Buy, buy, buy.

That’s the one thing you want when your customers come to your store – because what other reason would they have to come to you? Food, new clothes, furniture, a drink, open their wallets and ... well, things sure have changed, haven’t they? In the new book, “Retail Recovery” by Mark Pilkington, see how retail survival hinges on buying in.

If you’ve paid attention the last 22 months, you can clearly see how shopping has changed.

First of all, says Pilkington, big retailers shuttered in droves or were bought up by larger entities that left storefronts empty and landlords struggling. Big brands often disappeared, along with their stores, or they cut manufacturing – and this is if they could even get goods shipped here from overseas and trucked to physical locations. Because of that, the difficulty in finding a store to in-person shop, and due to shelter-in-place mandates and store closings, consumers moved online for their shopping, and they learned to love the convenience.

What a mess.

This, says Pilkington, has been “brewing up” since about 2015, so it’s not new. But while consumer spending as we know it “went through these difficult changes, the groundwork was being laid for a potential, yet very substantial, retail revival,” he says.

Because consumers have shown that they’re willing to pay more for products if purchased from a service business, smart retailers have learned to set themselves up as professionals or experts. Consumers, Pilkington says, also want to shop with a conscience, and they are attracted to businesses that are “purpose-built.”

If you are a retailer, learn from websites by using data collected from your customers and by integrating web plus physical presence. Hire a customer service consultant, and learn to embrace “showrooming” by offering customers home delivery or automatic reordering. Remember: brick-and-mortar stores can lend personal touches that online entities cannot; retailers need to utilize that huge advantage by offering customers more than they can get from an anonymous website.

Says Pilkington, it’s “The only route forward...”.

There’s something good to be said about “Retail Recovery,” but not until about a third of the way into the book.

For the first 80 pages, Pilkington tells readers things they already know: in the last several years, stores struggled, declared bankruptcy and closed. Yes, there are stats, and yes, he writes about the outlook overseas, but it’s more of the same, of which business readers are already well aware. It’s a reminder, for sure, but a dismal one at that.

Get through the stuff you already know – skim it, if you want – and then settle in. There’s advice in the last two-thirds of this book, and intriguing information that may help find the survival skills you might need if you’re a retailer – although you might think it’s pretty commonsensical, once you’ve seen it in print.

Bottom line, this book is worth a try, but beware its redundancy. In your heart, you already know this stuff, but “Retail Recovery” still might help attract customers to buy-buy-buy.

c. 2021, Bloomsbury, $28/higher in Canada, 310 pages

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