This week’s news that more of the UK high street has succumbed to the pressures of modern retailing demonstrates the scale of the challenge many are facing as they look to re-invent themselves.

The question of relevance should be front and centre – what problem are you solving for your customers and what is the solution you are offering them?

Was a big box all-under-one-roof out-of-town solution addressing a problem that today’s toy shopper has?

In a similar vein, did a high-street electronics retailer with a lack of differentiating USP (unique selling point) and arguably non-competitive prices stand a chance against today’s online giants?

Many of yesterday’s high-street centred customer problems were based around range, price and location:

  1. Is there a decent range to choose from?
  2. Is it available at a reasonable enough price to offset the effort to go into other stores and compare?
  3. Is the item I want available at the location I’m going to?

Multichannel retail has offered plenty of solutions to these problems, with the ability to search an endless assortment of products, compare prices at the touch of a screen, and order for delivery to pretty much anywhere you might want. Today, competing on price, assortment and delivery options puts you in the ring with the likes of Amazon and eBay – not a nice place to be.

So what can retailers do? Look for other variables to compete on, such as brand, service and innovation. By changing the game and looking to solve different problems there are opportunities for retailers to re-invent themselves:

  1. What does this brand say about me?
  2. Is the level of service I receive worth paying more for?
  3. Is this an experience that I’m willing to invest my time and money in?

As range, price and location become hygiene factors, the questions above become more relevant to the problems today’s customers are looking to solve.

Tomorrow’s battles need to be fought on different terms if retailers are set to survive – starting with asking the tough question – how relevant are we?