‘Breakfast with ….. is moving from travel to retail today as I chat about the future of the high street and consumer loyalty with Dan Whytock, CEO and Co-founder of Downyourhighstreet.com, the online shop window to independent retailers on the UK High Street. The site helps over 800 shop keepers sell their goods online allowing them to compete in an evolving retail environment.
Downyourhighstreet only supports ‘Bricks and mortar independents as we want to level the playing field where usually the online giants and chain stores benefit from the majority of online transactions. Our mission is to create the world’s longest high street online but connecting community with commerce.’
Dan’s biggest customer service gripe is one of my own pet peeves, especially if it’s just due to cost cutting and not having enough staff on hand to cope with demand; Long queues online and in store. However I was very happy to queue recently when I went for my first Covid vaccination. That’s one queue worth standing in.
Dan believes that ‘In a world surrounded by choice, loyalty is gained by good customer’s service. If the shop assistant or help desk handles my enquiry quickly and efficiently, I know I will go back again and again.’ I couldn’t agree more Dan. Loyalty has to be earned through the delivery of excellent customer service time and time again.
I asked Dan about how our shopping habits had changed over the years. His thoughts are that ‘Our lives have now been changed due to the pandemic so a huge 20% of the past 5 years has been significantly different. ‘ He went on to say that ‘People who have never shopped online are now experiencing its convenience and are likely to keep some of this new habit up post lockdown. That being said, online has been growing for years and its inevitable that more people will shop online, and brands are forced to start their online offering. So, although the past 12 months online has been exaggerated as physical stores have been closed, some of the growth is expected to stick around as users have experienced a new way of shopping. ‘
Dan’s view is that people are ‘Are happier to share their data than they were. While we are still in the relatively early years of ecommerce, there are now a lot more rules and restrictions around how companies can use data. The public has also become more informed on how data is used and amalgamated by computers, making them more inclined to share. As a result, people care less and less about privacy and more about personalisation. They don’t want to spend time and energy searching for products they want, in their size or available nearby, and are happy to offer some data to help personalise results.’
Post lockdown, Dan sees our High Streets as ‘A wonderful place to shop, visit, and stay for all. The pandemic has forced a shift of retailers on the high street. We will see retailers incorporating experiences into their businesses to encourage people back to the store, making it a nice place to be. If you want something specific you can get it online easily. However, if we want inspiration, a heartfelt gift, a few hours out the house, or just simply a human touch, then the high street will always been the centre attraction. The more digital we become, the more our human need for physical experience will kick in and retailers will find new ways to offer these experiences in store. Such as boutiques offering haircuts, coffees, and in some cases mini golf. ‘
Apparently, on the breakfast front you can’t go wrong with ‘Overnight oats with OAT milk. If he had the choice and ‘Although his company stands for the very opposite of Downyourhighstreet.com’, Dan says that a breakfast with Jeff Bezos ‘Would be fascinating as he has raised the bar of what’s possible in everything he does.‘ Agreed, that would definitely be an interesting breakfast.
Many thanks to Dan Whytock for taking the time to have breakfast with me today. Until next time everyone!
ABOUT DANIEL WHYTOCK
Daniel Whytock is CEO of DownYourHighStreet.com – a free to join, low commission online marketplace on a mission to create the world’s longest high street by connecting community with commerce and giving the Great British High Street an online presence. DownYourHighStreet.com hosts thousands of products that were previously unavailable online, from100s of independent retailers, allowing sellers to create or integrate their online presence saving them time and the costs traditionally associated with establishing a visible online presence.