The fall and rise of local retailing, but will it last?

This scenario is happening all over the UK; companies that once relied on big contracts with schools, pubs, restaurants and events venues are switching to home delivery, while local shops are discovering that they can access their existing customers as well as new ones by consolidating orders and delivering either to the doorstep or to a single neighbourhood location.

Whilst it sounds like a renaissance for local retail, it is easy to predict that most of us will simply return to our old supermarket habits once the crisis is over and we no longer have to stand in a strange queue, two metres apart.

Now’s your chance

However, if local retailers can get their act together in terms of convenience, then there is no reason why they should not get their fair share of the business in the longer term. What will prevent this? In short, it is their inability or even unwillingness to embrace the technology and convenient processes that are business as usual for the supermarkets.

No shortage of tech for SMEs

Take Tesco. I can pay through the app and get my points added at the same time, or I can pay on line, or with a debit card, or credit card. Now my local greengrocer is not Tesco, but there is a wealth of small business tech out there that they can use that will get them closer to Tesco. Consumers will put up with the inconvenience of cash payments or bank transfers to local retailers in the current crisis, but they are already wondering why they cannot pay with a card through a mobile reader.

Tesco kills … if you let it

Local retail has its advantages, the very same advantages that chain retailers have invested in hard for many years to replicate – personal touch. I can ring my butcher, talk to the guy I already know, ask how much short rib I need to feed six people, get his advice on cooking times and add or subtract from my order as we are speaking. Tesco would kill to be able to be that responsive.

Grab the opportunity or lose it

Let’s hope then that local retailers do not let themselves and me down by reverting to their old ways, where I have to do most of the work. And to the convenience store that is part of a national Symbol group that will not let me pay by card unless I spend at least £5, shame on you. You won’t be seeing me again. Ever.

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