Dale Broadhead looks back on a whirlwind 12 months for low-cost retailer Primark and considers what other brands could learn from the high street giant as they head into 2020…
“While the retail environment has continued to experience difficulties throughout 2019, Primark is one high street brand pressing ahead with new stores, growth plans and even a sustainable cotton initiative in the face of the industry’s fast fashion scrutiny.
So, while every retail story is different – and this differential has in fact helped Primark thrive despite economic turbulence – what can other retailers learn from this low-cost giant, as they plan their 2020 strategies?
A recent article in The Guardian made for extremely interesting reading, validating the fact that the tills are still ringing, irrespective of what headlines elsewhere report about consumer spending. And having earned the title of “selling more items of clothing than any other retailer”, it’s perhaps no surprise that it opened four new stores this year, including the world’s biggest Primark in Birmingham.
Yes, sales in established stores are said to have dipped 1% (in the year to September 2019) but compared to the performance of some other retail chains, this slight drop suggests the brand has fared well overall.
The reason for such success is obvious, in the eyes of many – low prices.
But the unveiling of the 14,800 sqm Birmingham store back in the spring, once again emphasised the importance of consumer experience to achieve that all-important pull.
The five-floor building is clearly a destination where shoppers can practically enjoy a full day out. Alongside the rails of clothing and wider products sold by the retailer, consumers can also visit three food venues, a nail bar, hair studio, barbers, a Hogwarts Wizarding World and a Disney area. It has been reported that there are plans to roll such services out across other Primark stores too.
Of course, budget or footprint may limit the ability for other stores to follow suit in exactly the same way. But the underlying principle of what Primark has done here, should offer food for thought for some other retailers.
From the moment a consumer reaches the front door of a store, it is possible to create a wow factor that entices them inside. Eye catching window displays complete with illuminated graphics and other stand-out props can set the tone before the shopper has even set foot within.
Once inside, everything from the clever selection of music through to the use of dynamic high-definition imagery, integrated into product displays and complete with movement, can all help capture attention, establish the vibe and convey exactly what the brand is about.
The devil is in the detail – as the age-old saying goes – and sometimes the smallest of considerations can make a huge impact on the customer experience, without blowing the budget, requiring excessive amounts of space, or putting environmental credentials at risk.
Primark, as a brand, isn’t perfect – what company is? But the retailer has clearly thought about the in-store environment it provides for shoppers, and it will be interesting to see what comes next for them, in 2020 and beyond.”