Head to any successful mainstreet throughout the state and you’ll find it bustling with people. There’s the rich aroma of coffee in the air, people walking laden with bags filled with produce and other local goodies, and possibly even a few art galleries or cultural centres in the mix.
Mainstreet SA describes our mainstreets as “the beating heart of our communities”. They’re where locals and visitors alike come together at the pub or bakery, and where local products are showcased and sold.
But how can we ensure that our mainstreets are sustainable into the future? And, in a regional context, how do we innovate visitor experience and servicing to capitalise on infrastructure growth and other local advancements?
Next week I’ll be speaking at the Mainstreet SA conference in Port Pirie from May 10-11, addressing these key questions.
Co-presenting with Port Pirie Regional Council, I’ll be speaking about innovation in visitor servicing – and its role in future-proofing regional mainstreets.
My experience within the mainstreet space was largely shaped by my 13 years of leading retailing practice in Australia, Canada and Ireland. I’m driven by smart, cost effective but visionary approaches to the places, people and product underpinning modern mainstreets.
Ahead of next week’s talk, I wanted to share a few little nuggets of wisdom to get you thinking about the future of regional mainstreets.
1. Infrastructure is only part of the equation
New infrastructure really is only part of the equation when it comes to creating a successful and sustainable mainstreet. Visitor servicing is equally, if not more, important. When the two work together, you’ll get the best result. A study by Walker – a customer intelligence consulting firm in the US – noted that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator.
2. Generic product and service delivery won’t cut it
So we know that generic product and service delivery simply won’t cut it with discerning shoppers in 2018. But how can we avoid the generic? My presentation will highlight many ways to do so, but these include authenticity and storytelling. Increasingly, customers are favouring quality, but they’re also seeking products and experiences that are authentic and unique to the region they’re visiting. Therefore, interaction with the product or service and its maker will be key. Deliver a high-quality product or service in an interesting and authentic way, and you’re on to a winner. Mainstreets need to be curating the opportunities that showcase the new and emerging artists and talent of a region.
3. Think big
On the day, I’ll be encouraging businesses and communities to think big. It’ll be about overcoming a scarcity mindset, or a mindset where, if I’m paying my bills, I’m doing okay. Thinking bigger and executing a plan that celebrates unique, artisan product, and experiences that are intimate and local, presents both a challenge and an opportunity for our mainstreets and local businesses.
We’ll be considering how to best capitalise on your region’s infrastructure, and delivering a modern, innovative service experience that will position your business and mainstreet for great success both now and into the future.
You can find out more about the Mainstreet SA State Conference and view the full program here. I hope to see you there!