Customer service levels have topped the list of challenges retailers are fearing the most as they head into the new financial year.
The finding comes from research conducted by retail display specialist Leach, as they spoke to the sector’s mid-senior level decision makers the length and breadth of the country.
39% said service levels will be the biggest challenge, followed by in-store technology (38%) and floor space (23%).
Interestingly though, 78% of research participants believe that it’s no longer about the size of a store – it’s what you do with a space that counts.
Commenting on the results, Leach’s managing director, James Lavin said: “We’ve seen more change on the high street in the last three years than we have in probably the last three decades. Experiential retailing matters more than ever before, as consumers become increasingly discerning, so offering more via the store environment – irrespective of a retailer’s footprint – seems to now be the overriding priority.”
That commitment to offering more has driven many recent product launches at Leach HQ, including Lightwave – a lightbox which conveys a sense of movement, designed to provide a more affordable alternative to a video wall – plus the ultra-bright Leach Box with 30% less power consumption than a conventional illuminated display.
“We have our own innovation department at Leach, dedicated to breaking new boundaries when it comes to delivering wow factor retail spaces for consumers,” continued James. “But even though this is a sector we know well, we don’t just rely on our own insight and instinct – we are constantly engaged in dialogue with retailers too, to truly get to the heart of their world. We want to know exactly where the biggest challenges and opportunities lie, so that we can help them navigate the ups and downs that follow.”
Other challenges uncovered by the research included merchandising (22%), POS displays (15%) and window dressing (12%).
When the topic of retailers’ interior budgets was discussed, only 7% of respondents felt that budgets are not being stretched too thinly. 59% believed that they are, whilst 34% sat on the fence.
“We do get retailers coming to us with strict budget parameters,” continued James. “And this cost-conscious mindset is extremely understandable. But when it comes to lightboxes especially, the most important factor is always graphics quality. In fact, when we questioned retailers about their primary concern when selecting a graphic display solution, quality came out top (24%), followed by price (19%) then durability (11%). Environmental considerations were another important factor, with reusability and CSR credentials increasingly playing on retailers’ minds.
138 retailers were interviewed as part of the research. To date, Leach has provided more than 10,000 displays to the retail industry. Clients include both independent stores and major high street brands including AllSaints, Gap and Regatta.