Seen the cringey homemade video we made to enter Confessions of a Start Up?
One of the diary entries tells the story of us searching for the location of our flagship store.
Which got me thinking about the place the high street will play in our lives going forward and the nature of retail businesses because of it.
I guess we have to think about the key drivers for consumers and these days we can’t ignore the massive influence of price, sometimes even over value for money.
With the aid of Google comparison shopping and the big boys; Mr Amazon and Mrs Ebay there is a general acceptance that online is always the place to look for the lowest price.
Music downloads sent our local record shops down. The Trainline leaves your local station ticket office lonely and 3D printing will surely put the final nail in our high street’s coffin.
Unsurprisingly then, E-commerce is a massive growth industry, especially in the food and drink sector with sales online increasing 15% p/year.
When I first heard that statistic I was quite amazed because although I do love my Graze box, I can’t imagine the market for buying food and drink online is that big (excluding grocery shopping).
That is because as well as price, quality and value is always going to be super important and very influential in determining what people buy and where from.
And that’s where the high street fits in.
Or it did.
Now there are two other major options to the traditional high street model that provide this human interaction but still maintain the low prices associated to online shopping:
1. The ‘Apple model’
Brands have limited ‘experience’ stores where customers can interact with the products but there is a general acceptance that they won’t take them home with them, more likely to order online at a later date. Probably after a scout around to see if anywhere else online can offer a better price. Let’s face it, Apple are always a big trend setter and proven to be way ahead of the times, so they are likely to have it spot on.
2. The ‘Extra model’
One-stop-shopping will become the ultimate convenience. The growth of mass stores such as Tesco Extra that provide literally everything you could ever need under one roof, will become the destination of choice for shoppers. Even more unique items will be ripped off, mass produced as ‘extra brand’ for a fraction of the price.
If you look at their extensive ‘extra’ catalogue you struggle to think of a product that they don’t stock. But what if this was all you had to choose from to experience life with?
If we only had the contents of a Tesco Extra store to play with, share with others, choose our dinner from and decorate our homes with… No bespoke products or locally produced items in our lives? No independent, unique, rare and hand crafted items.
You could try to argue that we don’t need these speciality or hand crafted things and that the ‘extra brand’ stuff is just fine.
But I don’t buy it. (Pun intended!).
There is so much more to items like this that you can’t sum up in an online catalogue.
I like to think of them as items with a story.
Humans love a good story because it provides a new and interesting aspect to something that they had never considered in that light before. Then they want to pass it on and share with other, social beings that we are.
Don’t underestimate the influence of a good story that speaks to our emotions and strikes a chord with the human person inside making these buying decisions.
We love picking up local food from the local market because we love the story behind how it was made and produced on our doorsteps by the very hands of the person who wraps it up for you as they have been doing for generations. You want to tell people about the totally unique methods they used with such care and affection that no mass producers can replicate.
We love buying bespoke jewellery from independent designers because of the story behind their influences and ideas. You want to tell the story of how they have crafted each individual piece by hand after foraging for sea glass on their local beach.
You just can’t get that from your local Tesco or from Mrs Ebay. They are useful and cheap but they are flat and boring and they don’t whisper stories into our souls.
When you buy from local, independent or interesting shops you are getting an experience and you get to take that story home with you along with your cheese and earrings!
That’s value for money!
Love + Tea