PPM Article: Thrive on the High Street

future of the high street article

How independent pet stores can thrive on the high street of the future… by looking to the past. Article by Guy Blaskey originally published in the trade magazine Pet Product Marketing.

For those who missed my talk on at PATS Sandown on how independent pet stores can thrive on the high street of the future I thought it would be good to write a shortened version of it. You can also catch the full-length version at PATS Harrogate in September and we will hopefully get a video online at www.xoxx.co.uk

To thrive on the high street of the future you first need to know what the high street of the future is going to be like. In my opinion it is going to be a lot like the high street of the past… a place where when you go into a shop the person behind the counter knows you, a place where you know that the person working in the shop is an expert that will be able to help you and a place that is the centre of the community.
There are many examples that you can look at on a traditional high street and borrow from. Below are a three of the eight examples that I used in my talk:

The Butcher: When you go into a butcher’s you know that the butcher has cut the meat himself and knows all about it. They will even tell you the best way to cook it. It sounds obvious, but a butcher is a “meat expert”. You should make sure that your customers feel the same when they come into your store. They should feel that they are talking to a “pet expert” and everyone working in the store should know about the products that you sell and the pets that you sell products for.

The Newsagent: Although newsagents are being replace by the likes of Tesco Metro and Sainsbury’s Local one area that they pioneered was the standing order. People would leave standing orders for the newspapers and magazines that they needed regularly, then either collect them or have them delivered. Pet owners have regular requirements for pet products too, products like foods and our own Pooch and Mutt supplements. You could offer these products to your customers on a standing order (possibly by offering a discount if they sign up for a set period). You can then place these orders with your suppliers. This will help your cash flow and projections, as you have the income guaranteed, and your stock levels, as you know in advance what you will need and it is a great service to offer to your customers.

The Milkman: Delivering direct to your door was a goldmine for dairies and it could be for pet shops too. Online pet stores do offer home delivery, but not well – often delivery is 9am – 5pm weekday, when a lot of people aren’t home. This causes many problems and is generally inconvenient. As a local store you could deliver on your way to or from work, at times when people are more likely to be home and if the delivery is missed people know that your store is just down the road, not in a dispatch centre miles and miles away. The best way to promote this is to use localised google AdWords. So that if your store is based in Harrogate you can set up ads, so that when someone in Harrogate does a google search for “Mobile Bones Joint Supplement” an ad comes up that says “Buy Mobile Bones Joint Supplement from ABC Pets Harrogate – Free local delivery”. This can then link to a page on your site that explains the free delivery and lets people order. I wrote an article about how to set up localised AdWords a few months ago, you can read the article again here
Last year in her government-commissioned high-street review Mary Portas said:

”You’ll never be able to beat the sheer efficiency of the web.

You’ll never be able to compete with the range and diversity of the major multiples and supermarkets.

Where you can compete and need to focus your efforts in three core areas: Experience, Service and Specialism.”

I whole-heartedly agree with what Mary Portas is saying here, but what I want to add is that before most high streets became bland and similar with the same chain stores on each of them this is what the high street offered.

High streets of the past were full of specialists offering a great shopping experience, amazing service and were often highly specialised. This is what you should offer to thrive on the high street of the future.