Has anyone else had enough of hearing about the impending death of the high street?

As passionate retail fanpeople and self-confessed shopaholics, we certainly are.

Yes, of course, it has been heartbreaking to see well-known stores synonymous with our childhood and teenage years closing down around us, but life moves on.

Those trips to bustling BHS, Woolies and Debenhams will always strike a nostalgic chord, but the Eighties and Nineties were actually a really long time ago; this is 2021 and things change whether we like it or not.

And with change and innovation come endless possibilities.

Today we have different tastes, different lives and, most significantly, different priorities when it comes to selecting brands and how we buy from them – not forgetting an enormous amount of choice.

So. Much. Choice.

While the high street is beginning to look less recognisable and lacks some of the old faithfuls, this merely paves the way for something contemporary and fresh and we are here for it.

We heart the high street

Granted the pandemic was another major blow for physical retail, but it has also encouraged brands to rethink and re-strategise in the face of adversity and, as a result, new methodologies and an even stronger emphasis on omnichannel experiences have emerged.

This coupled with a fresh thirst for the high street since stores reopened their doors after lockdown, and you could say physical retail is enjoying a comeback on a par with Craig David’s in 2016.

Having been shut in our homes for months on end, getting out to the shops and being among other living souls has new appeal and our need to feel part of thriving communities has never been stronger.

Shopping locally and more consciously has also become increasingly commonplace since the importance of supporting independent retailers, while taking care of our planet has sharply risen on the agenda.

Touchy feely

A Retail Gazette/JRNI white paper published in August 2021 included results of a survey revealing that, for more than half of UK shoppers, the desire to see, feel and try products remains vital.

With consumers enjoying the abundant choices available to them more than ever, there is no longer a need to pit in-store and online experiences against each other, but to capitalise on the blended approach craved by audiences.

Physical spaces have so much potential to reflect and complement a brand’s digital offering and creativity is key.

Taking a traditional instore model and flipping it on its head in order to captivate and delight customers is paramount and, with technology on hand to assist, many brands have now scaled their already popular omnichannel experiences.

Online retailers, wanting in on the action, are also devising new ways to connect with their audiences in the flesh by using pop up stores or other temporary activations as a means of putting a face to the brand, striking up genuine conversations and building relationships.

Speaking of faces, never underestimate the importance of the people behind those faces representing your brand; in order to make a memorable impact on customers entering your space, your staff must be on point, brimming with knowledge and able to connect with people from all walks of life.

Clichés are clichés for a reason and, as a specialist people agency, we know first impressions really do count.







Ace the space

It is a joy to see the high street buzzing with life once again and now is the time to harness that buzz and hook people in for the long haul.

Already brands and retailers are making giant leaps to transform tired shopping spaces and bring something new and intriguing to the table using a mix of visual, technological and human-led experiences.

Stores are becoming so much more than just stores.

You will no doubt have already visited and been part of countless creative encounters while shopping in recent years and it is these encounters that will keep you going back for more.

Brands that work hard to connect with audiences across all their platforms and give them something different and meaningful to sink their teeth into will continue to succeed.

Physical spaces must become brand destinations that look appealing while enabling customers to try products for themselves in an educational, entertaining and immersive way and, most importantly, feel something.

Continuing the theme of choice in-store remains vital, such as giving shoppers the ability to see how products will best fit their lives either through demonstration, VR or AR, as well as providing the option to purchase from staff or use their devices – whether to take away on the day, for later collection or to be delivered to their homes.

Experience, our saviour

However you paint it, retail experience continues to not only form the basis of the high street’s survival but more importantly, its undeniable resurgence.

With traditional retail models now outdated and less desirable, brands have more opportunity to experiment and innovate, creating modern and appealing spaces to seamlessly match their digital platforms.

Physical shopping is and will continue to enjoy this renaissance as in-store experiences become increasingly theatrical and entertaining, while introducing customers to new products, concepts and services.

As an agency committed to creating and delivering extraordinary retail experiences, Stellar is delighted to be part of this exciting shopping revolution, as we can see how much potential is yet to be unleashed.

We can help brands unlock their potential and look forward to seeing the high street continue to transform and flourish, both now and deep into the future.

Want to build a more immersive customer retail journey? Get in touch with Stellar.

Find more of our insight articles on retail experiences here.

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