Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Retail Safari at Westfield gives back to basics VM inspiration!

The other day I was heading for an appointment in London and I had an hour to kill, so I hopped off the train a stop early and went to the shopping mecca, Westfield. Recession? What recession? It was jam packed with people jostling to get into their favourite shops.
I had great fun as I turned my trip into a retail safari and caught up with what the latest trends are being used to display product and was amazed that major brands were using such simple and extremely effective POS (points of sale) and methods to display their merchandise, that any independent retailer can or MUST get inspired by. Many of the items you will see below are  extremely low cost and almost basic looking, but they are so simple they really do look fantastic. Take a look and let me know what you think!
First stop was www.Ozdilek.co.uk. I wasn’t looking for new bathroom towels or bed linen, however I went past the shop having taken a look into the very back of the shop and had to do a double take as the colour blocking they had done was stunning. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but hopefully you can get a feel for the power of a good colour block!
Colour blocking display www.Ozdilek.co.uk
 Next stop was Palladium Footwear. I just love the stones and oil cans as props!
Palladium using stones and petrol cans
Palladium footwear stones display
Close up of the stones:
palladium footwear stones!
Then onto one of my favourite shops, Urban Outfitters. Check out the retro look here, back to 80′s graph paper to display prices and messages,  super cool even if it does remind me of my maths classes!!
Urbanoutfitters display
 These wood POS really beat their acrylic cousins seen EVERYWHERE!!
Urbanoutfitters wood display
 The clothes rack using pipework, ribbon, graph paper and wood!
Urbanoutfitters clothes displayHere is a close up:
Urbanoutfitters display
A bit of Banksy to give the graffiti look and feel to the displays:
Urbanoutfitters display with Banksy
Got a horrid pillar bang in the middle of your shop? Here’s a cool way to decorate it and make it a piece of art!
Urbanoutfitters display pillar artPillar Art:
Urbanoutfitters display pillar art
Sign Up here! Don’t forget the essential opportunity to ask your customers to sign up to your offers and newsletters…
urban outfitters sign up POS
Student Discount highly visible at till point here:
urban outfitters student discount
And for the Urban Outfitter hipsters, the Spotify offer in a lovely wooden box:
urban outfitters spotify
This is what you see the tills:urban outfitters behind the till display
Next stop – am I outside a nightclub? No it’s Hollister! No branding, just comfy chairs and an nightclub-esque entrance! Take your shades off now, you will need your night vision at this uber cool venue!!Hollister
Again, a great example of stylish POS and not a spec of plastic in sight. This one can be interchanged depending on the required message:
Hollister POS
All those shops made me quite hot and in need of…aha! a frozen yoghurt! I discovered a fantastic place, Pinkberry, where the frozen yoghurts are sooo tasty. I must come back just for the mango and strawberry combo. Look at the simple, clean and fresh branding here.
Roll up banners even in Westfield have a great impact:
Pinkberry frozen yoghurt
We hope we have inspired you to go on your own retail safari. Take your camera and see what you wouldn’t normally see.
Let me know how you get on and leave a comment in the box below!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Stylists styling stylists at Mary Portas & House of Fraser!

On Tuesday night I managed to get on the guest list of a fab event organised by ASIP London  where the lovely and very chic Melanie Rickey (fashion editor at Grazia, The Guardian to name a few)  gave a talk to stylists and image consultants on the creation of the Mary Portas collection in House of Fraser.
Mel with Pippa and Jennifer of ASIP
Mel said doing up your top button on your shirt will make your look instantly modern….
Melanie took us through a rail of samples from the collection telling us how and why the garments had been inspired and more importantly for whom they were targeted.
Her killer line that received lots of oohs and aahs, was when she told us about the “Mary Cocktail”….as we were sipping our Waitrose champagne, it seemed to tie in very well! The “Mary Cocktail” has the three key ingredients she, Mary and team use when putting together collections. 1 part chic, 1 part edge and 1 part decorate. We should all use this mantra when getting dressed in the morning so we can all succeed in looking as Mel said: modern, chic and current and that is exactly what the Mary Portas range is.
Also the  goal of the range is to fit and to flatter the wearer – for example some of their dresses are designed with the inner lining one size smaller which is a really clever idea. I should know as  I bought a red dress last summer and it was very flattering, and now I know why it was soooo figure hugging!!!
I loved hearing about inspiration for the designs and a shirt (below) was inspired by some Greek ceramic tiles found on a distant Greek island when Mary and Mel were holidaying – how cool is that! That is why you should always have your camera at hand to shoot anything that inspires you – that may at the time seem totally irrelevant to your field or sector (see our post on Retail Safaris) but that photograph will come back to haunt you as you prepare your shop windows or develop a new product range.
After Mel had finished her entertaining, informative and inspirational talk we then went on to browse the range and in turn to meet all the lovely staff who I had got to know in my sitting room as I watched the TV programme. What an amazing bunch of uber professionals! Amanda, Mark, Connie, Katie, Drew, Becky and John you all rock!
x 2 Amandas in this shot! With Mark and John
(PS check out my newly bought cobalt blue top seconds before the shot! It went so well with the pink jeans – that will soon be out of fashion according to Mel as 501s make a huge comeback, so team them up with something good whilst they are still just about in!)
Now these guys really know how to make a customer feel special and looked after with their most excellent customer service skills. I bet even if you were to buy a £2 lip balm they’d make your shopping experience as good if you were to buy the full range from knickers through to party dress!!
Now to a few shots we took as we enjoyed our evening …..
Orange is the theme – the colour is everywhere as are the actual fruit! I loved this visual merchandising idea of bringing life, vibrancy and colour to a shop where there is no natural light, and of course from running luxury alpaca knitwear e-store HUMM I really appreciated seeing the yarn as props.
Whilst creating ideas for your shop display, it doesn’t all have to be neon lights and high budgets – take a look at this simple but really effective idea of extending the branding. You will never forget which shop you are in when at Mary Portas House of Fraser. When I am doing face to face surveys to retailers, the first question when in store, is ‘What’s your shop called?’ and so often I turn my head 360 in search of branding or logo to tell me where I am….so imagine if you don’t do internal branding, how is the customer going to remember your shop name if they have thrown away your branded carrier bag?
Close up of the stencil painted board above the changing rooms
Another really cost effective and highly effective prop is the humble apple crate. You can white wash them or leave them as they come – see how great they look here, adding height to the table and making a cool backdrop for the mannequin.
Here is Connie looking amazing in her black version of the ‘no brainer’ yellow dress teaming it up with a red and black tartan long sleeved top:
And finally here are Drew and Mark just wrapping up my final purchase – limited edition Cowshed paraben free shower gel – heavenly. The boys are too good at their job!
What do you think? Have you visited the store? How do you like the visual merchandising ideas there? Please leave your comment!
Checkout our website: www.promoteyourshop.co.uk

Friday, 15 February 2013

Is Mary Portas Marmite? What do you think of Alex Polizzi?

Love her or hate her? Mary Portas is Marmite. I think she is great as well as Alex Polizzi! Take a look at this blog:

I know there is a lot of flack going on around the Portas Pilots and that people are quoted to say that Mary Portas is a jumped up celebrity only interested in herself as she ‘waltzes’ into boarded up areas and offers ‘tired ideas’ and is not truly passionate about the shop owners once the camera stops rolling – see this article here by the Daily Express: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/376657/Mary-Queen-of-shops-failed-to-save-our-stalls

Well I have a different opinion to those disgruntled stall holders and shop owners: GET OVER YOURSELVES!

Having done face to face surveys to independent retailers on their marketing mix, there is a strong divide: half really want to know more about social media, PR and basic marketing techniques in order to boost their footfall whereas the other half bluntly and sometimes proudly declare they have no interest in learning how to encourage more customers into their empty shops.

We have found that the people who are well and truly are stuck in their ways seem to have a certain inevitability that one day soon they will have to shut up shop as they haven’t moved with the times to engage their customers.

Alex Pollizi in The Fixer time and time again has to counter negativity with the shops she deals with and often has head locking battles with the shop owners to try to get them to come out of the wood and actually see the trees from a distance as opposed to being right in the thick of it and never changing ‘the way we have always done things’. She has a long upward hill battle to convince the owners that her suggestions will work and benefit the shops, but she is often tearful at the impressive results when the shops do their refit/change mentality.

Now you are thinking well you need budgets of thousands of pounds to do all that. NO YOU DON’T. You can get quick wins by doing some simple change arounds in the shop – take a look outside your shop. Are there filled bin liners outside? (Yes we have a local tattoo parlour which has over flowing bin liners right outside the shop door – now what does that say for cleanliness?) Is your A board looking tired with peeling paint? Have you cleaned the shop fascia lately? Does condensation on the windows block passer byers from viewing your shop? (I see so many shops and cafes with this problem and a simple solution is spending under £10 on anti-condensation spray) Could you invest in a pot of paint, roll up your sleeves and repaint your shop fascia?

All these are low to no cost ideas that every shop needs to take notice of which will result in:

  • standing out from the crowd
  • giving  a higher perceived value to your offer (if you sell luxury gifts and the outside of your shop is tired it won't give people confidence to come inside and part with their money
  • you will attract your target audience

 I could continue with once you are actually inside the shop but this blog is getting a life of its own and growing already!.....

Now back to Mary’s market traders in Bow – I am sure there was half and half interest in what Mary Portas could do, but the piece has hit the papers because negativity sells. We need a Shops Motivating Guru and you are looking right at her!  …Well see my Gravatar below!

We had a retailers meeting two nights ago as Promote Your Shop is leading the Independent Retailer Month Easter Egg Hunt in Colchester and how refreshing to have a room full of happy smiley people who really want to make a difference to our town by:

• getting to know one another, partnering up,  and understanding what each other sells
• sharing the expense on leaflet printing and drops and other marketing initiatives
• and best of all to have monthly meet ups where new and old ideas are bashed about and generally supporting each other

Check out our website: www.promoteyourshop.co.uk
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Monday, 4 February 2013

From Pop Up Shops to a fantastic new job!

Alina Isaev worked with me at my ecommerce business, HUMM Alpaca Knitwear (www.hummshop.com) as part of a government funded scheme for interns two years ago, and I am really proud to say that she has gone on to land herself a brilliant job as the SEO Copywriter and Social Media Manager at CarpetRight! See her tweets and follow her here! @carpetright

I took her under my wing and taught her about setting up pop up shops, how to deal with the public when selling – being approachable and friendly yet letting the buyers have space to browse, plus I helped her on her PR skills – and in return I had a truly loyal assistant who went out of her way to work at the fashion shows and events we organised. I really enjoyed giving her ‘on the job’ training, and am so pleased to see that along with her tenacity and natural flair she has been snapped up!

Here is her lovely testimonial in LinkedIn:

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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Retailers: keep current - watch those barcode Shopping Apps!

Have you seen today's Sunday Times The Apps List where they list 250 of the world's greatest apps? The apps are put into categories and of course the one I went straight to was SHOPPING APPS.

So the two that caught my attention for local retailers are the apps that let you scan barcodes. The first one RedLaser will identify places that sell the scanned product and list prices for immediate comparison, both in local outlets and online.

The second shopping app, ShopSavvy also scans barcodes but this one will find identical matches or cheap equivalents in your local area plus online of course!

So do you see a common thread with both of these apps? If you are selling an item that has a barcode, keep you eyes peeled for the app savvy shoppers who are scanning away in your shop. I have tried RedLaser and it makes a loud beep noise so that may be your give away ;-)

What should you do? Well instead of eyeing up these scanning mad shoppers with frustration and just waiting for them to leave your premises, I would recommend you go on the charm offensive and have a chat with the shopper (who will potentially be a bit embarrassed about having been spotted using your premises to do his/her research).

Approach the 'scanner' (the person scanning YOUR products) with the aim of converting them into becoming a SHOPPER in YOUR store.

How To Convert a Scanner into becoming a Shopper?

Greet the scanner with a smile and say something along the lines of "Hey that's a great new app isn't it? It's amazing the amount of technology that's being developed these days! What did the scan tell you?"
Note: All open ended questions and not confrontational  - you are just being curious as well as demonstrating that you are app savvy .....and you know their game!!!!

Next step:
If the 'scanner' person told you that the scanned product came out cheaper online, you can tell them  (in a calm and pleasant manner) that by supporting your local independent retailer they are keeping the money within the community*, and the other point is that by buying from their local store, if they have any problems with the product they can come straight back to you to get a refund or exchange as opposed to having to pack up the item, wait in the queue in the post office, wait for the refund bla, bla, bla.

In addition, in your shop, you can tell them you offer a free gift wrap service (could be a nice idea if you don't already do so - many online stores do) and you can personally advise them about the product's features and benefits as opposed to them having to read a screen.

By developing more of a rapport with your customer, finding out their needs and actually hearing how your prices do compare, you are establishing your shop as a friendly place to go with helpful staff who care and that one off customer will hopefully turn into a returning customer time and time again, and will spread the word about you products and services to their friends and family.

*Here is some background information for you to know:
The CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies) did some research for FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) about the value of a £1 spent locally – the results were compelling, sufficient to convince most people that when they shop locally they are genuinely having a positive impact on their community! They discovered that for every £1 spent locally around 50p70p of that money recirculates back into the local economy. For the same £1 spent out of town or online only 5p trickles back to the local community. When people appreciate the impact that their choice of where to spend can have we believe that more people will make more effort to spend more with local independent businesses.

What do you think? Do you scan before you shop?

We are here to help, contact Promote Your Shop if you'd like assistance with your shop's marketing.

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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Do Independent Retailers have a marketing plan?

Check out our initial findings from our Independent Retailers  survey here, then have YOUR say and let us know if you have a retail marketing plan, do social media and use customer marketing techniques and if you’d like help and support in these areas.

We will publish the full results of the survey at the end of January.

Amanda Ruiz of PromoteYourShop

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Friday, 18 January 2013

Is footfall your biggest worry? Fill out our Independent retailer survey to tell us more

We have put together a short survey for independent retailers so that we can better understand what retailers are looking for and to also identify some possible gaps in their marketing mix.

Please go straight to this link to take part in the survey and you may be in with the chance to win a gorgeous alpaca jumper from www.hummshop.com

Questions range from:

What keeps you awake at night about your business?

  • Footfall
  • Rates
  • Car parking fees
  • Staff
  • Council not helping us
  • Competition with the multiples

Do you do social media for your shop/restaurant? If so which platforms do you use:

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedI
  • Twitter
  • No, I don't do social media

Would you like to improve your knowledge on how to leverage social media in order to drive more footfall, customer loyalty and sales?

Do you use customer marketing techniques? If yes, please select from those below:

  • Loyalty scheme
  • QR (quick response) codes
  • Customer surveys
  • Offers and promotions
  • Email contact
  • Direct mail
  • We don't do customer marketing

Please advise if you'd like to learn about the latest trends eg Mobile App Loyalty cards, Instore tablets for customer engagement/retention, discount vouchers/codes

Do you do PR for your shop (ie do you contact the local or national press for free editorial mentions)?
Would you like to improve your knowledge on how to create a press release and distribute it to the press in order to get free editorial?

Do you think that by improving your visual merchandising you would attract more passing traffic?

How do you get most of your custom: Word of Mouth / Print ads / Radio ads / Passing traffic / PR / Google

Do you run promotions or events with your neighbouring businesses?

Survey link here

Monday, 14 January 2013

Example of GOOD customer follow up...

This company must have read my last post relating to poor customer follow up leading to loosing out on sales. Look at this letter that we received this morning: 

  • not only do they thank us for our custom
  • they are providing us with names of staff who can help out on any future enquiries
  • they tell us they will also follow up with a call to check we are happy
  • and lastly and very importantly for THEIR records and customer gallery (for their marketing) The Tile Stone Gallery ask us to send in any pictures of the completed work.
Score: 10/10 for customer follow up

Additional tip:
If they really wanted to push the boat out if we were super happy customers, when we get the follow up call, the Branch Manager could ask if we'd mind being filmed on a mobile phone or digital camera giving a 30 second testimonial in situ of me being raving fan about the service and the quality of the tiles. After all 2013 is set to be the year of the video! And think of the benefits to potential shoppers to see a genuine customer giving a positive testimonial not forgetting the essential SEO help they will get from the Google Spiders trawling about for potential searches for 'good quality tiles Colchester'. Win:win!!! 

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Friday, 11 January 2013

The power of the follow up for retailers

Retailers - do you follow up when customers make enquiries? Seems obvious but not always done and valuable work is lost...

For example, having moved house recently, we approached an independent retailer for a quote on curtains, they emailed through the quote (it was exorbitant) and they didn't call to check the quote had arrived so we didn't get back to them but HAD they followed up the written quote with a phone call we could have looked at further options and by offering a flexible customer service they could have got the job....

We're here to help.

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