Improving the customer experience in retail

Researchers at Manchester Met are part of a new £1 million consortium which will improve the customer experience on the UK High Street.

Professors Cathy Parker, Dominic Medway, Gary Warnaby, Cathy Urquhart and Dr Steve Millington will be investigating the footfall of customers from 70 retail locations across the country to see which town centres are successful and what factors influence that success.

Prof Parker said: “High streets across the country are under threat and are at risk of closure due to competition from out of town shopping centres and online shopping. It is important that the town centres at risk fight back and redevelop in ways that will regain their customers. They can do this by understanding exactly what type of town their catchment needs and learning from thriving town centres.

“Our project aims to provide struggling high streets with the data they need to make the right decisions to bring around an upward shift on footfall.”


The project will look at collaboration demonstrating the relationship between collective customer experience and individual retail performance through a new, easy-to use, interface – a footfall optimiser. In a post-Internet retail environment towns need to provide the right holistic experience – so traders need to work together more effectively to deliver this.

The optimiser will bring up information on town type, customer experience, customer demographics and more to individual decision makers, from retailers to place managers. This will enable the software users to adjust their operations to meet local preferences, optimising both the customer experience and their own business performance.

Algorithms and equations developed in the research stage of the project will be used to develop software that will predict and monitor the impact of interventions, such as changes to car-parking charges, opening hours, or resident population, on customer experience levels.

Co-funded by the University’s Institute of Place Management (IPM) and Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, the project combines retail expertise from a range of partners including retail intelligence specialists Springboard and big data and computing academics from Cardiff University. High streets and policy experts are also involved.

For more information on the project, visit: