"The retail landscape is evolving at an incredible pace with huge changes in the way that consumers are now shopping. The move online continues to affect the high street at an increasing rate."
Tom Smith, Forbes Solicitors
Back in August the shocking news that Mike Ashley's Sports Direct agreed to buy the House of Fraser department store chain for £90m hit headlines and the demise of Debenhams is dominating the news currently.
Unfortunately, these are not stand-alone cases, and with more and more retail businesses struggling to stay afloat, Forbes Solicitors have identified SMEs must be very careful when handling their cash flow and navigating the retail space – especially in the run-up to Black Friday and the January sales.
To stay afloat, SMEs need to keep on top of their unpaid invoices, bringing in professional debt collectors if necessary, take advantage of new technologies on offer to make the sales process as easy as possible for their customers and, finally, find their niche and offer customers something that others don’t.
Tom Smith, Partner & Head of Dispute Resolution at Forbes Solicitors said, “ The retail landscape is evolving at an incredible pace with huge changes in the way that consumers are now shopping. The move online continues to affect the high street at an increasing rate, with a number of big, traditional retailers falling by the wayside, having failed to innovate or diversify.
From our point of view as debt recovery specialists, we see the effect of the retail problems on our client base of suppliers, service providers and landlords to the retail sector. As such, the effect of the failure or struggles of the large high street brands has a direct effect on our clients’ business. At Forbes, we work with those clients to try to avoid being left with bad debt and minimise the impact of customers in financial difficulties.”
So, what can SMEs take from this? Well, there are three key points all CEOs should be mindful of:
· The importance of cash flow
· The importance of innovation
· The importance of customer service
Speaking about the current retail climate in 2018 and how SME’s can evolve, retail journalist, Karen Peattie explained: “Yes, our high streets are struggling. But look beneath these headlines and you’ll see an evolving retail sector where SMEs are turning to technology to help shape their future and, at the same time, going back to basics by offering the best possible customer service. And if they can find their niche and provide a point of difference that their competitors don’t or can’t, they’ve got a sure recipe for success.
Go into pretty much any convenience store today and you’ll find a modern shopping environment along with food to go, fresh foods, a decent bottle of wine, artisan and craft beers, contactless payment facilities and possibly a post office too. Many offer services such as dry cleaning, click and collect, home delivery, wine-tasting evenings – the list goes on.”
To find out more about Forbes Solicitors and their debt recovery services, head over to the Forbes Collect site.