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Stuart O'Brien

PURPLE TUESDAY: High Street businesses ‘losing millions’ by shunning disabled consumers

UK businesses – including High Street brands – are losing millions of pounds of revenue every year by turning their backs on disabled consumers.

That’s according to a poll of people who consider themselves to be disabled, conducted by Purple, the disability organisation behind Purple Tuesday.

The survey found that more than half of respondents are struggling to make purchases of a product/service due to their disability. Disabled young people (aged 16-24) fare the worst – more than three-quarters of them say they have found it difficult to buy goods online or in person due to their disability on more than one occasion.

Four in five disabled customers say businesses could do more to be accessible and more than half (56%) agreed that improving staff understanding about different disabilities would encourage them to spend their disposable income, estimated to be £249 billion a year.

Respondents state that retail is the most accessible business to purchase from, followed by banking and hospitality/leisure/restaurants.

The research comes as businesses and organisations prepare for ‘Purple Tuesday’ on 12 November, a day which celebrates UK companies that are improving the customer experience for disabled shoppers. Major names taking part include Sainsbury’s and Intu.

Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple, the disability organisation behind Purple Tuesday, said: “While many UK businesses and organisations are stepping up to the mark and making the changes needed to improve disabled customers’ experiences, far too many are not.

“This is a huge mistake, not least because by turning their backs on disabled shoppers, they are losing out on millions of pounds of revenue every year.

“It should simply not be the case that one in two disabled people struggle to make purchases online or in person. Small changes can make a big difference to the customer experience; we want to help organisations have the confidence to improve their services for disabled people.”

Disabled consumers told pollsters that inaccessible and unusable locations, poor customer service and a lack of understanding about disabilities were the main reasons they struggled to spend their money. 

Over 1 in 5 said that hiring more disabled people would make them more likely to make a purchase and some stated that “wider aisles” or “lighter doors” would have the same effect. The findings support previous research, which shows that less than 10% of organisations have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers.

The potential of the purple pound is clear – disabled people say they spend on average £163 on retail per month, £117 on banking, £98 on travel, £69 on insurance, £78 on hospitality (such as at restaurants or on leisure activities) and £19 on gym or health activities. 

Organisations that register for Purple Tuesday will benefit from free resources from Purple on topics such as website accessibility and customer service training. In exchange, Purple asks that business make a minimum of one commitment to improve the customer experience for disabled people. 

For more information on Purple Tuesday, please visit www.purpletuesday.org.uk.

Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay

Do you specialise in Retail Design? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Retail Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on different parts of the retail and eCommerce markets – in October we’ll be focussing on Retail Design.

It’s all part of our new ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help retail and eCommerce buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a Retail Design specialist and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Courtney Saggers on c.saggers@forumevents.co.uk.

Here are the areas we’ll be covering, month by month:

Oct – Retail Design
Nov – Window Displays
Dec – Digital Signage

For more information on any of the above, contact Courtney Saggers on c.saggers@forumevents.co.uk.

Join your peers at the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

The Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit takes place on March 9th & 10th, matching senior shopfitting & VM professionals together with suppliers and solution providers.

It’s free to attend and you’ll also have the opportunity to attend insightful seminar sessions, while all hospitality – including overnight accommodation, meals and refreshments, plus an invitation to our networking dinner – is included.

The 2020 Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit takes place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted and already we have registered some of the biggest names on the High Street, including Booths, Co-Op, EE, Quiz Clothing, Regatta, The Range, WH Smiths, Wilko and more.

Would you like to join them? Register for your free VIP place today!

Tesco brand strong, but UK retailers behind global rivals

The value growth of the UK’s top retail brands is falling behind the leading global retail brands, according to the 2019 BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable UK Brands ranking announced today by WPP and Kantar.

While the UK retailers in the Top 75 grew their combined value by 4% over the last year, their performance is significantly lower than that of the retail brands in the BrandZ Global Top 100, which grew by 25%.

It also represents a slowdown compared with the UK retailers’ 2018 value growth of 11%.  

The retail sector dominates the UK Top 75 again this year, with 14 retail brands making the ranking: Tesco, Next, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Ocado, Boots, Co-op, Very, Waitrose, John Lewis, WHSmith and littlewoods.com. Online-only players Ocado and Very grew the most – by 35% and 21% respectively.

Without them, the combined value of the UK’s top retail brands would have increased by just 2%.

Of the retailers in the Global Top 100, Amazon was the biggest hitter, increasing its value 52% to US$315.5 billion. 

Highlights: The 2019 BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable UK Brands shows:

  • Tesco is the most valuable UK retail brand (no.7) worth $9.2 billion, followed by Next (no.22), Asda (no.23), Sainsbury’s (no.24) and Marks & Spencer (no.27).
  • Ocado (no.34) grew its value fourth fastest of all the brands in the UK Top 75, rising 35% to $2.0bn.
  • The total value of the brands in the UK Top 75 (in all sectors) fell by 3% over the last year.
  • Outside retail, the other brands in 2019’s top 5 fastest risers are Deliveroo, (+54%; no.50; $1.4bn), Costa Coffee (+48%; no.47; $1.5bn), BrewDog (+40%; no.57; $1.2bn) and Innocent (+35%; no.51; $1.3bn).
  • Among three newcomers to the Top 75 this year, WHSmith enters at no.68. Aston Martin (no.69) and Halifax (no.70) are the other two.

The BrandZ Top 10 most valuable UK retail brands 2019

Rank 2019BrandBrand value 2019 (US$bn)Brand value changeRank 2018
7Tesco$9.2+1%7
22Next$2.8+4%25
23Asda$2.8+8%28
24Sainsbury’s$2.8+4%26
27Marks & Spencer$2.5-18%22
33Morrisons$2.1+6%36
34Ocado$2.0+35%49
40Boots$1.7-7%39
45Co-Op$1.5+2%48
52Very$1.3+21%58

Note: BrandZ is the only brand valuation ranking that combines validated financial data with consumers’ opinions to calculate the value a brand contributes to the business that owns it.

UK retailers are facing a raft of pressures, many driven by the changing needs of consumers who have high expectations when it comes to convenience, range, speed of delivery and competitive pricing. As a consequence, a record number (net 2,481) of well-known names disappeared from the UK’s top 500 high streets in 2018, including Maplin, Toys R Us and Poundworld.

Other retailers, in particular fashion brands, are moving from high street sites to new shopping areas such as train stations, airports and malls that attract high footfall and charge lower rents and rates.  

Some of the UK’s retail brands live off their fame, but are no longer distinctive or relevant to today’s consumer, according to Henry Heywood, Head of Brand at Kantar:

“The mantra here is that you cannot live off fame alone. Salience has kept brands buoyant, but without meaningful difference this is not sustainable; salience will drain away, along with value. To avoid losing more ground, retailers must reinvigorate themselves – invest in long-term brand building, by communicating to a less engaged, less loyal and more demanding consumer about why they are still relevant.”

BrandZ’s analysis also reveals the success of Irish brand Primark – not in the UK ranking –which has flourished on the high street, driven by its ability to create meaningful difference.  Built around value-for-money fashion, the brand has developed a strong emotional connection with young shoppers online via celebrity influencers and other paid partnerships.

This year’s BrandZ UK Top 75 highlights that online players Ocado and Very are the main drivers of growth. Recognised by shoppers as innovative, dynamic and responsive, they have built strong emotional connections with consumers through their customer service, range and pricing – and, ultimately, are good at telling their story. 

Heywood added: “While the death of the physical store is exaggerated, traditional retailers are having to reinvent themselves for a new generation of shoppers, connecting digital platforms and online experiences with the physical offline experience. But now with the advent of online to offline, such as the launch of the Amazon Clicks & Mortar initiative in Manchester, there will be additional pressure on an already beleaguered high street.”

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Here are 60+ reasons why you should attend the eTailing Summit

We’ve got more than 60 good reasons why you should be attending the eTailing Summit, which takes place on February 11th 2020 at the Hilton London Canary Wharf.

This unique event has been tailored specifically for the ecommerce sector and will give you the opportunity to boost your business and client portfolio in 2020 and beyond.

At least 65 senior ecommerce professionals will be attending the event specifically to source new suppliers. If that’s not enough reason for you to attend, here are five more…

  1. Host a series of pre-arranged, face-to-face meetings with senior buyers sourcing new suppliers
  2. Enjoy more informal networking with our 60 delegates
  3. Hassle-free – no stand build to worry about
  4. Promote your products & services to potential new clients
  5. Full contact details of all delegates post-event

Our registered and pre-qualified delegates include representatives from:

  • BiGDUG
  • Brastop and Curvy Kate
  • Bulk Powders
  • Deckers (Ugg)
  • Dyson
  • Great Rail Journeys
  • Maidenhead Aquatics
  • Minor Figures
  • NURVV
  • PhD Nutrition
  • Sass & Belle
  • Soak.com
  • Tata Global Beverages
  • Tifco Hotel Group
  • Trinny London
  • Walgreens Boots Alliance

Find out more about attending by clicking here!

Christmas

7 things to plan in September to get Christmas right in grocery retail

Ian Hall, COO, Atheon Analytics shares pragmatic, real-world and data-driven advice to help prevent grocery retailers and suppliers from making avoidable mistakes and missed sales at Christmas...

You don’t have to be a retail expert to foresee an uplift in turkeys, alcohol, and mince pies through December, but in reality almost all products see a dramatic increase leading up to Christmas – simply put, people buy more of (almost) everything.

The week leading up to Christmas is by far the biggest sales week of the year for almost all suppliers (unless you are in the Valentines or Easter egg business), but an often overlooked fact is that the week after Christmas normally sees the lowest sales of the year. Fresh suppliers, in particular, need to consider the impact on waste and replenishment orders that comes from people having plenty of food in, living off turkey sandwiches for 7 days, and shops that are barely open.

The graph below is a typical annual profile of weekly sales for a supplier that has ‘core grocery’ products (Jan-Dec):

Let’s start by making a key distinction – Christmas products vs seasonally affected products:

  • Christmas-only products are those which are ranged temporarily, and are sometimes even themed (such as dog toys that look like reindeers) – they often come in as a job-lot, depending on shelf-life, and are cleared immediately after Christmas.
  • Seasonally affected lines can have just as big an uplift in sales at this time of year but are ranged all year round (e.g. Stilton cheese). Almost all lines in a store are seasonally affected in some way at Christmas.

For Christmas-only products, there are limits to what you can do at this time of year, and seasonal product forecasts tend to be self-fulfilling i.e. with products sourced from the Far East, the volumes are typically agreed in March, shipped through the summer, into retailer depot in September, and in store at the start of October (much to general public outcry!).

Everything that is shipped to the retailer gets sold (sometimes on markdown post-Christmas), and best sellers can run out early – unless you are Mystic Meg you will have either guessed at (sorry, ‘forecast’) too much volume, or too little. The balance for the supplier is to avoid missing sales by supplying too little versus getting hammered for markdown rebates in January when the excess stock is cleared at a fraction of the RRP.

All other products in store will be affected, to a greater or lesser degree, by the general uplift in sales; but why does this matter if stores order more every time they sell one? Three important reasons:

  • If suppliers don’t forecast accurately they may not be able to produce enough to replenish orders
  • Depots are incredibly busy through December – it is not always easy to get delivery slots (if you supply washing powder you are going to be de-prioritised vs Christmas crackers and mince pies)
  • Most of the sales uplift occurs in the 7 days leading up to Christmas – by the time products are replenished, it’s over

We would probably all recognise these typical Christmas shopper habits:

  • 4 weeks to Christmas – we load up the cupboards
  • 1 week to go – buy all the fresh stuff, and impulse/distress purchases
  • 1 week after Christmas – we live on turkey sandwiches, and the shops are not open for normal trading hours
  • January – everyone renews their gym memberships, has some vague thoughts about ‘dry-January’, and lives off soup and slim-fast

But of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

There are some subtle trends to be aware of:

  • The “mother-in-law effect” – most consumers trade up to more premium products in December. Nobody quite knows why – maybe it’s because you have more visitors, or want to impress the in-laws, but people buy more quilted toilet rolls and branded washing up liquid
  • The shopper is not always the consumer – of vital importance all year round, but amplified at Christmas; for example, most beer is purchased by women but consumed by men. Take this one step further when you consider pet food, and further still when you realise that people buy gifts for friends with dogs and cats! So whilst you might not have thought about it, sales of dog toys rise disproportionately in December (and not just on Christmas-only lines – even things like tennis balls may quadruple in sales). Just because dogs don’t eat more in December does not mean that pet food is a static category from a sales perspective!
  • Weather makes a difference – a cold snap will lead to panic-buying (even things like dishwasher salt and cat-litter to clear snow!)
  • Christmas Day falls on different days of the week – it is really important to know which day Christmas falls on (yes, I know it’s December 25th, but which day of the week is that?). Christmas is a Wednesday this year; that probably means that people will be doing their ‘big shop’ on the preceding weekend (Friday/Saturday/Sunday). Very few people leave their main shop until Christmas Eve but, equally, if Christmas falls on a Friday not many people are going to buy their sprouts and double cream 5 days before. This has a big effect on the last few days of sales, and is extremely important for suppliers of short-life products. In 2017 the peak trading day was Friday 22nd – this will probably extend to Saturday 21st this year
  • Depots have fixed capacity – retailer depots will be bursting at the seams, and booking slots are limited, so you need to be precise with delivery planning and highly reactive to traffic challenges – get on the front foot and talk to your retailer customers in advance
  • Planning and forecasting varies by category – some categories are harder than others to get right. Some can be forecast at the category level, for example if products can be easily substituted, and are impulse purchases, such as dog toys – if one toy runs out, chances are that the shopper will buy a different one. In other categories, forecasting only makes sense at SKU level – if you run out of sprouts, people won’t simply buy broccoli as a substitute, and I for one would be dismayed to be offered Dairylea with my glass of port just because the shop was out of Stilton
  • Waste and Availability remains a delicate balance – the age-old balance between availability and wastage is never more important than at Christmas. You don’t want to run out of stock and lose sales to competitors at this key trading time, but excess stock will turn into waste in the days after Christmas, or 7 days, 21 days, 30 days later, depending on shelf-life

So what – what can you do with this insight?

  1. Monitor sales daily – it is no good reviewing on a weekly basis and not being able to react in time
  2. Collaborate with your retailer now – share your forecasts for December, and share analysis from last year – poor availability can be eliminated with better forecasts, but time and time again we see suppliers losing sales in December because their lead times do not allow them to react quickly to sales that could easily have been anticipated. Get the stock through the depots and allocated to store ahead of the sales spike!
  3. Use detailed historic data to forecast – blend sales and availability information to get the best picture you can of true demand. Where appropriate, ensure that you forecast at SKU, not category level; Stilton and Brie do not behave the same as the cheese category in general
  4. Monitor (depot and store) stock not just sales – you cannot react quickly enough to sales in late December, so track stock levels and use these to predict potential availability and waste issues
  5. Manage stock run-down on seasonal and short-life SKUs – remember those days after Christmas when the stores will be closed, and nobody is shopping
  6. Plan replenishment and ‘business as usual’ trading for early January – unless you sell Weightwatchers products or Baileys
  7. Analyse your data to win more business – analysis in January is the best way to predict order volumes for next year, and the earlier you do this, the more effectively you can begin to collaborate with the retailers

Prices fall at retail as consumers spend less

August shop prices fell by 0.4% compared to a 0.1% decrease in July, according to latest figures from the BRC and Nielsen.

This is below the 12- and 6-month average price increases, both of 0.3%, and is the fastest rate of decline since June 2018.

Non-Food prices fell by 1.5% in August compared to July’s decrease of 1.2%. This is below the 12- and 6-month average price declines of 0.6 and 0.7%, respectively. It is the fastest rate of decline since June 2018.

Food inflation eased slightly to 1.6% in August from 1.7% in July. This is below the 12- and 6-month average price increases of 1.8% and 1.9%, respectively.

Fresh Food inflation accelerated in August to 1.4% from 1.2% in July. This is below the 12- and 6-month average price increases of 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively.

Ambient Food inflation slowed significantly to 1.8% in August from 2.4% in July. This is below the 12- and 6-month average price increases of 2.3% and 2.6%, respectively.

Overall prices were pushed further into deflationary territory by Non-Food goods that saw prices decline at a faster pace in August. Out of the seven Non-Food categories, three were deflationary.

The BRC says weak consumer spend and intense competition kept price increases well at bay, with many retailers using discounts, especially for basic items (which are oversampled in our index). Case in point, prices for five categories – DIY, Furniture, Clothing, Electricals and Other Non-Food, are below their August 2015 prices.

Inflationary pressures are receding for some Food categories too. Promotional activity by supermarkets slowed down the rate of price increases for Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Sugar & Confectionary and Bread & Cereals. Meanwhile prices of some Fresh goods declined in response to market developments. For instance, meat prices have been falling for a fourth consecutive month in August, as declines in global meat prices late last year have been feeding through into final consumer prices.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, said:
“Consumers were the real winners this month as prices fell at their fastest rate in over a year. Prices of non-food goods fell at a faster rate than both the previous month and the 12-month average, while food inflation eased slightly due to higher levels of discounting from supermarkets.
“Weak consumer spending and stiff competition has kept prices down in the UK, however a disruptive no-deal Brexit, which would raise the cost of imported goods, could reverse this trend. In the interests of both consumers and retailers, the Government must redouble its efforts to find a workable agreement with the EU that would avoid a no deal scenario.”

Mike Watkins, Head of Retailer and Business Insight, Nielsen, said: “August is often a difficult month for retailers made more challenging this year by unseasonable weather early in the month, and we have seen the return of vouchering by many supermarkets and some non-food retailers bringing forward end of season discounts to help drive sales. Consumers remain uncertain about when and where to spend but the good news is that any inflationary cost pressures that may be building in the food supply chain, have not yet reached shop prices.”

Shopping Mall

Retail business rates to rise by £170m in 2020 – Study

The UK’s High Street retailers could be facing a £170m increase in business rates next year.

That’s according to analysis of available data by real estate specialist Altus Group, which says the total business rates rise in 2020 is likely to be in the region of £660m, based on an expected adjustment +2.1% in line with September inflation.

If correct, it’s yet more financial pressure on the High Street, something that the industry is already lobbying the government to address.

Last month fifty major retailer demanded the Government takes action to fix the ‘broken business rates system’. In a letter to the new Chancellor, Sajid Javid, retailers called on the Government to put business rates at heart of the promised new economic package.

The letter, coordinated by the British Retail Consortium, was signed by major retailers including the CEOs of supermarkets, food-to-go, fashion, homeware, and department store retailers.

The letter asked for four fixes that would address many of the challenges posed by business rates:

  • A freeze in the business rates multiplier;
  • Fixing transitional relief, which currently forces many retailers to pay more than they should;
  • Introducing an ‘Improvement Relief’ for ratepayers;
  • Ensuring that the Valuation Office Agency is fully resourced to do its job.

Altus Group’s Head of UK business Rates, Robert Hayton, reiterated the point, telling PA: “With major retail and hospitality businesses reducing their estates and headcount often citing high level of rates as a contributory factor, I urge the Chancellor to take the bold and ambitious step of being the first Chancellor to freeze the multiplier since the national business rates system was introduced in 1990.”

Digital Customer Engagement Summit – can you join your peers?

There’s a free VIP place reserved for you at the Digital Customer Engagement Summit. Can you join us?

15 October 2019 – Hilton London Canary Wharf

This unique event is entirely FREE for you to attend – simply reserve your place here for the opportunity to:-

  • Source new innovative and budget-saving suppliers
  • Learn from inspirational seminar sessions hosted by industry thought-leaders
  • Network with like-minded senior professionals
  • Enjoy complimentary lunch and refreshments

RSVP now to avoid disappointment!

URLs ‘most important credibility factor’ when it comes to eCommerce

A ​study​ by ​Panda Security​ surveyed 1,000 Americans, asking them what the most important credibility factor is when making a purchase online.

The survey found that:

●  29.3% of respondents cited a ​secure URL (https)​ as the most important factor

●  18% of respondents cited a ​testimonials and reviews​ as the most important factor

●  8.6% of respondents cited ​familiar methods of payment ​as the most important factor

●  7.3 % of respondents cited ​trust badges​ as the most important factor

●  4.9% of respondents cited ​available contact info​ as the most important factor

●  4.4 % of respondents cited ​website design​ as the most important factor

Panda says that while an ecommerce site should have all of these credibility factors to keep it secure, it’s also important to note which ones consumer’s value. The top two factors were a secure URL (https) and testimonials and reviews, so be sure you have both on your site.

For more information on these credibility factors, read the full study ​here​.