Brexit has been sending chills down the spine of businesses ever since the UK decided to part ways with the European Union. With so much uncertainty surrounding the industry, it is hard to understand the real consequences of Brexit before the changes take place.
The main question is simple: what does the retail industry look like post-Brexit? As an independent retailer, it is important to establish a plan, so here are three ways to help get through the possible perils of the UK’s exit from Europe.
1 Build upon your online presence
UK-based online retailers will be able to sell a lot more goods abroad priced in sterling, as their prices are much cheaper now compared with rivals overseas. So it is beneficial to analyse what this new freedom will mean in the context of Brexit. Retailers will need to find new ways to drive sales in their existing EU markets, as well as explore new alternatives.
UK online retailers have the capacity to meet the challenges ahead because they can also provide a broad range of brands that cannot be purchased elsewhere. Such innovation will prove vital at a time when there is a strain on trading.
Unless you are able to adopt smarter payment methods to drive conversion and target new cross-border markets, it will be harder to build on your brand’s audience once the dust settles. Your options include: internationally recognised payment service providers such as MasterCard and Visa; ISPS, which are a convenient way for small-to-medium-sized businesses to accept payments; and online e-wallet providers such as PayPal. All options present a more efficient to sell post-Brexit.
2 Invest in your workforce
With the exodus of the EU-strong retail workforce, it is important to quantify how staff numbers will be affected by Brexit, as you may begin to lose access to workers from certain areas of the EU. Do your research to identify the future shape of the landscape to ensure you have a future-proof workforce.
A more robust method of managing the potential shortage of UK-based workers in retail is to attract more Brits to work.
UK citizens provide the security of employability at a time where Brexit threatens the industry with huge shortfalls in staff numbers. There are many sectors to source this workforce from – the unemployed, the economically inactive and workers from other UK sectors that might consider roles in retail.
This could prove fundamental to all independent retailers while you still have employees at your disposal. Providing training and employment programmes incentivises both current and prospective workers, and is just one of the many tools that can help attract talent for your workforce in the form of store managers, merchandisers and shop assistants – something that could help the success of your workforce.
3 Stay ahead of the game
It is important for you as an independent retailer to identify how to position your business to capture opportunities arising from the disruption caused by Brexit. Staying on top of market trends are key to understanding how others adapt to industry changes, so keep an eye on the measures employed by larger brands, industry leaders and competitors to tackle post-Brexit retailing.
Small-and-medium-sized retailers have been the industry’s success story, and can use their flexible approach to strategy to carve out a gap in the market once we have established the true extent of Brexit.
Brexit does not spell the demise of the retail industry. It is beneficial to the economy that, once the plans for Brexit have been laid out, regulations mimic the laws that were initially set to encourage similar levels of e-commerce that our boost the economy.
The question is not so much what does the retail industry look like post-Brexit, but what you can do to alleviate the potential changes to the industry.
So take time to plan and also consider the impact of Brexit in its entirety: finances, interest rates, product regulation, supply chain, suppliers, stakeholders and, of course, your customers.
Dax Dasilva is the founder and CEO of Lightspeed. Founded in 2005, Lightspeed develops a cloud-based ecommerce platform used by more than 50,000 independent retailers, restaurants and ecommerce merchants worldwide to better manage their businesses and processes more than £12bn in transactions annually.