How Do You Put a Price on a High Street Store?

From the earliest days of retail, the value of stores has almost exclusively been one thing - monthly revenue. Now though, with the rise of eCommerce, stores would appear to have lost much of their value.

Below Christine Bailey, Chief Marketing Officer at international payment solutions company Valitor, explains for Finance Monthly the complexities of valuation and exactly how retailers can determine the value of their stores.

One look around our high streets or news website and you are met with empty stores and articles proclaiming the death of the high street. However, things are starting to change. So it’s time to reevaluate high street stores and put a new price on them.

Price wars with eCommerce 

The reality that has existed for some time is that with higher overheads and a smaller inventory, bricks and mortar stores are at too big a disadvantage to compete with eCommerce on price and choice. Smartphones in hand, consumers are quickly comparing online and in-store prices and buying whatever is cheapest and most convenient. Things only get worse with large scale events such as Black Friday. In fact, nine in ten Heads of Commerce believe these sale events have devalued products in the minds of consumers, to the extent that they’re less likely to shop during non-discounted periods.

In order for brands and retailers to effectively revalue their stores, we need to understand what physical stores can offer and online cannot. Firstly, bricks and mortar have a clear lead with personalising the customer experience. By blending their online and offline setups together, omni-channel retailers can dramatically improve the customer experience

By blending their online and offline setups together, omni-channel retailers can dramatically improve the customer experience.

Offering more than quick sales

For instance, physical stores can benefit an omnichannel retailer via its unique strengths, including in-person support, simple returns, and the ease of payments. In fact, recent research found that almost one in five (19%) retail executives think the top hidden strength of the high street is its people. Assets like in-person support then should not be overlooked. Together, these strengths contribute to a robust in-store customer experience, which may not translate into a sale being made at the store itself, but can support online sales, or reinforce the brand.

Taking this further, there are other elements that omni-channel retailers also need to take advantage of. Embracing an experiential approach and putting customers at the centre of a physical brand experience is key to revaluing physical stores. Through shifting their focus from selling products to the people purchasing them, brands can connect with consumers on another level and start building long term relationships.

One great example and leader in this area is Nespresso. By focusing on consumer needs, Nespresso’s stores showcase its products in an immersive way, creating a multisensory experience. Staff add to this with expert knowledge and can take customers from the physical point of sale all the way to a personalised subscription plan which is then facilitated via its app. So although purchases are made via the app, the physical store has a major driver in securing the sale in the first place and providing an experience centre to push new products and flavours.

Nespresso’s customers now no longer see its stores as just a place to make purchases. Instead, they have become destinations that they want to go, all of which helps build a positive connection with the brand and support the development of a long term relationship. This type of store usage can be replicated quickly and easily by other brands too. What is crucial is having a physical presence that aligned to customer needs.

In the future we may see innovative technologies such as VR and AR also being used, shifting shoppers’ experiences from simply browsing, to immersing themselves in a brand’s offering. But, retailers need to understand it before they invest in it. Crucially, brands also need to identify whether their customers are actually interested in it and see benefit in using it, prioritising their wants and needs.

In this high-pressure era of retail, stores should not be valued purely on revenue anymore. Instead, they should be viewed as a way to complete true end-to-end experiences from first engagement through to the next purchase. Ultimately, this will increase customer retention and the value of each transaction too. While revenue is an ever-important consideration, the ways customers make purchases has changed. This does not mean the value of stores has disappeared. Instead, brands and retailers need to look at how a physical stores advantage can be used to improve the omni-channel experience.

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