Embracing new technology and maintaining impeccable customer service standards are the key to future success for indies, according to speakers at last week’s British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) conference.
The one-day event, which featured speakers from both inside and outside the fashion sector, offered ideas and inspiration for retailers in a tough trading climate.
The scene for the day was set by British Retail Consortium (BRC) director-general Stephen Robertson, who told delegates: “Non-food retail is a very tough neck of the woods to be in at the moment, and there is worse to come in the first half of this year. Although my opinion is that we will see consumer confidence returning in the second half.”
Robertson cited new BRC figures showing a year-on-year trebling of the number of shoppers using mobile phones to research purchases. He advised indies to consider mobile-friendly versions of their websites to tap into this market.
Another top priority for indies should be improving customer service, according to another speaker, Jane Leadbetter, former head of training at Harrods.
Leadbetter told the audience they had to lead by example. “You are at the top and that means you have to set the standard for the behaviour of your team,” she said, adding it was vital that staff feel empowered to make customer-friendly decisions and think on their feet.