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The rise of hybridisation

The challenges faced by the retail industry, largely during the recession have created a cause for change. As is often the case, adversity has led to innovation. London convenience stores in particular have responded with a surge of new ideas to win back customer loyalty, increase productivity and strengthen market position.

Cue the rise of hybridisation….

The IGD defines this as: ‘The collaboration of retailers in an attempt to alter their perceived identity, to keep up with the markets ever changing needs.’ No retailer is an island. More and more retail businesses are happily collaborating on new concepts and hybridising brands are changing the face of retail.

Raising the bar on the consumer experience.

Let’s head to an old iconic cinema in East London, Hackney. It combines a SPAR convenience store, a restaurant and a burger bar. So, instead of just popping in and out for their staples (still the primary shopper mission according to the IGD) customers, can also grab a burger with friends, or stay even longer for a meal in the restaurant. A quick fly through on the way home from work has evolved into a destination experience.

Raising the bar on quality.

Convenience stores are finding ever more inventive ways to create that point of difference to attract customers. ‘Simply Fresh’ in Bethnal Green has become a destination store for its surrounding local community. As well as it’s locally sourced fresh produce, it has teamed up with a local wine merchant to offer ‘wine refills’. The wine changes with the seasons and consumers can’t wait to try the exciting new wines on offer.

Raising the bar on inspiration.

Now, what’s for dinner? We’ve all been there. You can see the product but can’t seem to find the inspiration. Some forward thinking convenience stores have started ‘mission based ranging’, which can be something as simple as putting certain cheeses next to complementary wine, or a tomato juice and Tabasco by the vodka. With 74% of convenience store shoppers claiming to have purchased an unplanned item on their last trip, mission based ranging plants the ‘impulse buy’ seed. It saves the customer time and makes them feel like their wants and needs have been carefully considered.

Raising the bar on technology.

Today’s consumers don’t want to just shop, but to be heard. It’s crucial that retailers have an online presence as 72% of the population now have access to mobile broadband.* Social media plays a key role here. Launching a Facebook page or twitter account where customers can feedback, win competitions and find out about up and coming brand promotions, helps to personalise a business and create an emotional attachment to it. Consumers still want value. They’ve learnt savvy shopping techniques and often enjoy putting them in to practice. But there’s a lesson to be learned in the way convenience stores have embraced these hybridised techniques. Getting to know your customer is key. Give them something nobody else can. Offer quality products and in store ideas that inspire and enthuse. Look after your loyal customers and make them feel like they have a voice and they will spread the good word. It’s time to get up close and personal.