Knowing the qualitative retail reality of your town centres

The Daily Post:- 13th June “Knowing the qualitative retail reality of your town centre”   I’ve walked on both sides of the retail High Street this week. On the one side I’ve been listening once again, as I’m sure you have, to more news of widespread store closures. This time it was House of Fraser. However what seemed so chilling on this occasion was the list of towns soon to be stripped of their flagship destination stores. There is something very finite about a physical list. There were also of course the various interviews with truly desolate local councillors and…

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The Shop at Bluebird: A Playground of Wonders

One of the pleasures of shopping in the physical world is the joy of discovery. However it’s not often that you stumble upon a completely new concept store in central London, especially not a 1,500 sqm one. Welcome to “The Shop at Bluebird” nestled in Floral Street, a stone’s throw from Covent Garden Piazza. Described by its creators Dalziel & Pow as a ‘playground of wonders’ it certainly creates a huge statement in an area rediscovering itself as a “jewel” in London’s retail crown.     If the name itself sounds familiar it’s no surprise as the Bluebird was an…

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The Golden Age of Retail Personalisation: 100 years ago

The Morning Post:- 4th June “The Golden Age of Retail Personalisation: 100 years ago?”   Lest we get ahead of ourselves and think that we have invented the retail wheel through our technological mastery its worth reflecting that certainly up until today the golden era of retail personalisation was in a time before even H.G. Wells envisaged the role that computers would play in our lives. And should we consider that getting personal with customers is something extraordinary isn’t it currently really an online initiative striving to replace what has largely been lost in the physical world of retail. Don’t get…

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Is your online sales & physical store numbers strategy in place?

Online & offline, the biggest challenge for historic retailers is to remain relevant and attractive to their customers. That will ultimately dictate the online sales potential and physical store numbers that will be viable for a business. Do you remember the days when the e-commerce part of a bricks ‘n’ mortar business was compared to the largest physical store? That was a realistic ambition. It also considered e-commerce as a nice bonus to have on top of the physical store sales.   There was no threat to the existing business just an additional opportunity. That seems like ancient history now.…

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Customer Experience Analytics: Which comes first…the Chicken or the Egg?

Which should come first, the chicken or the egg? How long will the chicken stay for, where will she go, and how many eggs will be in her basket?   The answers to customer experience analytics still seem tantalisingly out of reach for many retailers.   This year’s RBTE event at Olympia had its fair share of new IT initiatives as well as more established applications, refreshed, re-invented and re-packaged. And it’s a few years now since store traffic & customer movement analytics first burst onto the scene and certainly into my personal consciousness. It claimed to offer to physical…

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John Lewis: The Revolutionary “Loved & Found”

Still my retail highlight of the year for many reasons was to see the opening of the new John Lewis at the Westfield London extension. But whilst the popular headlines latched onto the innovative and original idea to train the store personnel with actors so as to be able to engage and sell more successfully, there was another less covered fact, which altogether has deeper repercussions for John Lewis and the retail industry in general.   John Lewis is on a quest to sell more unique and exclusive products in its stores. Not a token gesture and with an initial…

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“Selling other Peoples’ Stuff! Is it the end of Generic Retailers?

The Daily Post:- 23rd May “Selling other peoples’ Stuff! The end of generic retailers?   So what are the common threads amongst many of the retailers suffering in the current market climate? They’re certainly well publicized. Of course there are the issues with over-sized expensive store portfolios, a slowness to embrace omnichannel, a lack of consumer confidence and a dearth of disposable income…but certainly at the epicenter of the evolving shopping behavior storm is the “good old” retailer of generic product and brands. The reason is the crumbling of one of the foundations on which the retail industry was largely built.…

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“Spoil you Staff with Space!” and “Your Space with Staff!”

The Morning Post:- 22nd May “Spoil you Staff with Space!” and “Your Space with Staff!”   Many discussions I have been having recently on allocating space within stores. The whole model is changing from those large product areas, static stockrooms, over-spaced or unruly queuing areas and pitiful backroom facilities for staff to one that reflects not only the requirements of the shopper but in fact what generates the income. Or it should be. And due to popular demand the whole area of backroom space and facilities is the most vibrant and vociferous discussion…not surprisingly. On average only 10% to 15% of…

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How Much of your Retail Space should be Allocated to your Staff?

Retail professionals are under extreme pressure to deliver what they always have, but now in a retail landscape that is being transformed by changing customer behaviour and a migration of retail sales to e-commerce, questions that have never had to be faced before are now becoming uncomfortably relevant…   I have witnessed some unseemly “scraps” for store square metres in my time between competing categories all trying to get as much of their “stuff” on the shop floor as possible, in the best and the most prominent places. I’ve also witnessed with incredulity a proud boast from a well-known DIY…

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Zara on the March: A Relentless Refreshment

The Evening Post:- 16th May “Zara on the March: A Relentless Refreshment”   I thought I’d share these Zara facts with everyone, not that its a retailer that particularly needs the publicity. The fact is that in the past it would have been fair comment to say that Zara had not readily focused its attention on store design or experience but simply let its amazing assortment steal the show and be the centrepiece of everything. Indeed it was also a relatively late entry in the e-commerce world with little development until 2012. But, boy was 2012 the catalyst year. Firstly Inditex accelerated…

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Death of the Salesman: Long Live Retail!

The Morning Post:- 14th May “Death of the Salesman: Long Live Retail!”   Over the years, I have been in many meetings and discussions where the question has been asked…”What’s the difference between sales & marketing?” My best explanation is that in fact, it is the same process but approached from different perspectives. To coin the introduction from many a hackneyed joke…”A man goes into a shop…and he buys something” The sales perspective from behind the counter is one of price and margin. It’s about making the sale and making the profit to be viable and successful. The perspective from the…

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Future of Visual Merchandising: Tim Radley- Retail Design Expo

“The Future of Visual Merchandising: – Are we there yet?” Tim Radley, CEO VM-Unleashed Speaking at The Retail Design Expo 3rd May 2018  – 10-40 am Olympia, London   You don’t need me to alert you to the fact that retail is in very unchartered territory at the moment as a combination of e-commerce & social media, expensive store portfolios, business rate adjustments and the customer’s changing behaviour towards almost everything from loyalty, possessions, experiences and value for money, all contribute to the tearing up the maps that we have always used to navigate safe passage to profit. The traditional…

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VM & Display Show: “The Commercial Context for Creativity”

The Evening Post:- 20th April Visual Merchandising: “The Commercial Context for Creativity”   It was a pleasure yesterday to be speaking at the VM& Display Show in London. Many thanks to all indeed for pulling yourselves out of the beautiful sunshine and coming along to listen to me. The show itself was full of innovative and creative businesses displaying everything retailers could wish for from the latest lighting and technology to a huge array of traditional props from plastic flamingos to incredibly detailed trees collected together in nothing short of mock rainforests.   And that was really good to see. The show…

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The Future of Visual Merchandising…Creative or Operational?

The Daily Post:- 16th April The Future of Visual Merchandising…Creative or Operational?   In the midst of answering client questions, and preparing for a couple of presentations in the near future, at the VM & Display Show and Retail Design Expo (well worth putting in your diaries) I am reminded yet again that “What is the future of VM?” is without doubt the most common question I am asked, both privately and for public airing. And of course, since the advent of e-commerce and omnichannel, with a resultant increase in the rate of retail change never witnessed before…this question just gets more…

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“Making Money from VM” – Tim Radley @ VM&Display Show

“Making & saving money from new store concepts, VM & display!” Tim Radley, CEO VM-Unleashed speaking at The Retail Focus Forum: VM&Display Show 19th April 2018  – 1 pm 18 – 19 April 2018 Business Design Centre, London   We live in a retail climate where online retailing is making significant in roads into the sales and profits traditionally commanded by physical stores. Customers and retailers alike are questioning the future direction of physical stores, some to the point of asking whether there is a future for physical stores at all. Of more relevance is a debate about what our future…

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The White Company: Living life in the Soft Lane!

There surely cannot be a better example of why online retailing will never replace the physical store than The White Company. The recent opening of the extension of Westfield London sees the latest incarnation of the home retailer, now lifestyle retailer, inviting the customer to literally dive into the sumptuous textures and fabrics that make-up its assortment.   If this is your brand taste then there is nothing to compare, however for any retailer of physical stores, and online as well, there is much to admire in its strategy, assortment development, customer service and its store experience. The White Company…

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The 2 different ways to encourage customers to spend

The Evening Post:- 5th April 2 different ways to encourage customers to spend    Do your retail sales blow hot & cold?  Well, with the sun shining today in the UK and for most, at least, the winter snow receding into memories if not from the balance sheets, it reminds me of a more than relevant story. Anyone remember the tale from when they were younger about the wager between the North wind and the South wind on who could remove the quickest the coat from the man walking in the country. To cut a long story short, the north wind…

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MissGuided: Heat Seeking Fashion Gets Physical

Born and bred online, young fashion retailer Missguided is now cutting its terrestrial teeth as it continues to roll out its physical flagship stores to major shopping centres in the UK. Full of attitude, high on fashion and riding a dynamic rollercoaster the task in hand was always to translate this successful e-commerce formula into real stores considering their limitations of space, product availabilities and operational restrictions. And while it learns well from the best of bricks ‘n’ mortar it brings new thinking and ideas to the physical space without the baggage of tradition constantly pulling it back down to…

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Does your store backroom space show you value your staff?

The Daily Post:- 5th April Does the amount of store gross sqm you dedicate to your staff really show how much you value them?   I’ve been visiting stores of a couple of similar retailers in terms of their sector and size of store. They have different market positions but have the commonality that customer service is very important to their proposition and ultimately their conversion and profit. Despite the market positioning differences, many elements in the store are similar from the density of displays, type of fixture, layout of the retail space and so on. However the thing that sets them…

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Hope Springs Eternal with the Beauty of a Retail Calendar

The Morning Post:- 5th April “Hope Springs Eternal with the Beauty of a Retail Calendar“   Helping a retail client to exit the Easter promotions and move into a mid-season sale the staff, and even the store itself, naturally succumb to some mild form of “Post Event Syndrome.” For sure April brings showers, certainly in the UK, but it also closes an intense period of retail activities driven by a condensed seasonal event calendar. From the gloom of February we brighten our days with Valentines pinks & reds and then onto early Spring, through Mother’s Day, St Patrick’s day and finally…

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