While some online retailers such as Amazon are examining new high street opportunities and expanding in the physical shopping space, others are struggling. However, insight from handling equipment provider Midland Pallet Trucks, who provides high lift pallet trucks, lift tables, and machinery jacks for warehouses, suggests that there are a number of options that brick-and-mortar retailers can explore in order to overcome the current ‘doom and gloom’ being experienced.
Recently, the UK high street lost two additional stores — Mothercare and Bon Marche — and The Guardian reports that the UK high street has seen a 10% decline in footfall over the past seven years. A significant portion of the doom and gloom has been attributed to the ongoing and drawn out economic uncertainty resulting from the continual delay in delivering Brexit. But despite this, some retailers have reported positive periods of growth. JD Sports has recently reported a 10% increase in sales and the launch of 23 new stores across Europe, while Primark reported a 4% year on year growth and has announced plans to open 19 new stores over the coming 12 months.
JD Sports credits a push towards more premium products as the key to its success during this challenging period. Midland Pallet Trucks supports this, issuing advice for retailers to consider prioritising inventory diversification as an avenue to growth.
“As we can see from the example of JD Sports, inventory is at the core of retail success at this time of doom and gloom, but as we know, warehousing space really is at capacity, particularly as a result of Brexit stockpiling and panic buying” says Midland Pallet Trucks Managing Director Phil Chesworth. “While businesses can’t magically create more space, what they can do is ensure effective utilisation of the space they do have through the use of quality equipment for efficient picking”.
Another growing trend amongst successful high street businesses is a renewed focus on negating last mile challenges. Midland Pallet Trucks states that it is essential for businesses to question why footfall is declining despite increasing demand for a revival of the traditional shopping experience, as witnessed by the unprecedented success of Macy’s STORY approach over in the United States. Ongoing issues with the last mile, especially delivery times from distant warehouses, is creating new opportunities for in-store distribution for fast, cost-effective delivery from local centres.
“In-store distribution and a ‘direct-to-consumer’ approach are slated to be some of the biggest trends in the future of warehousing, but once again we’re left with the same problem of effective and efficient management of the centre” continues Chesworth. “For businesses to grab these opportunities and override the issues affecting many high street retailers today, there is an urgent need for a better understanding of the tools needed for safe and productive warehouse operations”.