The disruption brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded both the consumer and the retailer ‘the power of community’. Quinine, an integrated research, strategy and design consultancy, shares a report outlining a series of interventions that demonstrate how retailers are integrating themselves more deeply into the fabric of the community and are making the physical store experience more local.
With consumer movement largely restricted, 50 per cent of consumers are now choosing more locally sourced goods, and a similar number indicate that they trust local products and services more and consider them to be of higher quality than the alternatives. This loyalty is mirrored in people’s relationship with their local community.
The report states that in the UK alone, 60 per cent of residents agree that the lockdowns have enhanced their love for their local area. The consumers have been forced to move away from their reliance on large retailers in urban centres and have increasingly turned to smaller, independent businesses to support their day to day needs. Data indicates that 22 per cent of people in the UK visited a local convenience store every day during lockdown, which explains the double growth in this sector since 2019. But the most notable shift resulting from this forced repatriation into local retail is that consumer expectations of value have been re-set. No longer are they willing to endure soulless, impersonal and standardised retail experiences. Independent stores have shown the consumer the true potential of the physical retail experience.
The cookie-cutter retail model of old, where all stores look the same, has been losing relevance for some time. The pandemic and the associated affection for local retail has accelerated this shift. Consumers now want a more unique, personal and localised store experience. So, rather than invade a community with a generic, pre-defined formula, large national brands are adapting. They are looking to follow independent retail’s lead and embrace the specific needs and habits of each locale.
In the report, Quinine outlines 20 ways that retailers around the world have been adapting to support local communities better:
- Communicate Local Messages
2. Re-think Location and Property Selection
3. Consider Store Opening Times
4. Adopt a Locally Inspired Look and Feel
5. Source Local Materials
6. Deliver a Store Design Unique to Each Location
7. Champion Local Products and Services
8. Collaborate Locally
9. Facilitate Delivery and Local Pick-up
10. Hold Community Events, Training and Workshops
11. Localise the In-store App Experience
12. Provide a ‘Live’ Feed into the Physical Store
13. Hire Local People
14. Empower Staff to Respond to the Local Community
15. Facilitate Community Conversations
16. Champion Staff Engagement
17. Local Staff Onboard at Home
18. Products and Services Curated for Local Community Needs
19. Engage with Local Initiatives, Charities and Teams
20. Champion Local Competitions and Games