Retail is facing threats from all sides, especially from online competitors. Andrew Busby, a retail analyst and founder of Retail Reflections, says that to keep up, retail must get back to the basics — namely, deliver good old fashioned face-to-face retailing based on an intimate knowledge of the customer.

“To know your customer is to know your business,” writes Busby. The value of strong relationships between customers and staff is even more important in independent retailers, where customers are more like old friends.

“Knowing and looking after the customer with a laser focus on service” is important. Every retailer uses this language, but how many actually put it into practice each day? Online can never replace the deeply intimate human interaction that comes with physical, face-to-face contact. And while customer experience is great (online services do it well), creating an environment where store-goers feel valued, wanted and informed is even more important.

Retail is undergoing unprecedented changes in 2019. It is time to realize that getting back to the basics is key to survival.

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