovating where and how people discover, buy and use your products and services. Our proven growth framework unlocks growth opportunities in consumer (need state), channel (mission) and category (demand space). Our creativity changes behaviour in the moments that matter. With expertise across Retail & Shopper; Omni-Channel & Digital Commerce; Experiential; Brand & Design; Innovation; and B2B & Trade, our promise is to deliver ideas that create growth for your brand. Our clients include: Coca-Cola, GSK, Kimberly-Clark, PwC, HSBC, GORE-TEX, Shell, Diageo and Unilever. We’re led by our values. We are brave, we are trusting, we are reinventive and we are human. The people who make up Geometry are Geometry and we work hard to look after them – whether it’s our award-winning wellness programme, our IPA Gold standard training, our industry-leading benefits or our funding programme for employees’ passion projects.