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Experience-centric leaders are now everything in retail

How can retailers, and more importantly, retail leaders respond to the structural challenges facing the High Street?

My view is that experience-centric leaders are now everything in retail

Here’s some context: more than 420,000 traditional retail jobs have been lost in the UK since 2010, according to one of the UK’s biggest unions, the GMB. The decline of the High Street has been a much-covered topic in recent years but there has been no let-up with Wilko closing 400 stores here in the UK this week, resulting in 12,000 job losses. It’s worrying news for UK retailers that play on the High Street.

The need for retail leaders to all be ‘experience officers’ reminded me of a podcast I hosted last year with Rod Brown. We highlighted the need for retailers to recognise the importance of retail innovation and the consumer’s power in the future retail landscape.

Speed, reliability, choice, availability are all critical components vital to the customer experience. How retailers deliver on these core values is the defining factor of how well they can adapt.

The pandemic fuelled a distance between consumer ideals and habits. Whilst consumers might state they want a local community experience with a High Street packed with people, the reality is online convenience still drives considerable buyer behaviour. Blending logistics with digital to deliver a seamless customer experience is key.

There is great affection for niche stores on the High Street. But success (and profitability) appears to be about ultra-specialisation and a highly personalised experience that you’re willing to pay a premium for.

What are your thoughts on arresting the further decline of the High Street?

How relevant are ‘local’ bricks and mortar stores?

About BartonRock: BartonRock is the executive search partner for high-growth consumer and retail businesses

We manage the careers of executives whose know-how and commercial acumen steer the strategic direction for companies to thrive.

Our assignments search for executives who understand how to operate in dynamic and entrepreneurial environments.

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