Key learnings for Main Streets

I was privileged to present at the Mainstreet Conference a fortnight ago with presenters who made some great points.

My presentation began with some sobering statistics. Australia spends about 54% more online per person than the US, the highest in the world. The reason was the dissatisfaction with the physical shopping experiences in terms of service, price and visual merchandising. But, this also represents great opportunities.

Kevin Luten from Behaviour Design Works talked about change – changing attitudes and behaviours. It’s so relevant to retailers at the moment. There’s some negative sentiment around that, if it continues to grow, it won’t matter what innovative and new approaches retailers try, they will have lost people.

His approach is to allow people to see, feel, act. See what they need to do, connect with their emotions, which leads to action. Bricks and mortar retailers, and precincts, have a perfect opportunity to affect this – show consumers the advantages of shopping in store, provide a service that responds to emotions and make it easy to act. Simple! Sounds like it but of course it’s not. Need a fresh pair of eyes on your strategy? We are here to help.

The other point that Joe Manton from the Institute of Access Training Australia made was about access. Is your strip a great place for the elderly, the blind, parents, teenagers, basically any sort of demographic group (and anyone wanting to use a clean safe toilet!)? As a member of the audience pointed out to much nodding of heads – access issues should just be about helping those with a disability (which is of course an important and necessary aim), they should just be standard practice because they help everyone. Indeed.

There are a couple of points from my presentation I want to stress:

  1. Creating an emotional connection can be achieved through storytelling – how you, your products or your area came to be, continue to grow, support the local community or provide a valuable service and why. For those watching ‘The Voice’, have you noticed that the ones Australia is voting for have been telling the stories of who they are, hardships they’ve overcome etc. It connects with people, creating great TV in the process! How can you tell your story to your customers?
  2. To move people into changing their shopping habits, you need a story people can believe in. Talking about shopping locally and the impact that has on the whole community is a movement that people want to support. Here’s the video I showed that conveys that. And there’s more examples on our Facebook page if you want to like us.

It’s challenging times. But there are opportunities to make a real impact.

What are the major challenges in your area and how are you fixing them? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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