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Stuart O'Brien

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Food and clothing prices drives retail sales through September

Retail sales growth was driven through September thanks to higher food and clothing prices, figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG have shown.

Like-for-like retail sales rose by 1.9% in September, higher than the 0.4% increase in September 2016. Total sales climbed by 2.3%.

“Retailers have worked hard to keep a lid on price rises following the depreciation of the pound, but with a potent mix of more expensive imports and increasing business costs from various government policies, something had to give at some point,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC.

“Spending is still being focused towards essential purchases; with consumers buying their winter coats and back to school items, but shying away from big ticket items such as furniture and delaying the renewal of key household electrical goods.”

On a like-for-like basis over the three months to September food sales rose by 2.5% and 3.5% total, with non-food sales rising by 0.5%, or 0.9% total.

Paul Martin, KPMG UK’s head of retail, said: “With potential interest rate rises on the horizon, shaky consumer confidence and ever-increasing levels of household debt, uncertainty remains.

“We’re now moving into the final quarter, which will ultimately define whether 2017 has been a good or bad year for retailers.”

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Co-op steps up Nisa acquisition with £143m offer

The Co-op Group has stepped up its move for convenience grocery chain Nisa with a £143 million offer, subject to approval from the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA).

The offer consists of buying 100% of the shares in Nisa for up to £137.5 million, plus a further £5.5 million in associated costs.

Nisa, which operates as a member-owned wholesale and retail company, has unanimously recommended the offer to its shareholders, who would receive an equal initial payment, along with a deferred share payment payable over a three-year period and additional rebates payable over four years.

“The Co-op offers the right blend of buying capability, convenience expertise, and respect for the heritage of our business, to enable our members to fully thrive in this new partnership,” commented Nisa chairman, Peter Hartley.

As part of the deal, the Co-op would also take on the existing Nisa debt of £105 million.

Discussing the deal, Co-op Food chief executive, Jo Whitfield, said: “Over the past three years, Co-op Food has been completely transformed through a convenience-led focus on delivering great value products for our members and creating real value for them and their communities.”

“Co-op and Nisa have achieved so much on their own to support local communities, but together I believe we can go from strength to strength.

“If our offer is accepted by Nisa members and approved by the CMA, we can deliver a win-win for two member-led, community-focused organisations, and in the process create a distinctive footprint within the growing UK convenience retail sector.”

Co-op plans to keep Nisa’s 3,200 stores as a standalone business and brand.

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Morrisons staff sue over data breach

Grocery giant Morrisons is being sued by thousands of current and former employees in a class action over damages brought about from a data leak.

The case at London’s High Court follows a breach of security in 2014, when a former senior internal auditor working at the retailer’s Bradford HQ posted the payroll information of nearly 100,000 employees on the internet.

The information included bank, salary and national insurance details, phone numbers and addresses.

Andrew Skelton apparently bore a grudge against Morrisons and was jailed for eight years in 2015 fro fraud, securing unauthorised access to computer material and disclosing personal data.

The new case is being viewed as the first data leak class action in the UK, with legal experts agreeing that the case has potential implications for every individual and business in the country.

The two-week trial is concerned with the use of liability, involving claims brought by 5,518 current and former Morrison staff, who allege the company failed to prevent the leak.

The claimants also allege that the data leak exposed them to identity theft and potential financial loss, with Morrisons responsible for breaches of privacy confidence and data protection laws.

The lawsuit is being brought bylaw firm JMW Solicitors.

Discussing the case, Nick McAleenan, partner at JMW Solicitors said: “The court will decide whether Morrisons bears any legal responsibility for the misuse and disclosure of the payroll information of the many thousands of people bringing claims in this case.”

Morrisons denies liability.

RPM Shopper Marketing

GUEST BLOG: Six ways to supercharge your shopper marketing

By John Viccars, Head of Strategy, RPM

Cutting through in an increasingly cluttered retail space to connect with shoppers is something that all brands are battling with. So how can you make your brand stand out and connect with shoppers? With ever more complex paths to purchase it can be hard to know how best to give your shopper marketing a boost. Through our experience working on many shopper campaigns over the years, we have come up with our six ways to supercharge your shopper marketing.

  1. Align with retailers’ agendas

Have you ever felt like other brands know things you don’t when it comes to activating outsider retailer templates or how much incremental space they have in store? It could be because they are just better at aligning (perhaps without even knowing they are), with their retailer’s agendas. Over our 24 years of RPM we’ve learnt that aligning with the strategic agendas is an essential for all our best shopper campaigns. If you don’t win over retailers by aligning with their agendas, it will be very hard to win with shoppers. It will also be hard to change your shelf positioning,  break free from retailer templates or reduce the amount of time your products are on price promotion. We’ve been developing ways to gather all the impactful insights to help us align with retailers’ agendas – from mapping their business landscape and what opportunities that might generate, to understanding each retailer’s unique shopper audiences and what effect that should have on our overall strategy. We call these bespoke strategic retailer plans an ‘RPM Retailer Bible’ – allowing brands to build stronger, more collaborative and longer relationships with retailers.

  1. Think shelf-back

When POPAI found that 76% of purchase decisions are made in-store, the industry stirred and started prioritising more the point of sale. As marketers, we should be influencing people right across the path to purchase, but if in-store is where the actual decision is made, isn’t that the true marketing battleground? P&G call it the ‘First Moment of Truth’ – the moment in which our audience have their first opportunity to truly engage with what we are trying to sell to them. So if in-store is the real battleground, we need to think back from the consumer’s ultimate barrier to purchase at the shelf-edge first, mapping the path to purchase backwards from there. Mapping back from this ultimate moment of truth ensures the hardest barrier to overcome is kept at the heart of the campaign strategy, leading to a better focus on the right problems to solve and more effective conversion.

By recognising an insightful shopper purchase barrier and developing work that meets that unmet need, you can avoid the at-shelf environment becoming a graveyard for great NPD and undeniably brilliant communications ideas that appeal to us all as consumers, but fail to cut through and impact shopper behaviour. It will also help your relationship with your customers, who will of course be motivated by a big-spending TV campaign, but day in day out, they’re focusing on maximising the return from their shelf space. They are much more likely to look favourably on those brands that make it their business to close the purchase loop in-store, at shelf, often unlocking discretionary display ops.

  1. Unlock the true power of occasions

Occasions are powerful ways to unlock opportunities at shelf and with consumers. They are the mental shortcuts that can make a huge difference to your shopper marketing. The way our memory works, occasions are one of the most efficient and easy to build memory structures for brands. We have an episodic memory – storing events and experience- which enables us to create mental shortcuts between things and moments. Think of a sunny summer afternoon in a park, or Christmas – what are the brands that come to mind? Context helps our brains to create long-lasting associations between brands and occasions. This is especially important in the retail environment because shoppers shop with the occasion in mind. Depending on the shopping mission (impulse, weekly etc…) behaviours and motivations change, but the consumption occasion is the determining end goal for our shoppers. Providing the right occasion cues at the right time can sway consumers, triggering them to pick your brand for that specific occasion, which is why brands must strive to create durable behavioural loops and mental triggers that flex from occasions to shopper environments. Don’t just leverage occasions, make the most of them to create virtuous circles.

  1. Learn to spot effective shopper creative

To stop, engage and convert shoppers to purchase you need great creative ideas. Spotting them can be hard, but there are some characteristics that endure across great shopper creative. Firstly, great shopper creative is bold – in cluttered retail environments, it’s hard to stand out, often the single-minded messaging clearly executed will win out. Secondly, it pays off to be brave, so don’t be afraid to try something truly original. If the strategy behind it is strong, the creative can be brave. Concepts that really leverage desirability, like limited edition packs for example can work really well, as well as digital concepts that should not be ignored like mobile phone push notifications, social media conversations or digital displays. Most importantly, let your brand personality shine through and pull on the heartstrings of your target market – whether you are the instigator of fun or the bringer of light to the world. Being true to your brand will give you a much better chance of converting.

  1. Add value to trade away from deals

Getting trapped in a series of deals can do serious damage to your brand if you don’t find new ways to break the cycle. Deals aren’t going away, and they are often how shoppers navigate the store. However, the truth is that brands rarely get credit for their investment in price promotion as shoppers tend to believe it is retailers that they have to thank for cheaper products, not brands. Deals also reduce the opportunity for your products to be anything other than just practical solutions to functional problems. So while retailers benefit, it’s really a no win for your brand equity and long-term shopper behaviour change. When we shop we are thinking about occasions and unmet needs, so there is a real opportunity for emotionally engaging added value that can do far more for your brand than price cuts. There are endless opportunities here – for example, we’ve delivered festival tickets to raise awareness in the drinks category, as well as recipe cards and glassware. The best bit? They all involve investing less than you would on a standard piece of price promotion. When the story is based on deeper insights and better, more engaging brand experiences – you will create more powerful connections with shoppers without damaging your brand.

  1. Get out more

Only when we experience the things affecting our brands in real terms can we really understand them – letting them guide valuable strategic change. However, it can be hard to find the time to follow all the new trends and get out there and experience them. Whether it’s the latest cutting-edge tech being used in new flagship stores, underground consumer trends set to affect categories next year, or underground brands beating their biggest competitors on retail shelves, they will all affect your brand and you need to know about them. It’s vital to keep a track on what’s going on outside of your own brand, and these trends can provide inspiration and guidance to boost your shopper marketing. Getting out and experiencing these trends yourself will help you to convert in any retail environment as you know the things affecting your shoppers today, and what is likely coming around the corner.

To win with shoppers in retail you need to find ways to cut through all the noise and connect with them. These six ways to boost your shopper marketing will help you to do this, improving conversion in retail environments whether online or offline.

Prosper

GUEST BLOG: How retail design can create experiences that connect with customers emotionally

Retailers who harness the power of emotion can better connect with their customers. Prosper’s Gareth James looks at why and explains ways to deliver an emotionally-rich shopping experience…

Research in the fields of neuroscience and behavioural economics is unveiling more about how we make decisions. Beyond logical reasoning, there’s something deeper at play on a subconscious emotional level.

An emotional experience is more impactful and memorable, so retailers who tap into their customers’ emotions are finding more resonance… and success. The next generation of shopper is increasingly buying more from brands they feel strong emotional connections to.

Experiences made for sharing

Today’s connected shopper often makes purchasing decisions based on opinions in their social network, so they crave something memorable and worth talking about. As do the influencers that people look to in their network for advice and opinions – such as bloggers and vloggers.

Emotionally-driven shopping experiences are powerful in inspiring people to fall in love with brands and become passionate advocates by sharing these experiences and driving valuable loyalty and sales.

An advantage for physical retailers

Meaningful emotional experiences engage all our senses and offer human interaction. Physical stores can go beyond showroom retailing to offer compelling ways to engage with customers emotionally and entice them away from online shopping and back onto the high street.

The growing trend for pop-up shops also offers the opportunity for experimentation with concepts and emotional experiences in physical spaces, to better connect with people.

So what retail design tactics can you use to build an emotionally powerful shopping experience?

Appeal to feelings

Ask how you want a customer to feel and how you can you appeal to their emotional motivators. Is it a desire to stand out from the crowd or to enjoy a sense of wellbeing, thrill or belonging?

Customers all like to feel unique and important. So the move towards more personalisation, with interactions tailored to a customer’s individual needs, will generate stronger feelings and emotional bonds with brands.

Tell stories

Humans are hardwired to love stories… they entertain, educate, help us escape and create memories. Stories also make you feel things so use storytelling to connect with customers.

Recount your brand’s rich history, express what you stand for, showcase provenance or convey future possibilities. Retailers like Lacoste and Dr Martens have museum-like features in their London flagships to recount the narrative of their brand.

Immerse all the senses

Sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells all enhance an emotional experience. Glade’s Museum of Feelings, a pop-up sensory exhibit in New York, is a great example. Five scented rooms were designed to generate different feelings, to showcase the connection between scent and emotion for the air freshener brand.

Wellington boots brand Hunter creates an immersive experience by evoking wet-weather events and festivals in its London store, with audio and visual effects of heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Augmented reality (AR) also offers a wealth of opportunity to stimulate our senses and will become an important part of retail’s future as technology progresses.

Provide a sanctuary

As well as adding stimuli to excite, retailers can offer a calming sanctuary to escape to and linger. Leisure facilities within shops can aid relaxation and wellbeing, which leaves a positive emotion that is associated with the whole shopping experience.

Major retailers like Primark are acknowledging the importance of space and dwell time by offering coffee shops and customer seating that allow more relaxation in store. Elsewhere, Ted Baker now has coffee bars, barbers and beauty salons in their clothes stores.

Look to entertain

The human mind naturally craves intrigue and entertainment so encourage that sense of curiosity within a space. Inject theatricality with lighting, clever visual merchandising and interesting interior design. Or install an actual theatre to create a memorable experience, like Selfridges did last year.

Touchscreens and interactive features in store can turn a space into a kind of giant playground that encourages exploration.

Take fun seriously

Playfulness is a positive emotion to play on, that taps into powerful childhood memories.

Canadian apparel retailer Dish & Duer, have a ‘performance playground’ in their Vancouver store, with treehouse, hammock, monkey bars and swing.

On a practical level, shoppers can move around in garments to test how they suit an active lifestyle. However it also evokes fun and freedom from childhood, as well as the thrill of adventure! Those are all emotions we’d like to experience more.

If you would like to find out more about how Prosper works with retailers to create an emotionally-rich experience, please get in touch by email hello@madebyprosper.com or call 01582 460990

Etailing Summit

Claim your VIP place at the eTailing Summit 2018

The eTailing Summit will return on July 10th 2018 at the Hilton London Canary Wharf, once again providing the leading platform for senior eCommerce professionals to meet with trusted solution providers, learn from the sector’s preeminent thought-leaders and network with peers.

The 2017 instalment of the event was the most successful yet, with attending delegates from the likes of Olivia Burton, Feelunique, Molton Brown, notonthehighstreet.com, Huggle, Kimberly Clark, Thomas Cook, IKEA, Belstaff, Perry Ellis, Antler, River Island, Samsung, Royal Caribbean, Dixons Carphone, Wickes, Hotel Chocolat, Drake’s, Fortnum & Mason, Signature Gifts, Charlotte Tilbury, Skinnydip and many more.

A bespoke itinerary of meetings with solution providers is created for each delegate, based on their selections, so there’s no time wasted. In addition, delegates have access to insightful and inspirational seminars, plus full hospitality is provided throughout the day.

It’s a great opportunity to benchmark and gather information on new services and solutions within eCommerce, all in one place.

Of course, for 2018 the event will remain completely FREE to attend for eCommerce professionals – to register for your VIP delegate place click here, or contact Katie Bullot on 01992 374049 or email k.bullot@forumevents.co.uk.

Alternatively, if you’re an eCommerce solutions provider and would like to showcase your products and services at the eTailing Summit, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email c.ross@forumevents.co.uk.

Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

Confirm your place at the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

We only have limited delegate spaces available for next year’s Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit, which takes place on February 5th & 6th at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted.

Are you able to attend?

As a reminder, each complimentary VIP invitation includes a personalised itinerary with trusted industry suppliers, an inspiring seminar programme on relevant hot topics, opportunities to network with your peers, plus full hospitality throughout including meals, overnight accommodation and an invitation to our gala dinner with entertainment.

Please fill in an online form here to book your place.

Or, for more information, contact Emily Gallagher on 01992 374085 / e.gallagher@forumevents.co.uk.

Alternatively, if you’re a supplier to the sector, contact Courtney Saggers on 01992 374088 or c.saggers@forumevents.co.uk to find out about a range of event partner packages.

Christmas

GUEST BLOG: Christmas 2017 for retailers – Careful planning for paid social advertising success

By Rob Kabrovski, VP Accounts EMEA, Adaptly

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be stressful for retail marketers. That pressure is for a good reason: UK sales amounted to almost £43 billion in 2016, with shoppers spending in excess of £805 million on Christmas Day alone.

With consumers facing messages and advertisements from all different directions, it takes careful planning and strategising to execute campaigns that will break through the noise.

It is possible for advertisers to own the Christmas season timeline, making this year’s campaigns the most effective yet.

Dominate the Pre-Season Period

Christmas conversations often start as early September but there’s a huge spike in interest once Halloween has passed.

Almost half of UK shoppers claim to have planned most of their Christmas purchases by early October, but just over 15% will have actually finished their shopping at the end of the following month.

Make sure to get ahead of competitors by carefully creating a content calendar and owning the pre-Christmas planning period. This is a key time for driving awareness and increasing product consideration, as consumers are in a much more relaxed state-of-mind. Christmas season is saturated with ads and it’s important to get a head start to reach your target audience before ad fatigue sets in.

Users increasingly turn to social platforms to plan their Christmas purchases and activities. The sooner you start adding content, the more likely you are to get noticed and stay top-of-mind throughout the entire period.

Test and Learn

Use the October pre-season period to do your testing. Iterate on creative and ad formats to identify what resonates best with your customer – setting you up for success later on. This is a perfect time to identify which products, assets, and messaging your audiences are responding to, in order to optimise top performers closer to the actual date.

Focus this time on driving brand awareness and create excitement in the run-up to major shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Seed your messages to core users – customers, fans, site visitors, and email subscribers – then reach your entire target audience on the actual day of a sale.

But remember that announcing promotions too early can delay consumers from making a purchase. 60% of UK customers say that they have hesitated to buy a Christmas related item in the hope of picking up a bargain later on.

Bid Aggressively

The competition tightens towards the end of November, in particular around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That means you’ll have to be willing to bid aggressively to get a bigger share of users’ wallets.  This can have an effect on your usual sales targets, so use historical data to determine the best timeline and appropriate budgets for your business.

Even though this period may be slightly pricier than usual, you’re reaching users while they are most receptive to offers and gift ideas, and while purchase intent is at its peak.

Most consumers are actively looking to make purchases, so creative elements should be focused on product demos or inspiring users with gifting ideas. At this point, use ad formats that drive traffic to site and bring customers closer to purchase.

Drive Sales with Retargeting

In the immediate run-up to Christmas, driving sales becomes more important than ever. A total of £25 billion was spent online between Black Friday and Christmas Eve last year, and compared to 2015, ecommerce orders saw a 51% increase for the week leading up to the 25th.

Leverage the audiences you have already driven to your site; and dynamically retarget users based on product pages they have viewed.

Put the right items in front of shoppers at the right time and personalise your content based on users’ previous behaviour.

Don’t forget customers who are likely to purchase your products for their own use; retarget them with items they viewed earlier in the year. Entice these users with the opportunity to buy their own perfect gift – now available through a Black Friday deal or with a special Christmas discount.

Christmas can be a stressful time for marketers, but it also presents ample opportunities to connect with customers while purchase intent is high. As long as you plan your activity well in advance and focus on driving users through the purchase funnel, this is definitely the season to be jolly.

www.adaptly.com

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Retail enjoys strong showing in Top Track listing

A flurry of retailers have been featured within the weekend’s Sunday Times Top Track 250 listing.

Top Track 250 ranks Britain’s private mid-market companies by sales, with required growth in profit or sales.

Retailers (with rankings) featuring in the Top Track in 2017 included:

  1. Holland & Barrett – Health food and supplements
  2. West Retail Group – Kitchens/electronics
  3. The Hut Group – Online retailer
  4. Lush – Cosmetics
  5. Waterstones – Books
  6. Day Lewis – Pharmaceuticals
  7. Kurt Geiger – Shoes
  8. Caffe Nero – Coffee Shops
  9. Dreams – Beds
  10. AllSaints – Fashion
  11. Fat Face – Clothing
  12. Charles Tyrwhitt – Clothing
  13. Matchesfashion.com – Luxury fashion
  14. The White Company – Lifestyle
  15. Richer Sounds – Audio Visual
  16. Dobbies Garden Centres – Garden centres
  17. The Works – Value retailer
  18. Footasylum – Footwear and fashion
  19. Buy It Direct – Laptop and appliances
  20. Reiss – Fashion
  21. Cath Kidston – Lifestyle
  22. Paperchase – Stationery and cards

The Top Track 250 is produced by Fast Track, the Oxford firm that researches Britain’s top-performing private companies and organizes dinners for their owners and directors to network and meet its sponsors. For the Top Track 250, companies must have operating margins that exceed two per cent. Sales must be growing year-on-year by 10 per cent or more for companies with the lowest sales; this proportion of growth is graduated by five per cent for the firms with the highest sales. Sales must be no more than £650m and are taken from the latest accounts, excluding shares from joint ventures and associate companies.

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Will Toys R Us return to public ownership?

Troubled toy retailer Toys R Us has laid out plans that could see it return back to public ownership.

The ambitious strategy, named ‘Project Sunrise’, would mean the company improves its customer service while revamping older stores and closing those which don’t create profit.

Speaking about Project Sunrise, chief executive David Brandon said the emphasis was on children being able to try out toys in store, something that they had been restricted in doing so in recent times.

“We want toys out of the box and into the hands of kids,” commented Brandon. “We know we need to do it. We haven’t had the capital to do it.”

The company currently employs 64,000 staff, of which under new proposals under Project Sunrise, all would get a pay rise alongside reduced delivery times and a much more improved customer service offering.

Once the toy retailer completes the bankruptcy process, Brandon confirmed that the chain would no longer be owned by Bain Capital, KKR and Vornado Reality Trust.

It has also allegedly not been ruled out that creditors could convert their debt into equity with a public sale.