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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Are you truly a Retail Brand or just a Product Provider?

On the surface this may appear to be a question stimulated by the omnichannel evolution. In truth it has always been an important question however in previous times with a less demanding customer and a lower level of competition, being a retail brand was a less pressing consideration and the repercussions of not having a clear definition as a business less perilous to the bottom line. How times have changed!   What e-commerce has done is to create the need for every business selling and supplying physical products to be at the very least competitive in terms of being a…

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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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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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“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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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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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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Pop-Up for Tea: Tasteful Treats from Wedgwood

A mere meander from the horticultural highlights of the Chelsea flower show is a marriage made in heritage heaven between Wedgwood and John Lewis.   Just a few steps into the foyer of Peter Jones in Sloane Square is a land of serene ceramics and tasteful elegance, a month-long pop-up experience that turns tasteful into tasty as the setting for the Wedgwood Conservatory Cafe, a place of tranquil relaxation and quiet indulgence. The Wedgwood world is emblazoned in powder blue, provided on this occasion by graphic walls, plinths and packaging, the backdrop for six Wanderlust tea designs in yellows, reds,…

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Sustainable Selfridges: Natural Partner for a Material World

Time never stands still for Selfridges. The dawn of every day is reason enough to energise the store with new messages, products and brands to perpetuate its reputation as one of the world’s most exciting retail experiences.   When seasonality subsides for a second Selfridges fills the void with self-generated events bringing every aspect of its considerable assortment to the attention of its captive customers – amidst its Spring activities for Easter and Mother’s Day there was still ample time for a powerful collaboration with major fashion brands based around sustainable materials in fashionwear. “Material World – What on earth…

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