Omnichannel Overload: Finding focus in a confusion of retail possibilities

Why is omnichannel the focus of retail? The short answer to this is because it’s what the customer wants, and never has the old adage “the customer is always right” been so apt or so accurate as in the consumer-centric world in which we now live. Customers want the convenience of the online world with the ability to browse, choose and pay in the comfort of their own homes, and with the rapid rise of m-commerce the freedom to do these things beyond the confines of their houses – out into the dynamic world’s that they inhabit. However physical retail…

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Celebrating Omnichannel: Exorcising the ghosts of Christmas past, present & future…

So the winner yet again this Christmas was online retail. Also, apparently and a little contradictory, Amazon was at the same time killing off retail itself, which is a little strange considering that the last time I logged on to Amazon, it was indeed a retailer.   It all makes for good headlines, even if becoming a little stale and increasingly confusing, however beyond being pedantic about headlines, retail is far from dead, physical stores are still hugely popular and Amazon itself opened only last week its first open-to-the-public physical store. Now that’s that all cleared up. Of course what…

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“Building the Passion Supply Chain: The Beauty and the Beast!”

From beginning to end…from conception to consumption…nurture an inner pride that translates to a public passion, so that the flow of enthusiasm continues well beyond the selling process. As part of your core business processes measure and monitor passion as though it were as tangible as gold coins because that is what passion will surely produce.   A successful supply chain is a fundamental pre-requisite for any retail business. Creating and managing it requires small fortunes of investment, complicated integrated technologies, coordinated and sequential actions, and large teams of employees putting in many man hours. And in the context of…

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Dark Sugars: Passion & Pride in Chocolate Heaven

Being passionate about chocolate wouldn’t rank as being unusual in our sweet toothed society, however converting an indulgence into a thriving business riding the crest of a chocolate wave for two decades takes more than simply applying recipes.   Dark Sugars is destination number one for chocolate experiences in London, nestled appropriately on Shoreditch’s Brick Lane amongst the famous facades of its many frequented Indian restaurants. Decidedly sweeter though no less spicier Dark Sugars provides a world of sensory wonder to those who cross its dark threshold. As its name suggests the passion and inspiration for the brand comes from…

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Great Yarns: The Untold Riches of a Humble Past

As part of VM-unleashed’s 10th anniversary year we take a look back at some retail milestones from the last decade and explain why each store’s message is as relevant for us today as it was then. The last decade has shown us that brands need to connect very strongly on an emotional level with their customers in order to survive and flourish. New brands arrive with a fanfare of future expectations, but equally valid and valuable are the stories behind the brand evolution and history. It almost seems that the more humble and authentic the struggles of distant decades are, the more…

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“Where there are People there is Retail”

“Where there are people there is retail” however every retail location needs a commercial strategy and an inspirational delivery. Customer traffic is now dictating the location of retail. Freedom to travel and freedom to choose between online and physical shopping, between town and out-of-town, between the familiar and the unusual is changing the landscape of where people spend their money.   The retail location equation now includes not only town centres & high streets, retail parks and shopping centres but leisure destinations, transit centres from airports to railway and service stations, colleges and universities with the populations of small towns…

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Loaf at your Leisure: Disruptive Relaxation

Loaf, in a purely traditional definition, is a retailer of sofas, beds and furniture. However in the context of the traditional way of doing business it is a disruptor of the highest order bringing new ideas, imagination and inspiration to the table of home retailing.   To begin, Loaf is not just a clever name with its implication of relaxation in the modern media world, or its application to product names and its staff of “Loafers,” but is a summary of a state of mind and attitude to its proposition and its customer profile. When it comes to interaction it…

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Soho Alive & Kicking: The Jimi Hendrix Pop-up Experience

As part of VM-unleashed’s 10th anniversary year we take a look back at some retail milestones from the last decade and explain why each store’s message is as relevant for us today as it was then. Two big themes of the decade were epitomised by the second coming of Jim Hendrix to Carnaby Street. Firstly the advent of the “Pop-up” shop. Now everyone’s favourite vehicle for testing out new product launches and brand marketing initiatives, made official and commercial by a growing number of temporary store property agents, it’s not so long ago that this phenomenum was only a tiny glint…

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Retail Workshops: Where to begin with town centre planning

Managing a single retail chain is complicated enough however when it comes to retail locations, town centres, shopping centres, retail and leisure destinations then simply the number of stakeholders and agendas involved can create an insurmountable complexity making the whole decision process impossible, never mind the delivery itself.   So if you’re in a quandary as to how to move forwards with a coordinated and workable retail strategy for your location then how to begin? One thing is for sure, effective change cannot be imposed but must be reached through discussion and consensus between all relevant parties. The successful delivery of…

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“The Independent Retailer Support Kit”

How town centres, high streets and independent retailers can evolve “Local Destination Stores” because being an independent retailer does not mean you have to be inefficient, unattractive, and uncompetitive.   In fact in the fight for retail traffic between competing town centres the role of independents is more critical than ever in creating distinct flavour and personality. When independent retailers escape the cloak of consumer invisibility and exchange it for the colourful and attractive garb of local destination retailers then shopping venues truly begin to attract attention, command respect and pull in the customer pounds that they so desperately seek. However to…

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“Is Bluewater’s expansion killing Kent’s High Streets?”

Tim Radley, CEO VM-unleashed, interviewed on Radio Kent as part of its debate on retail in the county.   Bluewater Shopping Centre has recently been given planning permission for a number of expansions including a leisure development around its lake complex and the arrival of a new Primark flagship. Already under pressure from the regional super-shopping centre local towns are bracing themselves for another blow to their high streets. But is it really time to write off the high street as a shopping destination? Tim Radley expands on his points made in the breakfast show on Radio Kent – 29th…

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Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Cath’s Cornucopia

As part of VM-unleashed’s 10th anniversary year we take a look back at some retail milestones from the last decade and explain why each store’s message is as relevant for us today as it was then. Cath Kidston flagship store, Piccadilly London “Amongst the proud pillars of Piccadilly a little floral femininity has broken through the winter weather. Cath Kidston’s first flagship is a bright beacon of colour inviting the passer-by to explore a world of nostalgic designs, a celebration of classic kitsch, a veritable house of horticultural hype. Famous for its floral designs Cath Kidston lets its product do…

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Converse Relationship: Clever Footwork to Customer Loyalty

As part of VM-unleashed’s 10th anniversary year we take a look back at some retail milestones from the last decade and explain why each store’s message is as relevant for us today as it was then. Converse flagship store, New York City “Converse know who they are! The key to brand success in 2013 is the commercial and emotional maximisation of the brand personality. Converse is the best example of taking an iconic product and bringing it to life through celebration of the classics, adaptation to new trends, celebrity, cultural and creative endorsement and collaboration and personalisation for customer empowerment.…

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VM-Unleashed – 10 years old: Time flies when you’re having fun

As I always tell my clients, 10 is an interesting number. On the one hand it doesn’t sound a lot but on the other hand who wouldn’t want a 10% increase in sales, or wages, or a 10% reduction in tax. In modern retail, performance increases are made up of increments and so the number 10 can go a very long way indeed.     And so from nowhere VM-unleashed is 10 years old! A landmark which in the grand scheme of things, life and the universe, seems insignificantly small, yet has included memorable and productive collaborations that have certainly…

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Lush for Life: Believing in the Body & Soul of Beauty

It’s not often that the atmosphere in a store is so real and tangible you can almost touch it and taste it. And whilst the assortment on offer may look good enough to eat in Lush, it is the experience which is something to die for and not a misguided mouthful of soap-suds.   Complete strangers are struck instantly by the friendly welcome, the overwhelming enthusiasm of the staff, and the intensity of customer engagement where it seems every customer is the most important ever to cross this therapeutic threshold. Lush, of course, has been around for a while. Originally…

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“The Flow of Retail Passion!”

It is a very long way from the product drawing board to an exciting store full of inspiring stock and enthusiastic staff. The journey is complicated logistically, commercially, geographically and emotionally, and involves the passing of the product baton between many hands.   First and foremost the outcome in terms of product proposition must be commercially complete incorporating all the processes and parameters that deliver an assortment plan that learns from past experience as well as future predictions. Logistically that plan must be delivered on-time, in sequence and coordinated to present the perfect proposition complete and in its utmost glory…

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House of Hackney: passionate people producing amazing experiences

To step from Shoreditch High Street into the House of Hackney is a journey into such a wonderful world of sumptuous colour and texture that a visit to Narnia itself would be no more astounding. And that is not to sleight Shoreditch but to extoll the voluptuous virtues of this home emporium that it so appropriately houses.   House of Hackney is a print-based lifestyle brand, founded in London in 2010 as an interiors label by husband and wife team Javvy M Royle and Frieda Gormley. Its origins unsurprisingly are in Hackney but it has now serenely settled both its…

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Passion is an absolute pre-requisite for commercial retail success

Successful retail businesses are driven by passionate people, with sales & profits the commercial outcome of a passion for product and lifestyle.   It would be unfair and inaccurate to say that retail businesses have been without passion as in fact some of the most famous and successful retailers ever, from the Limited Group to the Body Shop, have been built around passionate individuals. However too many other companies, founded in less demanding and competitive times, rely too much on simply selling the same stuff to the same people in a cold commercial way. “Ordinary retailers, selling ordinary products to…

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9th Joy of Retail Spring: VMToolkit to Control Stores

Every retailer is different, and in most cases every store is different, from the obvious variations of culture and taste in an international  portfolio, the clear operational issues between directly owned stores and wholesale partners, to the more subtle challenges of different store manager personalities and store personnel attitudes. All this requires retailers to create and apply a wide-range of guidelines, tools and processes to get the very best from every store situation – the VMToolkit   VMTookit & operations efficiency benchmarking Having the correct VMToolkit ensures that ROI is focused on creating excellence and efficiency in the disciplines of…

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Untold Riches of a Humble Past: The Telling of Brand Stories

In a strange turn of events and in part reaction to the fabricated fantastic world around us there has become a clamor for brands with true heritage, roots, tradition and history. In many ways the greater the brand struggle, the deeper the hardship, the more humble the history then the more credible collateral a business has to take into the future firmament.   At the heart of this consumer desire is “trust.” Always an essential of any brand relationship, but now not just about “trust in performance,” the faith in the prestige and prowess of a product to propel the…

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