‘Must-buy’ isn’t enough. Today’s retailers need to corner the ‘must-visit’ too. That’s why we’re encouraging our shoppers to get on their bikes
Richard Lim, the chief executive of Retail Economics has said that offering an ‘experience’ in retail is broadly doing “what Amazon can’t do.”
Contrary to popular belief – there’s lots of things that fall into this category. While bricks and mortar retail may struggle to compete in areas such as choice and convenience, there are still some areas where it still has an undeniable edge. The internet can’t, for example, facilitate testing the ‘relaxability’ of a new settee, give you a makeover or offer personal – really personal – shopping.
Another thing it can’t do is let you test out a new bike or how good you’re likely to be at riding it. That’s one of many reasons our recently launched Boardman Bikes Performance Centre is proving so popular at our retail and leisure destination The Valley, Evesham.
As the name suggests, the 18,000 sq. ft. centre is the brainchild of Olympic gold-medallist Chris Boardman MBE. The first centre of its kind in the UK, its target audience is pretty much anything on two wheels. It attracts everyone from hopefuls agitating for a place on Team GB, to the cycle-to-work crowd and weekend hobbyists.
The centrepiece is a wind tunnel where cycling enthusiasts can test their aerodynamic performance. There are also a number of experts on hand to offer a range of services such as function and health tests, bike-fitting and positional biomechanics assessment. And – of course – there’s also an extensive range of Boardman Bikes’ cycles and accessories to choose from.
The centre is a game-changer because it’s the first of its kind to enable the UK’s 7.6 million amateur cyclists to access this level of expertise and insight, formerly the preserve only of elite cyclists and teams.
With The Valley set on the edge of the Cotswolds, already a magnet for cyclists from all over the UK, the addition of Boardman Bikes further strengthens our already very strong ‘experience’ factor. We’ve revitalised our retail offering by strengthening the areas where we have a clear competitive edge over online such as our 125 acre countryside setting which allows customers to combine retail therapy with fresh air and exercise, or our strong links with our local community. In the past year, we’ve steadily grown our footfall with everything from art installations to asparagus-themed fun runs.
There’s no doubt that many parts of our industry need a shot in the arm. The retail models that worked so well for decades must be reconfigured in this age of internet shopping. But this is also a major opportunity for retail to regroup, re-energise and revitalise itself. Yes, how we shop has changed but this also means the relationship between consumer and retailer can change too – less transactional, more collaborative.
Bricks and mortar retailing still has many USPs; the number of people who still want to touch products, speak to a person and enjoy the social and leisure aspects of shopping should not be underestimated. Hosting innovative services like those offered by the Boardman Bikes Performance Centre are just one way we’re capitalising on those impulses.
Retail is definitely changing. We’re enjoying changing with it.
Contact me below for information on exciting retail, catering and leisure opportunities adjacent to The Boardman Performance Centre.