“Buying behaviour has become a ‘blended experience’ incorporating in-store and online – the technology needed to support this change already exists”

Steve Waller, former retail owner and co-founder of new hybrid retail system Retailable, discusses the importance of technology in the indie sector…

What do you think the future holds for retail?

I anticipate that retail will change – but not to the extent of being exclusively online. People are spending more time at home and local retailers offer an escape from the home environment. I think that we will see a more ‘blended experience’ emerging. Retailers are communicating directly with their customers, allowing for a more personalised shopping experience. Appointments and one-to-one sessions are offering customers some retail therapy, while helping them remain safe and try before they buy. Click-and-collect, real-time stock availability notices and customer knowledge will ensure indies can stay ahead in this precarious marketplace.         

How has retail changed in the past year and how is technology helping boutiques engage their customers? 

When the pandemic hit, fashion retailers were seemingly huge victims. However, what we actually saw was just a change in buying behaviour. Online sales increased and smaller retail boutiques, when allowed to re-open, became more popular. The buying behaviour became a more ‘blended experience’ incorporating in-store and online. The technology needed to support this change already exists. Data gathering and customer insight has become key to boutique retailers, enabling them to market the right products to the right customers at the right time. They are now engaging with their customers to achieve loyalty, cross selling and up selling across multi channel platforms. Meanwhile, facilities such as click-and-collect, direct marketing, and reward schemes have enabled many indies to engage with shoppers and offer a more personalised service.

How can Retailable help fashion indies grow their businesses?

At present, Retailable is focussing on its new and existing independent retail clients’ sales channels to ensure that each is maximising their exposure. Following on from this we anticipate growth in the independent retail sector and the Retailable system is perfect for expansion. It is modular in its design and clients can pick and choose the tools they require. At entry level, Retailable gives clients a hybrid EPoS solution at a monthly contract-free price. As the clients grow, we can offer support with bolt-on tools for customer relationship management, logistics handling, stock optimisation and direct marketing.

How is it helping retailers in the second national lockdown?

Every retailer is now focussed on ensuring they can still continue to sell. A Hybrid (cross platform) POS system will ensure that a traditional bricks-and-mortar service can be replicated across all channels. The retailer’s brand needs to be identifiable and located by shoppers quickly and easily. We partner with an online marketing agency to maximise each client’s exposure. The customer service expectation has to be fulfilled and the stock availability has to be live. Our system enables all of these aspects to be completely managed, ensuring that whether a customer buys in-store or online, our retailers can offer the same service.

What makes your software and services stand out?

It is our presence within the independent retail sector that makes us stand out. We work closely with our clients to ensure a quick hassle free switch to our system. The team works hard to become part of our client’s workforce, always available and on hand to assist and advise. We pride ourselves in being part of the UK’s independent retail community, not just another software house. Our experience within the sector means that we are often called upon for advice and retail knowledge too.

How can fashion indies ensure they’re ahead of the game?

Effective stock management tools and logistics integration are also high on the retailer’s wish list. We are seeing the unique selling points of our Hybrid solution becoming the essential tools to ensure that whichever platform customers buy from – in store, from a website, marketplace or on social media – the stock location is identified, transferred and dispatched in real time. Order fulfillment is an independent retailer’s top priority together with engaging with their customers to achieve loyalty so they can stay ahead of the game.

CONTACT: Tel: 01243 533 737 Retail-able.co.uk