High street retail remains on top in the UK, with the country’s 300,000 outlets competing with many more online shops to take around 80% of annual sales. Running a physical retail store is no easy undertaking, however, and whilst you can easily update a website by adjusting a few lines of code it is nowhere near as simple to keep up with shop maintenance.
With the coronavirus pandemic leaving businesses scrambling to put social distancing measures in place, shopkeepers are finding that now more than ever their premises could do with an update. For shops though, maintenance doesn’t just mean keeping the place in good working order. Unlike residential buildings, retail premises must be continually updated to reflect consumer trends and to exhibit stock in the most flattering light possible.
With the average cost of shopfitting running into many thousands of pounds, some business owners might be tempted to put off maintenance and improvements. Expensive projects are hardly in favour during these trying times – but could upgrading your business premises pay off in the long run?
Taking pride in your premises
Having a clean, tidy and well-kept shop is absolutely essential to attracting customers and making sales. In fact, research conducted by Statista shows that cramped untidy shops are the main reason for avoiding high street retail for an estimated 35% of the UK’s public.
Regardless of what you’re selling, keeping your premises in shipshape condition is something that customers will take for granted. Dark, dingy and poorly maintained shops are simply less likely to attract custom and won’t perform in the same way as a well-kept retail space that welcomes customers and encourages them to spend time browsing. It doesn’t have to be hard, as simply investing time in cleaning whilst ensuring that your fixtures and fittings are not broken will go a long way impressing your target demographic.
It’s also important to recognise that at a time when the public are clearly worried about the potential health consequences of getting out and about, only those shops that can demonstrate a commitment to hygiene are likely to thrive. Implementing social distancing guidelines and conducting a deep clean of any contact areas are both important parts of reassuring customers that it is safe to shop. Spending of any kind might not be high on the priority list of retailers right now, but cleanliness is a non-negotiable aspect of keeping both consumers and staff safe.
Engage with customers at every opportunity
Implementing social distancing measures is one thing, but letting your customers know what you’re doing and why can be just as important. Signage is a staple of the retail environment but now more than ever it can facilitate communications between staff and customers whilst directing them to the products that they need. Whether it’s “keep your distance” reminders, queue spacing markers or promotional materials encouraging shoppers to buy your best goods, having clear and engaging signs around your premises shows customers that you care.
Beyond this, updating your promotional materials can help to show clients that your business is alive and kicking at a time when many retailers are shutting up shop. Ignoring the attraction of low-cost sales, the public want to know that they will be able to return goods they have bought if necessary in the future and be certain that you’re selling quality products. Updating your informational decorations could be just the ticket to reassuring customers that they can place their trust in your establishment.
Supporting sales with style
Retail upgrades needn’t be confined to practical measures, either. Style is just as important as substance in many shopping environments and products are more likely to sell if they’re showcased in the best possible light. Whilst it’s the products that your customers are there for, the atmosphere of a shop is a major factor in getting them to return.
In the same Statista study mentioned earlier, over 10% of respondents said they were put off shopping by ugly displays – showing just how important visual merchandising can be. There are lots of steps you can take to make your shop look better, and so exploring and experimenting with different ideas and styles could be the order of the day. Whether you choose to upcycle old furniture to use as stock displays, invest in some new decoration or change your lighting provision, giving your shop a fresh look could be just the ticket to boosting your conversion figures and better enabling your staff to upsell.
Finding the money for maintenance
Making changes or upgrades to shop premises is something that’s on the wish list of many business owners. Whilst it never hurts to be aspirational, the fact of the matter is that many retailers can ill afford to spend out at this time.
Bank loans, mortgage charges and other forms of finance are all possible, but business owners should know that there are other options available. One such alternative is offered in the form of a cash advance by merchant services provider UTP. Available to businesses with existing merchant services facilities and an average monthly throughput of over £3500, a cash advance could allow retailers to access up to £150,000 with no settlement deadlines and repayments simply made as your shop continues to earn.
With economic conditions as they are and the coronavirus pandemic doing nothing to help, a flexible cash advance offered seamlessly from your merchant services provider could help you to join hundreds of other businesses in refurbishing your premises or upgrading your retail offering.
Investing in your bottom line
With difficult trading conditions across the majority of the retail sector, shopkeepers could be forgiven for thinking that now is not the time to invest in their infrastructure. Despite this, the commercial world continues to turn, and money spent now could pay off in your profits in the months and years to come.
By relying on a quick-to-access cash advance, and with an unwavering commitment to improving your premises, you too could upgrade your retail space.