Setting Up Shop

Consumer trends have reshaped the way in which Briton’s shop and now there exists an opportunity to introduce a new brand of retailing to consumers, by investing in a brand with a track record for innovation. Gareth Samuel reports on the oscillating retail market as an area of priority interest for investors.

The elephant in the room, when talking about the future of retail, is the effect the internet is having on high street giants. Woolworths, Comet and others have, of course, fallen by the wayside thanks to the shift in the way Britons shop – through dazzling webpages and cutting edge logistics. It is, therefore, the task of truly fluid retail brands to adapt to market changes in order to maintain a bright future for the brand in question.

Complete entertainment eXchange (CeX) is a prime example of a thriving franchise that constantly evolves with its customers. Senior Franchising Manager, Frank Orchard, says: “CeX constantly tweaks its model to reflect the society in which we exist. We are entirely consumer driven and will adapt to the latest trends as they emerge. Our staff play a big role in our success in that they remain current and up to speed with the latest technology on the market.”

In late August this year, the high street retail and exchange company completely relaunched their website and online presence, to put themselves ahead of the competition and react to varying consumer trends. The new site allows users to select any item they want to buy or sell to the gadget brand, and select it to be delivered to-door from the CeX store that has the requested item in stock. It is innovation such as this that reinforces Frank’s view that retail is still very much an exciting sector.

“Over the past few years there has been a surge in consumers searching for value goods and services on the high street,” he adds. “If the retail proposition stacks up and the product and customer experience has the potential to draw people into the store, you are half way there. The winning formula is found when these factors are backed up by a sound business model, brand affinity and proven financial returns. Retail franchises are a good place to start, but always remember to do your homework.”

One of the biggest developments in the retail industry is the emergence of apps used for connecting with and selling to customers. Kitchen renovation franchise, Dream Doors, is well regarded as one of the most innovative and adaptive franchise brands in the retail sector. Their incredible new app made national headlines upon its release earlier this year and its complete interactivity has helped Dream Doors visualise exactly what their kitchen will look like, with a combination of appliances and colours, before they decide to proceed.

Dream Doors’ Managing Director, Troy Tappenden, says: “We’ve invested hundreds of thousands into bespoke software over the last couple of years, all of which is designed to help franchisees sell more and, of course, make more money. The app builds on all of that investment, and will bring millions of pounds into the company.”

According to The Guardian the future for retailer lies in being more personally connected to the needs of the customers through digital and face-to-face sales. One July article reads: “Today’s consumer is always connected. Enabling customers to research products and purchase them anywhere – and fulfil their needs – is a challenge many retailers now face. ‘Me-tailing’ (where retailers offer personalised products and interactions) puts the customer at the heart of the retail experience, allowing them to fulfil a purchase and pay anyway they like.”

For investors, there has to be tangible growth in a prospective market for it to be of interest as a credible opportunity. Therefore as the famously heaving Christmas season approaches – when many retail businesses complete a large percentage of their overall trade – it is with relief and excited anticipation that franchise owners greet the predictions of retail information specialists, Verdict.

The large consumer watchdog business predicts that Christmas 2013 is set to be the most lucrative festive season since the beginning of the economic recession and that consumers are set to spend a total of £88bn. Verdict Research Director, Maureen Hinton, explains: “During the recession there has been a baby boom which means one of the prime targets for Christmas spending – kids – is growing.” In addition to the traditional retail outlets for high street shoppers, the evolution of click and collect services have truly changed the way in which consumers shop.

According to Patrick O’Brien, Principal Analyst at Verdict, this trend is set to continue over the festive period: “Shoppers have greater confidence in online retailing now and are prepared to leave holiday purchases right up until just before Christmas. This is supported by the rise of ‘click and collect’ services, which will be much more in evidence this year. Retailers have rushed to develop and market their ‘click & collect’ services, leaving shoppers the convenience of collecting purchases in store instead of having to ensure they are at home at the right time.”

Click and collect is just one of the technological avenues that retailers are exploring in order to keep ahead of the game. What remains constant in retailing is if a product is good, the public will want it. Green Square is a renewable energy solutions retailer and the business has been so successful in just seven months of trading that it has begun franchising.

The business is built on selling completely renewable energy solutions for both commercial and domestic customers and subcontracting installers to fit the systems. With rising energy prices, Government incentives and ecological awareness, Green Square is thriving financially and is one of the hottest franchising prospects on the market today.

It is inarguable that an opportunity exists for the most creative thinkers within the franchising world to build up a business through initiative – earning success this way within the reassuring parameters of franchising is likely to be the best way forward for intelligent entrepreneurs.