Amazon Wardrobe: Facilitating returns to drive sales

Taking the customer’s money is only half the story of retail. In fact, giving the money back is threatening to become the primary activity in an online world where the customer is now calling the shots. A landscape has formed where the customer returns at will, and the retailer picks up the bill. Buying many sizes and styles with the intention of returning the majority is acceptable behaviour for Generation Z’s, Millennials and older customers. The panacea of online retail can soon turn into a reality nightmare. But product returns don’t have to be all bad news. Ironically by making…

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Retail Stores or Retail Brand: What drives customer loyalty?

It’s an interesting discussion. What drives a customer to a specific shop? Is it the individual store itself and the experience in it? Or is it the wider retail brand and its portrayal to the customer? It’s particularly relevant because currently everything in retail is up for change. Loyalty is in the balance. So, lets take the individual store. The correct way to deliver this is to create an amazing experience for the customer. That experience can include many things. From the assortment, availability, store design, atmosphere, customer service, individual staff rapport, facilities, opening hours, events, promotions price or any other…

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Selfridges Designer Street Room: VMUnleashed “Strategies behind the Scenes”

Strategies behind the scenes: “Plan experiences, not assortments” For several years Selfridges strategy has been to create flexible and dynamic spaces. Each space is a complete concept. Built around the assortment it includes the music, installations, fixtures and fittings. Down to display techniques and up to showcase features such as the Skate Bowl. The spaces are customer focused “end-use” propositions such as the Designer Street Room or Body Zone. They are complete with food and drink offerings such as cafes, wine bars and restaurants.       Are your stores capturing the imagination of your customers? Is your experience true and authentic?…

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Waterstones Social Club: Actions Speak Louder than Words

Yet another survey was published last week showing how the number of closing retail stores on the high streets of the UK significantly outweighs those opening. Sad as that is, it’s no surprise to anyone in the current omnichannel climate. What is surprising is that the store category with the healthiest number of openings, compared to closures, is bookstores. A decade ago the mere thought that bookstores would be leading new store openings would have been dismissed as ridiculous. Amazon began life as an online bookstore, targeting the physical equivalent as its first conquest. It then went on to develop…

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Retail Location Community Planning: A New Angle for a Circular Approach

Retail Location Community Planning: A New Angle for a Circular Approach Retailers in general are re-thinking many of their commercial practices. Location planning departments will be at the head of the queue when it comes to looking for new answers. Scratching their heads for an alternative strategic approach to where and why they open and close stores. Traditional traffic analysis and demographic profiling should still be the bedrock of decision making. Locations that have the highest active number of target customers will be the most successful. Store concept modelling is also logically based. Commercialising a generic offer, a profitable store model.…

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Selfridges Designer Street Room: A Pavement Perspective

As you’d expect there’s been a bit of a media blitz surrounding the appearance of a Skate Bowl in the middle of Selfridges flagship store on Oxford Street. Never one to shy away from innovation it is nonetheless a refreshing story, a positive spin on the department store sector. Whilst the Skate Bowl is sensational in concept and delivery, it is part of a wider departmental concept, which is the new centrepiece of a forward-thinking strategy on how to use retail square metres. Despite Selfridges astounding and unsurpassed collection of brands, the commercial future is more than just stuff. The…

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Incredible Universe: “Welcome to the Global Shopping Mall”

Tim Radley speaking at the PLUGin event – “Welcome to the Global Shopping Mall – future of E-commerce and Retail” 31st October 2018: 6-30 to 8-30 pm Central Working Victoria, 25 Eccleston Place, London. SW1W 9NF For more information and to book: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/plugin-welcome-to-the-global-shopping-mall-future-of-e-commerce-and-retail-tickets-51031747330?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete   Those, with a longer retail tooth, will remember an extreme retail concept from the 1990s called Incredible Universe. At 17,000 sqm it was a retail heavyweight, selling everything electrical and technological, such as it was back then. The ultimate “Category Killer.” It was killed off by its operational scale and, even before the internet, by its…

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The Promised Land of Creativity: The Future for Visual Merchandisers

The Promised Land of Creativity: The Future for Visual Merchandisers There’s always much talk about the future of visual merchandising but surprisingly little about the evolution of the role of the visual merchandiser. It’s almost as though beautiful stores happen by magic. And that misconception is certainly one that still holds back the VM profession, its recognition and rewards. However, all markets and individual retailers are on a retail journey. The seas are choppy and rapidly changing and the flags of VM are firmly tied to this ship. So, let’s look at some key retail trends and see what the…

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The Consumer is Dead: Long live the Retailer Community

The Consumer is Dead: Long live the Retailer Community Consumer is such a terrible way to describe the people who come into our stores and spend money with us. It’s equally inappropriate and impersonal even for those who never dare to darken our doorways. Consuming is a process of devouring without consideration.  Power stations devour fossil fuels. Blue Whales devour plankton indiscriminately. Ultimately consuming is only about necessity. Consumers of a bygone age. In terms of retailing, the use of the term “consumer” originates from the “Golden Age of Consumerism” of the 1950s. During this time, mass production brought affordable…

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Amazon 4-Star: When Online Retail Hits a Bricks ‘n’ Mortar Wall

Amazon 4-Star: When Online Retail Hits a Bricks ‘n’ Mortar Wall I’m a great admirer of Amazon. So, let’s move away from the nonsense that Amazon is killing retail. Amazon is a retailer and is leading a retail transformation. It may not be founded on designing, producing and selling its own products (although that is gathering irresistible momentum) but it is no less a retailer than Toys R Us, or any traditional department store or shop selling “other people’s stuff!” Retailers of all origins and longevity would do well to learn quickly from its customer centric approach to everything. That…

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Bloom & Wild: Delivering a Fragrant Revolution

Bloom & Wild: Delivering a fragrant revolution I’d recommend that we all spoil ourselves with flowers. Not, for the hell of it, and not any flowers. Just those delivered by Bloom & Wild. Their story is not about flowers, no matter how beautiful they are, its about disrupting a market with one decisive initiative as its origin. Delightful Disruption Bloom & Wild are the original “letterbox” florists. As you might imagine this means that flowers are sent directly through you letterbox. Take any nightmare visions from your mind of flowers being forced through your doors like Christmas trees through a shredder. In…

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Lush: Creating Communities and always in Conversation

Lush: Creating Communities and always in Conversation Even those customers who would never consider crossing the threshold of a Lush store, never mind investing in a bath-bomb or a slice of specialist soap, are charmed and engaged by the customer experience they find. I’ve accompanied many clients and colleagues to stores and what astounds them is the life, energy and enthusiasm of the store teams. From a state of embarrassment, the doubters are soon lost in the depths of the store, listening intently to their guides and trying their hand at skin treatments, immersing themselves up to their elbows in…

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Retail & the Circular Economy: Square Pegs in a Round Whole?

Retailers can learn from the Circular Economy by becoming communities and not just sequences of job functionality. Positive actions & interactions stimulate others. Waste is minimised. Waste of resources, products and of time. And the waste of people – their energy, goodwill, knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm. I have to say that the concept of the “Circular Economy” is a rather recent discovery to me. Perhaps not the philosophy and the processes but the words themselves neatly summing up the principle of minimising wastage and maximising resources. It is of course highly relevant to retail and its traditionally linear processes and…

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Pitch Perfect: Sports Direct Playing the Field

Pitch Perfect: Sports Direct Playing the Field If you want to see some clues as to what the new Mike Ashley House of Fraser might look like, then a good starting point are the new Sports Direct/USC/Flannels superstores. One of the latest is at Lakeside where a 10,000sqm sports and lifestyle experience has taken shape. The Mike Ashley’ jigsaw put together piece by piece. Recent years has seen a subtle move at Sports Direct from just “Pile it high. Sell it cheap” to a more controlled, more organised and less densely displayed proposition. An upscaling of the brand portfolio has…

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A Retail Dilemma: “No Business, No People!” or “No People, No Business!”

A Retail Dilemma: “No Business,  No People!” or “No People, No Business!”   Thanks to everyone who contributed to last week’s post on John Lewis and their approach to investment in the face of cost-cutting and delivering profit. One really important issue raised is a fundamental dilemma for current retail strategists. “No business, No People!” Of course, if there is no business then there will be no people, so every attempt must be made to make any business viable and protect its workforce. However how you ensure this survival and growth is a matter of debate and strategic differences. Certainly, for John…

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Elvis & Kresse: Fighting Fashion Fire with Fire

Elvis & Kresse: Fighting Fashion Fire with Fire So much of the exciting retail scene of today is coming from people with a real passion. The passion is not necessarily for retail initially but comes as a natural evolution of a wider passion for a philosophy, for values and for life. Elvis & Kresse is one of those truly inspirational retail brands that you don’t come across every day. However, it is commanding a loyal following and represents a growing number of business producing beautiful products with a 360-degree ethical and sustainable philosophy. Retail with a passion Their passions are…

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From Foyles to Anthropology: The “Lure” of Eccentric retailing

From Foyles to Anthropology: The “Lure” of Eccentric retailing Last week, in a further example of market consolidation, the UK’s leading book retailer Waterstones bought up the Foyles bookstore business. This included the famous Charing Cross Road store, recently moved and re-furbished. The stories surrounding Foyles are no less than retail folklore. They help to explain its survival, the re-naissance of Waterstones and the revival of many independent book shops. This is in direct competition to Amazon who, you will remember, began life as an online book retailer themselves. Nothing can compete with the price, convenience and efficiency of Amazon.…

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Digital Signage Summit 2018: Disrupting the Store Design Model

Tim Radley, presenting at the Digital Signage & Interactive Solutions Summit 8-45 a.m. – 24th September Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted https://digitalsignagesummit.co.uk   Looking forward to speaking at this very interesting summit on Digital Signage and the Store Experience. It’s a very relevant subject for retailers so hoping to set out the main issues, benefits and pitfalls with the opening presentation of the conference. Look forwards to see you there, bright & early!   The Impact of Digital Signage: Disrupting the Traditional Store Design Model   Whilst creativity, imagination and technical possibilities have grown impressively over recent times, the store…

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Let’s applaud John Lewis: Putting People over Profit

Let’s applaud John Lewis: Putting People over Profit   Let’s put this simply. Retail in the UK is undergoing destructive changes never seen before. There are less consumers with disposable income than previously. These customers prefer to buy online from Amazon and spend whatever else they can on experiences rather than possessions. Department stores are more at risk than most because their traditional model is focused on selling brands, most of which you can now buy cheaper elsewhere. Operationally they are also expensive to run, particularly against the back-drop of hikes in business rates and an apathetic government. Add into…

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Retail Metamorphosis: Lessons from Disruptive Lives

Retail Metamorphosis: Lessons from Disruptive Lives Hot on the heels of seeing the new John Lewis TV advert, here am I, watching a TV programme on caterpillars, butterflies and a variety of other creatures. And I’m thinking, as I ponder the challenges confronting the retail industry, that businesses would do well to learn a little from nature. A lesson in lifestyle From caterpillar to butterfly, the most common metamorphosis, the visual change is startling. The journey from an unassuming bug to a beautiful creature is truly magical. However special effects and admiration are not the reasons for this dramatic change.…

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