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The Most Important Lessons To Learn From Retailers Of The Past

By Maria Hickey on July 24th, 2022

If you are a modern retail business owner, it can be helpful to look to the past to see what steps successful businesses have taken to make their retail business thrive. However, you don’t need to be visited by past, present, and future ghosts, like Ebeneezer Scrooge, to get plenty of helpful tips, advice and guidance.

So, let’s take a look at why you should look to the past to ensure the future success of your retail business.

Why Is It Important To Learn From Past Mistakes?

If the recent pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we need to be prepared for anything, no matter how outlandish it may seem. Who could have predicted the impact that Covid-19 had on the world, or how retail businesses now need to operate in its wake.

The retail marketplace has evolved dramatically over the past 200 years, but one thing has never changed in all that time – your customers want a prompt and attentive shopping experience.

With Internet shopping at everyone’s fingertips, customers expect fast service not only from online retailers but also from traditional brick-and-mortar retail shops too.

In hindsight, we can learn that the only online retailers surviving and thriving today are the ones that offer same-day or next-day delivery. Retail customers have grown too impatient to be kept waiting for their goods for longer than three days, which is good news for brick-and-mortar retail shops that can instantly offer their customers the products they want.

There are other important lessons to learn from the past and the impact of the more recent pandemic on the retail marketplace.

Top Lessons to Learn From Retailers Of The Past

1. Reduce Your Customer’s Risk Where Possible

Some of your customers will still be afraid to shop with you, both online or in-store, so they will choose not to buy at all. They are worried that they may get ripped off or have their financial data stolen. So it would help if you took measures to boost your customer’s confidence and trust in you with up-to-date privacy and security processes and prominently display your security policies online to reassure your customers their data is safe.

2. Offer Both Online & Physical Locations

A sure way to optimise your retail business is to offer your customers a choice to visit your brick-and-mortar shop or your online store; whichever option is the most convenient.

You can capitalise on selling to people living in your local community by offering a shop right on their doorstep. But many people prefer to shop online or are not physically able to make it into your shop, so offering your goods on a website with home delivery is a fantastic option too.

3. Always, Always Make Sure Your Insurance Is Up to Date

All retail businesses face risks, and although you can reduce those risks with extra security measures such as deadlocks, CCTV and modern alarm systems, you cannot eliminate every risk.

You will still need insurance to cover your employer, public and products liability, and don’t forget stock and contents insurance to cover fire and flood emergency losses. Should anything go wrong, it can be costly for you if your retail shop insurance is not up to date or offers enough cover to meet your needs.

4. Make Checking Out Online, And In-Store, As Easy As Possible

Operating a modern, thriving retail business involves using the latest technology and software to make your checkout process as quick and easy as possible.

Make sure that your online and brick-and-mortar shops offer fast payment options. If you can, invest in self-service till points that allow your customers to swipe and go instead of needing to queue at a physical checkout.

5. Offer As Many Payment Options As Possible

People today use multiple payment methods. If you don’t accept a wide range of payment options, you will often experience people abandoning their online baskets to shop for the same goods elsewhere.

6. Make Sure You Deliver When You Promised

Promising fast and personalised delivery times offers retailers a competitive edge over the competition with slower delivery rates. However, it would help if you deliver when you said you would. This will gain customer trust and see repeat orders.

Some customers want their goods ASAP, so they will be more inclined to buy from you with a next-day delivery promise but won’t return if you fail on that promise. Some customers will take time off work to wait for a delivery, so you don’t want to let them down and fail to deliver on time.

7. Make Everything As Convenient As Possible For Your User

In recent years, there has been a battle between online-only retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar retail shops. But since the pandemic has changed the face of how customers now choose to shop, bringing these two retail options together has meant shopping is now more convenient than ever for your customers.

For brick-and-mortar shops that have scaled up to offer an online retail option during the pandemic, it is clear that going back to a physical store isn’t the best option for them. Their customers have grown used to the convenience offered by online shopping, and your online store will reach people that are not directly on your doorstep.

Those living locally may prefer a click-and-collect system where they can order from you at their leisure and book a collection at a time that suits their schedule. This could mean placing an order online at 10pm at night and arranging to collect it after work the next day.


Before the pandemic, online shopping was a relatively small part of many retail shop owners’ business. However, this changed almost overnight when the country went into lockdown, forcing more shoppers online and more retailers into offering their goods on the web.

It has been a sharp learning curve for many smaller retail businesses with one or two brick-and-mortar shops that relied on local footfall for their income. With so many retailers having to adapt and change their business operations to cater for online consumers, it makes sense to keep both options open going into the future to capitalise on both sales channels.

One thing that all shop owners of the past would agree on is having the right retail lnsurance in place for your business to help you overcome the many different risks that you may face.

Nowadays, it is easy to arrange essential retail shop insurance in the UK by quoting online with Brisco Business Insurance. We compare the best retail shop insurance to meet your needs from the country’s leading insurance companies. Minimise financial losses and protect your investments with our robust business insurance plans at Brisco Business.

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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