Grocery Guru Episode 8: The Future of High Street with Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith

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Grocery Guru
Grocery Guru
Grocery Guru Episode 8: The Future of High Street with Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith
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The Future of High Street

Join Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith in the eighth episode of Grocery Guru: The Future of High Street.

Blurred image of people walking down a crowded high street
The future of high street

You Can Read the Full Future of High Street Episode Transcript Below:

Darren A. Smith:

… keeping their staff safe, understanding the rules, blah, blah, blah. You’re right. They’ve done it. Do you say they were cajoled into doing this?

Andrew Grant:

Who knows. Who knows the discussions I had. I think the important thing is that it’s been done and I guess that’s sort of the breaking news. So it almost links to what I was going to talk about today, which is they’re also having to, as we’ve said in a couple of the previous episodes of this, they’re having to deal with change to their market where 10 years of change has happened in six months. [crosstalk 00:00:00:38].

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah, yeah.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. And the costs involved in just coping with that must be immense.

Darren A. Smith:

And what does that mean? I mean, we’ve got the future of the High Street. I’m sure that’s well documented. And particularly we’ve got Debenhams, Arcadia recent. The future of our High Street, I mean, is it all going to be coffee shops and hairdressers?

Andrew Grant:

Well, it’s interesting. I think, unfortunately, you get the pain before the game. I saw over the weekend, Bill Grimsby, Bill Grimsey, I don’t even remember him, used to run Iceland and then Wix. Seasoned retail professional. Got a lot of time for the guys. A really good operator. I think he interviewed me once but didn’t give me the job. So anyway, not everyone’s perfect. But he basically was saying that people like himself spent the eighties and the nineties creating Lego brick towns where you can remember every single town was a copycat. There was a Boots, a WHSmiths. Also a Tesco. There was a Curry’s, there was a God going back, Timothy Wise, Radio Rentals, and every town was a carbon copy.

Darren A. Smith:

And I remember as a kid and then becoming an adult, you, you went from towns being very different. You’ve visited towns as a kid and you saw different things. And then as an adult, we went to towns and it was exactly the same damn thing in every town. But now that’s going to go completely off.

Andrew Grant:

That is the opportunity that supermarkets, as we said, they will be different. They’re not going to have deli counters. As we said, I think last week or the week before, these urban fulfilment centres where half of the store turns dark and the new Lego brick is online. So online is increasing, how do you differentiate online because you can offer everything online? So people love the convenience of online. They love the convenience of the van turning up outside the house, but it’s not exactly exciting, is it?

Darren A. Smith:

No, it’s not. I mean, one of the things that have happened is speed. You can now get something in about five hours of ordering it off some website.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah.

Darren A. Smith:

Some in 12 hours, 24. The days of taking 3 to 5 business days are gone. So that [inaudible 00:03:05].

Andrew Grant:

People want to touch and feel. They want to touch, feel, smell, experience stuff before they buy it. Particularly, maybe not necessarily food but certainly think of clothes. So how many times do you buy clothes and they don’t fit or they’re not quite what you expected. People will still want shops.

Darren A. Smith:

The returns policy comes in and it has to be absolutely open. Free delivery, free try on, send back whatever you don’t want I’ll put the money in your account before it arrives to us.

Andrew Grant:

Which is where Amazon, whether you love them or don’t love them, absolutely brilliant. But anyway, I’ve got a quiz for you. I’ve got a quiz for you, Darren. So future of the High Street, there has been research done in terms of what will encourage people into stores if there aren’t any deli counters, the grocery becomes part of the dark store, what sort of services and things do people want to see in stores? So let’s see how close you get to these top three. Number one 42% of people said that they would want to see one of these in-store and would actively seek out a store that had one.

Darren A. Smith:

A product expo.

Andrew Grant:

No, it’s a service.

Darren A. Smith:

Okay, service. A party planner.

Andrew Grant:

No, no, no. A pharmacy with a qualified pharmacist on site. And it’s interesting the order of these, because I think my order might be slightly different. So number one, very sensibly of the good old British public pharmacy. Number two at 35% of people said that they would actively shop in a place that’s provided with this.

Darren A. Smith:

A dry cleaners.

Andrew Grant:

No.

Darren A. Smith:

Okay. I’m thinking of a Timpson’s key cutting type place.

Andrew Grant:

No. A bit more of, a bit more of a basic need. I don’t mean install toilets.

Darren A. Smith:

No, I’ve no idea.

Andrew Grant:

Food, hot food on site. So a restaurant or a cafe or whatever.

Darren A. Smith:

Oh, okay.

Andrew Grant:

And this is the one that I found most interesting. So I think I’ll put that at number one. 29% of people said that they would actively shop in a store that provided?

Darren A. Smith:

Personal shopping.

Andrew Grant:
Alcohol.
Darren A. Smith:

Oh okay.

Andrew Grant:

Now one of the surveys was done on proper demographic grounds. And whether the mix between the sexes was properly filtered out. I don’t know. But yeah, the third most popular in-store request was alcohol on site.

Darren A. Smith:

Oh, okay. Okay. All right. All right. Because I’m thinking of one of the things that was really popular was Jessup’s. Now those poor sods were doing a cracking job providing all of the knowledge, then the customer would leave the shop go and find them on Amazon.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. And that is the problem, isn’t it? That this future that becomes experiential, I think is the word experiential shopping, the danger is people go, and I think PC World is suffering from this. Yeah. People go and look, feel, touch, decide which fridge freezer will fit in their kitchen. And then order it from Amazon or appliances online.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah. They’re just aren’t going to survive. Not doing that. They need something more, don’t they? Yeah.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. And let’s take it back to the grocers where I think the grocers are doing a very good job. If you look at the Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s or Waitrose’s of this world, they’re adding all these really phenomenal, new, sexy boutique products and brands that you can’t get online. You can’t get in Aldi. But stuff, if you’re an enthusiastic cook or you’d like to come up with recipes at the weekend, et cetera, the stuff that now people like, I guess Waitrose have always done it, but Tesco and Sainsbury’s really jumping into that space so that people have a reason to go there to experience great food. Although it may be a bit gloomy at the moment with stores shutting. I think the future, as Bill Grimsey said is actually, we’re going to get a very diverse, very much more choice and we’ll move away from these identikit towns, which I think is a good thing.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah, I do. So maybe there’s a positive to come out in this damn COVID.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. And with all the news this week with the vaccine, maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. And as you do travel round, there are already towns that maybe are the model. Froome in Somerset has got so many independent artisan shops and particularly food shops, but it’s become a magnet of its own. There’s a town in Wales that does exactly the same thing. So if our local high streets can look more like a Froome, bring it on I’d say,

Darren A. Smith:

Well, I know in my hometown which is Thame in Oxfordshire, there was a Domino’s around. Yes. Yeah. Because we were trying to keep that balance between the independence, the quaint British town, market town. And yet we’ve got to bring in some of these brands that can pay the rent.

Andrew Grant:

Absolutely. So anyway, I’m back off shopping. I may even pop in to see if the 29% of people were right in their choice.

Darren A. Smith:

And something for our viewers is if you’re a national account manager and you were thinking about the future of what you need to do, then e-commerce category management is something you definitely need to start understanding how you shop and navigate some menus, ordering promotions, abandoned costs, as the Americans would say. We’re getting a lot of inquiries about this stuff for the moment.

Andrew Grant:

And if you tune in next week, we’re going to talk about the ghost of Christmas future, aren’t we?

Darren A. Smith:

Oh yes, we are.

Andrew Grant:

Yes. So we’re going to talk about the future of national account managers and how, again, a bit like the High Street, there’s big, big rosy opportunities in the future if people change, but goes the Christmas present if you stay as you are. Maybe time for a new year resolution.

Darren A. Smith:

Okay. Yep. All right. Looking forward to that Andrew. We will talk to you next week either from your car or back at home? We’ll see you then.

Andrew Grant:

Take care. Bye-bye.


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