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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