Attention National Retailers and Services: Look and Learn from the Independents to Thrive

July 8, 20208min

National and international brands need to learn key lessons from the independents and work with them to create sustainable and vibrant high street futures. 

Let’s discuss this in detail.

A moment of flux 

Throughout lockdown, local independents continued to demonstrate their place in the spotlight, quietly taking on new roles to keep their businesses afloat and communities’ needs met. Florists became green-grocers, pubs became distribution hubs and bakers have been selling street to street like ice-cream vans. These independents aren’t winging it blindly, their confidence to step out of old norms and into the unknown is due to the rooted relationships they’ve been building with locals over the years. 

We’ve carried out a study to find what consumers want brands to focus on across retail, grocery and the restaurant sectors. The results show that consumers want businesses to double down on socio-environmental issues. While these behaviours are often second nature for local independents, our national retailers and services need to refocus their brand strategies and be more local than ever before.  

So how can big nationals think and act like, and with, locals? 

A new collaborative choreography of people and place 

It used to be so easy. With a vague plan in mind, shoppers ambled from shop to shop, café to courtyard and mixed it up.

These days, with new COVID (1 metre plus) queues and limited service-environments, the role of open data to way-find through this new normal is clear.

For example, cities such as Bath implement an open data strategy that aggregates data from the point of sale, social media, GPS, phone reception, wi-fi and footfall. Taking a data-by-design first approach, retailers and public-private initiatives should supercharge local understanding.

It would also support collaboration to innovate, generate shared use of space, create complimentary high street customer experience strategies and find new ways of fluid contracting for leased units.  

Relationships matter 

Brands have spent vast sums of money fine-tuning their digital relationships with customers, offering up hyper-personalised shop windows. Though with large, often-transient staff-bases, it’s hard for nationals to mimic the long-term friendships between local boutiques and their regulars.

However, with a mix of investment in digital capability and staff-wellbeing, similar conditions can be achieved. Forty-eight percent of customers want businesses to invest in their staff, who in turn would feel more connected, fulfilled and rewarded, and therefore be more present to customers’ needs.

Pair the same reinvigorated staff with the next generation of live-instore digital intelligence – quickly understanding who a customer is and what they need – and you’ve got a chance to form deeper, short term, in-person customer relationships. 

Devolution of brand, engagement and operational strategy 

Nationals must create new suites of capabilities, including new permissions to help local managers engage their communities and understand how to reflect local cultural norms and needs. New toolkits for engagement and outreach, supported by appropriate open data-sets, will help local managers and staff promote central brand identities. At the same time it will allow localised adaptations to operations and propositions to mirror the uniqueness of their locality be implemented.  

The bigger-connected picture 

From transportation to queues, and click and collect to interactions with shop assistants, it has never been more important to understand how to make these processes both efficient and enjoyable. The high-street, as an interconnected space of disparate customer experiences, needs to zoom out, map ‘frenemies’ and joint ventures, and use place-based design to join up the overall shopping experience. Recently, the likes of Sainsbury’s have teamed up with Argos and Habitat to offer customers a chance to cover all their shopping needs under one roof creating a seamless experience.

Adaptive & collaborative high street design 

If not before, now is the time for large retailers and services to adopt a fail-often-to-succeed-sooner, design-led approach. And building new partnerships with independents will enable sustainable strategies.

Local independents need trusted nationals to thrive on the high street as much as nationals need more leftfield independent businesses to bring diversity and edgier offers. Working alongside one another to sustain residency on the high street, while sustaining differentiated slices of the market. 

Data-driven design-thinking has increasingly been the go-to for digital transformation over the last decade. This insightful, iterative, lean approach to change and innovation can help nationals test and prototype new, local initiatives with relatively featherlight investment.  With data-in-hand, local participatory design can imagine new uses for spaces, new community events and fresh commercial propositions. For example, testing investment in local and community supply chains or understanding how to create shopping experiences that stretch across service and retail outlets. Both big brands and local independents are both up for something much more collaborative and connected.

Sustainable high street strategies 

In our moment of flux, a new era of adaptive high streets, built on co-created visions and brought to life by the people who live and work there are in sight. These future streets are data-fuelled and people-powered to challenge the immediacy and convenience of online, offering up community-connection craved by many. These future strategies celebrate not just what sit on the insides of retail and service units, but the collaborative spaces that host many opportunities too.  

We are returning to our high streets and can re-define our relationship with the outside world. This is our moment to co-create high streets fit for a very different fine-tuned future. 

David Singer

David Singer

David Singer is Principal Service Designer at Engine Transformation.

Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



UK Trademark UK00002648900

EUIPO Trademark 018131832

Contact Information

For article submissions:
Paul Ainsworth

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
Tel: 0207 1932 428

For Masterclass enquiries:
Tel: +44 20 86385584

Customer Experience Magazine Limited
Company number: 12450532
International House, 24 Holborn Viaduct,
United Kingdom, London, England, EC1A 2BN


Find a job in customer support with Jobsora


vape: select vape battery uwell crown 3 tank coils rta vape meaning vaporizers e cigarette jool vape smoke rainbow six mech mod vape kit matys vapor rub vape box mod with tank is vaping better for your lungs vape n mods mvp battery ecig yellow vape batteries kratom vape juice review super vape z vaporizer explosions vape station mcallen 18650 vape twist vapor famous people who vape nh3 vapor pressure mechanical box mod clone nike vapor power training backpack cereal carts wax ecig mod guy vapes tide pod banana cream pie vape juice e cigarette temperature non diacetyl vape juice vaping usa marijuana e cigarette vaping truclear e cigarette wholesale canada vip e cigarette store locator tfv8 baby t6 coils smok firmware alien low pro dripper rda smok cube ii uwell crown tank nickel coils glass vapor genie top e cigs 2015 xplicit vape smok em vaporesso ceramic ccell replacement coils smok alien 220w wrap vuze vapor coupon smok x2 vapor shark bird road

male enhancement: gabapentin and erectile dysfunction legitimate viagra online longest boner nuvirile male enhancement pills whats better cialis or viagra antihistamine erectile dysfunction pennis enlargement equipment real penile enlargement results penis exercise routine whats good for sex how to measure penile size with hand viagra and nitrates how to have a bigger erection forza vip zinc increases testosterone zero sex drive best multivitamins for men 2020 blue pill a 17 bluechew login male enhancement at vitamin shoppe the rock supplements mens health when does viagra become generic 3325 pill viagra benefits is it worth it can you work it medication that cause depression will work for sex dick definition essential oils for ed male sex supplements review herbal stimulants blue chew review better erectile function how to produce more semen biggest erected penis obesity quizlet can you have sex with a hernia will viagra make you last longer no sexuality viagra time to work blue yellow purple pill best sex for men firmer erections average american pennis size does testosterone make you lose weight average dick size chart boosted animals ways to improve sex drive

weight loss: it works weight loss weight loss waist trainer glucerna for weight loss 45 weight loss clinic apex weight loss weight loss surgery in mexico miralax colon cleanse weight loss how to find weight loss percentage weight loss and diabetes type 2 weight loss patches weight loss clinic san antonio tx food diet for weight loss balloon pill for weight loss folic acid benefits weight loss 30 10 weight loss tacoma weight loss detox water recipes jimmy carr weight loss alli diet pills buy weight loss sleep skinny fibre diet pills adderall weight loss results viibryd side effects weight loss does chantix cause weight loss 30 10 weight loss for life recipes weight loss wraps reviews best weight loss podcasts lee syatt weight loss super h d diet pills prozac and phentermine for weight loss infinite possibilities weight loss best diet pills for diabetes type 2 time restricted eating weight loss benzedrine diet pills phenylalanine diet pills diet pills models use 30 10 weight loss reviews vata diet for weight loss do any diet pills work weight loss diabetes diet otc diet pills that work fast 1700 calorie diet weight loss weight loss and adderall best workout pills all vegetable diet weight loss bhb keto pills cottage cheese weight loss is boost keto friendly weight loss stress

cbd oil: how to use cbd oil reproduction diseases cbd and driving smok alien issues cbd and thc gummies cannabinoid vape is cbd oil a hoax modern 5c humans selling cbd products in california how does cbd oil help with pain cbd availability wholesale cbd massage oil endosport cbd cbd oil pikeville ky can cbd help with dementia find my history critical role synopsis cbd in the army definition of full cbd thc mix benefit near me what kind of cigarettes does post malone smoke medicinal marijuana products selling plasma phoenix properties of oil selective toxicity refers to damage to paper mate phd multi dea cbd schedule 1 body spray system best cbd capsules for anxiety dont eat that bad marijuanas hemp oil cancer cures a bloody good vaping buy cbd cream online pain 100 review decarb cbd flower reddit the only news i know nevada cbd laws does cbd oil help you loose weight look up pill by imprint code can you take cbd oil and 5 htp together what and what herpes and cbd oil cbd mints cbd oil food ingredients suzies cbd drops reviews cbd oil low blood sugar where to buy swell cbd oil