The retail sector is fast-paced, dynamic and undeniably lucrative, growing with each passing year. If you’re interested in entering this sector and making your mark as a business owner, franchising is a great option. But you’ll need to get prepared, and do plenty of research prior to investing.
The retail industry employs over 3.1 million people [Statista], so it stands to reason that as a retail franchisee, you’ll have a lot of competition. The best way to outperform this competition from the second that your business launches is to get to know the sector well. This article is the perfect place to start if you’re looking to build a profitable business in retail, and you’ll soon discover the top four trends of the year.
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What does a retail franchise do?
Step one of researching the retail sector, before you even dive into the trends shaping things in 2021, is to find out whether you’d be a good fit. What will you be doing as a retail franchisee, and will this be appealing to you? What kind of niche will you want to occupy? Are you good with people, and committed to providing quality customer service? There are many questions you’ll need to ask yourself. As a jumping-off point, here are some of the things you’ll likely need to do on a daily or regular basis as a retail franchise owner:
- Communicate and negotiate with customers
- Analyse and forecast trends
- Market and advertise your franchise/your franchise’s products
- Respond to customer complaints and feedback
- Manage the quality of your products (and your entire location’s quality of customer service, if you’re employing a team of workers)
- Organise orders and delivery dates
There are so many roads to take in the world of retail, and many of the specifics of what you do will depend on your niche. As a franchisee with Endura Roses, you’d be selling and arranging preserved floral bouquets, but a world away, as a franchisee with CAVAVIN, you’d be selling high-quality wines and spirits.
The shape of the retail sector post-COVID
Retail was one of the sectors of industry hardest hit by the pandemic, and this is especially true of retailers that were labelled ‘non-essential’ and forced to close their doors for months at a time. Still, thanks to renewed post-lockdown demand and increased innovation in terms of click-and-collect and online ordering, global shopping volumes were still able to increase by 35% during these unprecedented times [McKinsey & Company]. The industry is surprisingly resilient, and now that the UK public is shopping again and Christmas is approaching, it’s actually an ideal time to make your investment in a retail franchise and hop on board.
[COVID] is seeing retailers fast track digital integration, using innovation to come up with cunning ways to leverage existing stores to support online sales. For example, Dunelm quickly introduced a contact-free ‘deliver-to-car’ click and collect alternative, while partnerships with third parties such as Deliveroo and Aldi continue to provide a lifeline to those dabbling in e-commerce.
- Retail Economics
The top retail sector trends of 2021
As mentioned, demand is high in the retail world. Competition is stiff as a result. By carrying the knowledge of these four huge retail trends into your franchise investment, you’ll be making yourself as prepared as you possibly can be. You’ll be fully equipped to understand and navigate your new industry, even without prior experience. Here are those all-important trends…
1. Escalating ecommerce
Ecommerce has become a much more widely-offered service among retailers in 2021, in part due to necessity and in part due to evidence that consumer demands and habits are changing, and they won’t be going ‘back to normal’ anytime soon - if ever. There are several key reasons to consider offering online sales options, and it’s something you should definitely discuss with your franchisor if you choose to invest in a network that doesn’t. Online sales can:
- Ensure profit continues to be made
- Reduce operational costs
- Discover a new audience/customer base
- Provide new and helpful options to existing, loyal customers
- Make your business more versatile (and able to withstand any future events similar to the COVID-19 pandemic)
2. A continued emphasis on health and hygiene
Many members of the UK public have become more aware, thanks to the pandemic, of germs and health and safety. For every customer to feel safe and cared for in-store, retail franchises in 2021 are placing a continued emphasis on health and hygiene, keeping things like sanitisation stations in place. After all, COVID isn’t the only illness out there, and even when its impact has fully receded, a clean shopping experience is likely to remain the preference.
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3. Omnichannel offerings
Omni-channel retail (or omnichannel commerce) is a multichannel approach to sales that focuses on providing seamless customer experience whether the client is shopping online from a mobile device, a laptop, or in a brick-and-mortar store.
- Tessa Roberts, Bloomreach
As has been briefly mentioned, COVID-19 has fast tracked the path to innovation for many UK retail companies and franchise networks. More businesses than ever are providing customers with offerings across any and all channels, including app-based shopping options, online ordering options, local delivery options, and click-and-collect options. The focus is on streamlining and improving the customer experience, whether that customer is at home on the sofa, or in the midst of your retail space.
4. An increased focus on sustainability
Attentiveness to sustainability has increased among the UK public during the pandemic. 70% of those surveyed by Boston Consulting Group said that they were more aware, post-COVID, of the fact that human activity threatens the climate. There are many different ways to make your retail franchise more sustainable, and if you want to stay connected with your customers in 2021 (and help to protect the planet, of course), you should strongly consider:
- Using renewable energy suppliers
- Sourcing products locally wherever possible
- Encouraging green transportation
- Providing reusable equipment and items wherever possible
- Recycling old technology
- Partnering with sustainability experts
- Being transparent about your environmental practices (and ways that you’re improving) with your customers
With the latest retail trends in mind, you can thrive running a franchise in the sector
You should now feel that little bit more equipped to enter the bustling retail industry with confidence. Now it’s time for you to find your niche, start your franchising adventure and never look back. What’s more up your street – truffle franchise Signorini Tartufi, furniture franchise Gautier, or post shop franchise Post & Packing?
Cara Squires, Point Franchise ©