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IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

A spring in their step: latest retail footfall 2017

IT Services and Solutions
  • 15 May

A spring in their step: latest retail footfall 2017

What was retail footfall in April 2017? Latest research from BRC Springboard reveals that over the last three months, footfall has increased 0.7% – marking the first positive three-month average since May 2014 and the highest since February 2012. Overall, footfall in April increased by 1.6%, enjoyed its fastest monthly growth since March 2014. The inclusion of Easter and Bank Holidays in April will have contributed to such big numbers, however despite this, the picture over the last quarter has been largely positive. Clearly, there is still a strong desire for physical bricks-and-mortar shopping – research carried out by Retail Week found that 71% of consumers make at least 60% of their purchases in a physical store. However, we know that purchasing alone is not enough. Retailers must integrate their store into a wider omnichannel retail strategy: in the next year, 35% will use stores to ‘browse, touch and feel’ items before buying online; while 9% will use them for click and collect in their collection of online orders. Where are they shopping? As our infographic above displays, UK high streets attracted a large increase with footfall up 2.3% in April – the fastest growth since March 2014. Retail parks saw their shopper numbers increase by 2.7%. However, footfall at shopping centres declined 0.6% year-on-year, set against a three-month average decline of 0.9%. BRC Chief Exec Helen Dickinson said April footfall figures were boosted by visits to shopping destinations during the Easter holidays. The increase was also fuelled by the weakened pound, which drove an increase in tourism: figures from London’s West End highlight this trend, with a 2.7% uplift in footfall this April. Out of Hours One of the more interesting statistics in the report points towards the social shift towards leisure-focused experiences. Whilst high-street footfall rose 1.9% during retail trading hours, trips after 5pm increased by more than 3%. If your IT services and solutions aren’t supported during out of hours, which is the “peak time” for many retailers and hospitality operators, see how our retail IT support could help. Our team is available 24 x 7, supporting end users in 9 languages, in 18 countries. Find out more here, or get in touch about your IT support requirements via marketing@retail-assist.co.uk In other news, our retail technology blog has been recognised in the Top 100 Global retail tech blogs, as ranked by Feedspot. Thanks for reading!  …
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retail technology news
  • 13 Feb

3 ways to increase your store conversion rate

In the news this week are latest footfall reports on January 2016, as the headlines proclaim the High Street struggles once again. Footfall fell 1.3% in January year-on-year, which marks the deepest decline since June 2016 and the post-Brexit vote slip when footfall plummeted 2.8%. Shopping centres were worst hit: footfall slid 3% year-on-year, making it the 12th consecutive month of decline at shopping centres. On the High Street, figures were down by 0.8%. Cue “death of the High Street” and “online cannibalisation”. But when the UK High Street is still the main channel for 45% of shoppers, it still has a firm place. The trick is making your stores more relevant to the consumer of today. It’s all about stock Consumers admit to visiting retailers’ stores for browsing purposes, to see how a garment will physically look and wear. So, how to make those browsers convert into purchasers? Making your stock readily available where it’s needed most must be the focus for retailers this year. With business rates increasing, and online competition, it boils down to the simple fact that retailers must generate more full price sales per square metre. The store is an asset that must be maximised for the best return. Having items in-stock that are most likely to be bought, in the correct sizes, must be a number one priority. This requires an omnichannel supply chain solution with the flexibility and dependability to utilise a central stock pool to efficiently fulfil and replenish demand across all channels. Stock management and movement must also be achieved more profitably – rather than shipping items to store from the warehouse, our retail IT solution Merret will ship from store if it’s more cost effective.  It’s a fact that customers want items faster, with priority delivery options being favoured by over half of shoppers. If the item can be seen, tried, and bought all in the store visit, this greatly improves the store customer experience.  Or, if it’s out of stock, make in-store ordering an easier and more joined up process, so that the customer isn’t left feeling like they could do it themselves. Which brings us on to the next point… Educate, communicate 7 in 10 consumers say that when they go shopping, they know more than the store assistant. This is changing the culture of the store from one of expert advice and valuable experience, to a plain nuisance. We’ve all been there – the store assistant goes to “check in the back” for your preferred size and never returns, or can’t direct you to the correct location, leaving you to fumble around the store for a good 5 minutes, before giving up and leaving empty handed. Retailers must invigorate store teams to sell well, and give the consumer an experience to remember. Technology such as our Merret Tablet Inventory can give store staff the tools they need to please the demanding customer. It’s demonstrated here at Karen Millen, as the customer asks to check stock in other…
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  • 22 Dec

Black Friday vs Boxing Day

In the UK Boxing Day is a well-established tradition in the retail calendar. However, over the past couple of years, the American import that is Black Friday is proving to be tough competition. While the event has been an important part of the US shopping calendar since the 1960s, Black Friday has only been running in the UK for four years and already looks set to overtake Boxing Day. Retailers are jumping on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday trends by kicking off the festive sales nice and early, and helping to boost not only footfall but also customer engagement. The extraordinary success of this event has got many experts thinking about whether Black Friday could fundamentally change the UK shopping calendar. Online Director at John Lewis, Mark Lewis, commented; “Black Friday has definitely become one of the key dates in the UK’s shopping calendar. Following steady growth over the last few years, Black Friday really emerged in the UK in 2013, when we saw the day break our previous records for a single day’s online trade.” Lewis added; “Black Friday is changing the way our customers plan their Christmas shopping.” Some experts have warned that with this growth in popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday it could mean the death of Boxing Day sales. From a consumer’s point of view, why would they want to rummage through all of the left over stock when you could pick up cheap Christmas presents a month before the big day? But with price drops in the lead up to Christmas, it doesn’t leave retailers much scope to further reduce prices on 26th December. Tesco says it expects Black Friday to beat Boxing Day sales in 2014 as it reported discounts of as much as 70%. According to Visa on Black Friday, consumers spent £1m on its cards every 3minutes throughout the day. Both IBM and Adobe highlighted the impressive impact of mobile devices over the long weekend that included both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Adobe commented; “Smartphones nearly doubled their share of total online sales on both days.” IBM added; “Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic – the first time mobile devices has outpaced their PC counterparts for online browsing.” An estimated £810m was spent online by British shoppers on Black Friday, according to internet retail experts IMRG – this was an increase of 74% on 2013 figures. Cyber Monday also showed an increase on last year’s figures of 44%. Even if the sales season continues on through to Boxing Day, it’s unlikely we will see the same success that was had on Black Friday. Needless to say how retailers perform on 26th December this year will be a key indicator of things to come in the future of retail sales.…
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  • 28 Nov

Black Friday 2014

Black Friday has a massive impact on the retail sector and as an IT company that works largely with retailers we wanted to explore exactly what Black Friday means and find out where the term came from. History Black Friday is the day that immediately follows the American holiday, Thanks Giving, which falls on every 4th Thursday in November. It is also the unofficial kick off of the retail Christmas shopping season, but it hasn’t always been this way. The term ‘Black Friday’ was first established by traffic police in Philadelphia in 1924, long before traffic lights. Although not an official holiday day many employers used to give their employees the day off so that they could take advantage of the discounts that were on offer. However this was not the case for the Philadelphia traffic police who weren’t permitted to have the day off to enjoy some retail therapy, instead they had to man the streets and try and contain the madness. They were rotated on 12 hour duty and even the police band had to lend a hand controlling the traffic in the city centre. So it was not uncommon to see the police band’s trumpet player waving traffic through. Not only did these police officers have to manage the high volumes of car and foot traffic during the day, but also when night-time fell they had to then deal with the crowds that descended on the streets to watch the Army/Navy football game. The Philadelphia Police Department starting using the term “Black Friday” as a negative term surrounding the hassle they would face in policing the day, to try and deter people from venturing out on the streets. The term then got adopted by retailers to signifythe transition of retailer’s financial records moving from the ‘red’ in to the ‘black’ i.e. back into profit. Now the term is becoming widely accepted in the UK, since Amazon first started launching Black Friday deals in 2010, and Asda with their buying power of Walmart behind them in 2013. Today Depending on your perspective Black Friday could be seen as a frantic shopping experience that makes you just want to crawl back under your duvet, or it could be a great opportunity to pick up a bargain just in time for the expensive Christmas period. Black Friday has clearly changed over the years, something that started as an America traffic issue has transgressed in to a shopping bonanza that each year keeps exceeding the targets reached in previous years. The internet has fundamentally changed the concept of Black Friday forever. There is no longer the need to start queuing outside stores from the early hours of the morning in the cold, or even the night before. Last year Amazon’s busiest trading time was at 1pm on Black Friday. This year’s projection for online sales shows that in the UK alone shoppers will spend £1m every 3 minutes which is £6k every second. In the US total sales have been estimated…
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