May 26, 2021 • 41M

The Future State Of The High Street

Do we need to completely rethink local retail or is there a hybrid modern future?

Danny Denhard
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The Future State Podcast - Modern business & future trends explored by Nick Walter (CEO of XR startup Voritc) & Danny Denhard (founder of company strategy and company culture consultancy www.focus.business and newsletter mustreads.co.uk).
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The Future State Of The High Street 🛍

With the confidence increasing with the opening of shops and stores have reopened in 🇬🇧 and 🇺🇸, we have seen in the UK, footfall is lower than expected, restaurants seem to be quieter bringing the question of safety and comparing that to purely just spending in store.

Large stores and shops are quieter than expected, although we are seeing a small dip online too, bad weather = bad commerce in person, good weather = good commerce in person.
It raises the question were large towns built for national tourists and international tourists in large cities…definitely 😬.

Or, is the part of a bigger trend where online has killed off the high street and shopping IRL isn’t as important as it was once and is not a community staple as it was in the late 1800’s through to the early 2000’s.

We are even seeing a tech-first approach in-store with contactless checkouts, self-checkout kiosks, curbside pick up aka click and collect and the importance of the human expert dropping significantly.

This all coincides with Poundland’s IPO and announcing they are going into a deeper more local convenience store model.

So, this all helped Nick and I to discuss the important elements of the high street and answer the important questions:

  • The challenge of the high street

  • The history of the high street was to address the need

  • Why the evolution of butchers and grocers were so important in shaping today’s landscape

  • The community and local aspect of the high street and the importance of retail

  • Is the Poundlound IPO a sign of potential promising times?

  • The question that we should consider: Did fast fashion outlets kill the high street or was it online marketplaces? Thinking more than just eBay, Amazon (& notonthehighstreet & Etsy), the newer marketplaces like Onbuy.com, Depop, Vinted

  • Are high streets, shopping centres, retail parks considered the same thing or are they all competing?

  • Why immersive experiences are the way to go

  • Why Google, Amazon and Apple have (physical) stores as essential brand extensions and important connection points with customers

  • What’s coming next… a brighter more integrated high street?


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The Future State Of The High Street Timeline ⬇️

The full transcript is available here.

  • 01:38 - Danny: The impact of shutting stores in central London

    • The components and typical make up of the high street, Clothes shopping (H&M), Beauty, Bakery, Betting Shop, Estate Agents, Greggs, Coffee shop (typically a chain), Argos, Food shopping (Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda etc) Fast Food (McDonald’s, BK, KFC) QSR - chain (likely five guys), Pharmacy (+ chains like boots and Superdrug), Department store (typically a John Lewis, M&S), Pubs and bars, Charity shop(s), Nightclub(s) (Watford, St Albans, Manchester, Birmingham), DIY stores, Market (now a food market), Maybe a cinema

      Danny questions: Is the high street something that's valuable anymore?

  • 04:03 - Nick: brings up how covid and pandemic has changed and shaped the next normal and how Amazon managed to deliver everything in the middle of it all

    • Nick questions:

      • the psychology of why people purchase items

      • the role of technology

      • City vs local

      • The convenience of shopping local vs commuting

      • Do we really want chain restaurants like GBK and Wagamama’s or would we prefer smaller more craft based options

      • Is John Lewis a pull enough & could they be doing more?

  • 12:47 - Danny: takes us on a history lesson of the high street and the important origins &

    • Are big chains big enough pulls or do they need to do more?

    • Danny suggests Immersive has to be the future

    • Westfields power of footfall

    • Danny questions do we value our local experts enough? Or do we have a shortage of experts in retail

  • 16:05 - Nick recalls his time in the 🇺🇸 and how service roles are considered more than they do in 🇬🇧. Nick questions:

    • The role of the staff

    • The role of the landlord

    • The online impact on offline and logistical and financial optimisations

    • Do we have an issue with the shopping concept for younger people

    • Is there an opportunity to bring in a better advertising solution?

  • 23:39 - Danny raises listener question from Simon Swan:

    • Danny and Nick tackle Simon’s question and agree…

  • 25:37 - Nick brings up experience led shopping & doubles down on Danny’s Peloton example of local store strategy to complement online

    • & how offline needs to serve their customers in a more efficient light

    • Using beauty as the go-to example

  • 28:59 - Nick questions whether we should support Phillip Green or if anyone even would

  • 29:51 - The Future States - Aka The Hot Takes

  • Danny’s Hot Takes 🔥 🔥

    • Danny raised the want state vs need state vs action state and why this models works great offline and online

    • We will see big brands continue in retail and in high streets, following Amazon, Google and Apple

    • O2O2O - offline to online to offline or online to offline to online and the importance of connecting the dots

    • 4D experiences are needed for most people: Visual, Audio, Touch, Taste

    • Localised approach - will be local with shopping + delivery elements

    • Experience vs Price Vs Convenience

      • People crave experiences, something that improves your experience will be the right price, convenience can be replaced by brilliant service and personalised service

    • Being able to offer fewer people (not cramming) into the store

      • this is so important - red robe and safety over not being able to handle

    • Offering invite-only in-store experiences you make the experience far more compelling. In-person, red rope treatment has been lost in recent years – leverage this.

    • Co-working - we will see a smaller approach to WeWork, and Regis are nicely placed already if they are smart,

    • Personalisation & Offers

      • You can offer personalised experiences with personalised pricing

      • Personalised discounts (not just a store card - like the Pret giving a free coffee or tea)

      • “Nicki” can provide a discount or perk to regulars or loyal customers

    • You can connect online and offline together, gaining a better idea of ROI and CAC, alongside connecting LTV.

    • If this location was dark and invite-only - this would mean customers could book and you can build scarcity around the store, you could offer stock levels and instant picks ups – which many will look to, click and collect is still a huge influence on purchasing.

    • This truly can improve bad trips and turn into true experiences.

    • I truly believe that Apple or Google can own this - the screenshot or the photograph can be actionable and can buy.

      • Why have 100 apps when you can do it natively and brands have much lower costs and friction points?
        Danny’s go to example of how offline could be optimised or removed by big tech…

  • 35:37 Onwards - Nick’s Hot Takes 🔥 🔥

    • Shopping tailored around like shopping needs and shopping states

    • The retailers come into work together to create new shopping experiences

    • Sensors and connecting online and offline for true improvements for the shopping experience

    • More agility and flexibility is needed in physical spaces - leading to better city and town centres

    • “A real boom in independent stores”


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Thanks for reading and have a great end to your week.

Danny Denhard & Nick Walter

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