Retail Survivors: Who is doing it well?

Photograph: Charlotte Luisa pop-up shop in John Lewis, Leeds. [1st August 2018]


Here at The Great British Exchange we are lucky to work with some excellent retailers that excel at both experience and brand. Having taken time to get to know their customers really well, they are at ease with them in store which also helps to create a frictionless buying environment.

One of our roles at The Great British Exchange is to help retailers like these to differentiate themselves from competition and, within the independent sector in particular, we have found the following strategies to be most effective:

  • Sourcing British-made products.
  • Retelling the story behind the brand, maker or designer.
  • Stocking goods made within a defined radius of the store to reduce carbon footprint.
  • Focusing on varied and innovative products.
  • Identifying new and emerging brands.

Looking at some specific, well-known examples, John Lewis is a prime example of a retailer that continues to woo its customers and attract new ones. Looking back at the Kahn Retail Success Matrix, the business is excellent at three of the four pillars: brand, experience and frictionless. Their own brand products are reliable and of consistently high quality so customers feel safe and secure buying from them. Their online and distribution channels are frictionless and they prioritise customer service so it’s a nice place to shop, whether you’re in store or online. Most importantly, they are offering things that consumers can’t easily find elsewhere. They have focused on developing a strong own-brand product range that eliminates the potential for like for like competition on price and they have gone out of their way to excel at sourcing. We have worked closely with John Lewis for a number of years to help them source newness and variety.

No conversation about retail survivors would be complete without a mention for Amazon, whose seamless distribution and delivery system has driven consumer expectations through the roof. They are also often unbeatable on price. The fact that they do both of these things better than almost anyone else means they are unlikely to relinquish their position on the retail leader board any time soon.

If you’d like to talk to one of our retail sourcing specialists about applying some of the points raised in this article within your own business call us on 01423 229988.

In our next article we’ll look at whether the physical store has a future on the high street. To download a copy of our white paper, How to Survive this Retail Apocalypse, click here.


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