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Guest Blog

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.


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 or call 01582 460990


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.

Ed Cookson Sarner International

GUEST BLOG: Experiential marketing & brands that get the story straight

Experiential Marketing is all rage these days, but it’s an older art of persuasion – Storytelling – that can really connect with your customers, suggests Sarner International’s Ed Cookson…

Behind the greats in business, there’s often an origin story. Whether it’s Steve Jobs and Bill Gates starting their computing empires from a bench in their home garage, or Richard Branson starting his first business out of a public phone booth, these are classic prologues for what is known in creative writing classes as ‘the hero’s journey’. They have gripped us since mankind first huddled around the fire, telling engaging, potentially life-saving tales of the tribe. We are storytelling creatures.

Hollywood screenwriting instructor Robert McKee argues that stories “fulfill a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living — not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.” Creating an immersive experience that tells the origin story of a product – and where it’s heading – can be an effective way to engage with customers on a deeper level than more traditional marketing methods. The key to making them work – the same as Hollywood blockbusters and tales around the campfire – is memorable, instructional storytelling that resonates with the audience.

There’s a grand tradition of using immersive experiences to establish brands, including the promotion of entire countries and their goods and services. Branding took a leap in the mid-19th century with the advent of World Fairs and Expositions. These events were a chance for the general public to get first-hand experience of the products, cuisine and customs of other nations and ‘travel the world’ in one place. Wildly popular at the time, Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition of 1851 was credited with influencing Britain’s architecture, art and design and even generating a new wave of interest in world travel.

Experiential marketing is still working. Developments in 2017 include Kodak’s new 9,000 sq ft Experience Centre, a €16m expansion plan for the Guinness Storehouse (Ireland’s most popular visitor attraction), Disney’s Star Wars Hotel, Mario Kart’s immersive attraction (timed for launch during the Tokyo Olympics), and even a new theme park inspired by footballer Lionel Messi due to open in China in 2019.

These days, companies are more likely to use immersive experiences to reach new and existing customers via theme parks, pop-ups that showcase brand innovations or visitor centres. Even for celebrities, institutions and IP-based products, telling the story of the brand now needs to be more engaging than a few boards of old photographs, a shelf of ‘packaging through the ages’ and behind-the-scenes How-It’s-Done videos. When your product is well established, how can the story go deeper?

That’s where sensation comes into the picture – be it Cadbury World’s Heath Robinson-style gurgling, purple ‘chocolate machine’ that gives visitors a taste of what’s in store, or audio-visual environments like the ‘Dark Walk’ at Bodmin Jail in Cornwall, which will use state-of-the-art theatrics to tells the stories of the prisoners that passed through the 18th Century prison, beginning in the dank smugglers’ cave, passing along the stormy coastline, on through a crime-ridden Victorian village all the way to the grimy, rat-infested cells.

Of course, it’s a good idea to make sure the story you’re telling isn’t a Tall Tale. Consumers are only ever a few clicks away from a deep dive into a company’s public profile. Visitor attractions ought not only to reflect the sensations you want your brand to conjure up with loyal and new customers, but also be able to go through the ups and downs in the history of your organisation and pluck out the tales that demonstrate what the company is really like and what the brand stands for. It’s OK to admit to mistakes (short-lived changes in brand recipes that caused public outcry, for example) – that makes you more relatable; more human.

When brands get it right, their visitor attractions morph into something beyond a marketing exercise and become tourist destinations in their own right. Places like Jameson Distillery, Pez Visitor Center and Legoland ask their audiences to travel and pay for a brand experience.

It’s your story. It’s yours to tell. Find an honest, engaging way to show people not only what or how, but why your company does what it does they will feel connected to your brand. That’s human nature.


GUEST BLOG: Becoming a more digitally mature retail marketer

By Jill Brittlebank, Senior Director, Zeta Interactive

It will come as no surprise to marketers and retailers that email is an effective marketing tool. We recently surveyed 3,000 UK consumers for our study Content, context and trust: identifying the golden customer opportunities for retail marketing and 74% of respondents stated that they have received emails as part of a retailer’s nurturing strategy.

A significant number (52%) have even gone on to make a purchase as a direct result of email communication. But, as retailers become more digitally sophisticated in their CRM approaches, how can they make email work even harder while integrating their communications strategy to make the most of other channels?

Often, retail brands are constrained in their marketing by legacy systems, disconnected data sources and, of course, pressures on their time especially as the demands placed on small, overstretched teams grow in line with the threat of digital competition. And yet it is clear from our research that shoppers place significant importance on stores giving them ‘added value’ when it comes to marketing communication. So how can retail marketing teams, whether at a large clicks and bricks retailer with big budgets to spend or at a small ecommerce business, use customer data to better inform their email marketing and beyond? The solution lies with automated, insight-driven and bi-directional data systems that enable timely and accurate predictions of your customers’ needs at a given moment, and give you the ability to respond to those needs automatically, shifting the marketing relationship to a trusted ‘personal shopper’ approach.

While the demand for such interaction is obvious, marketers seem to fall short on execution – when asked about their favourite retailers, either in store or online, only 40% of customers stated that they felt these stores and brands knew and anticipated their needs well. However, 67% of customers questioned said that they would be more likely to buy from a retailer who recognised items previously bought and made further suggestions.

At a basic level, retailers can employ simple recognition techniques like click and browse retargeting to drive customers to their site.  Further communications can then be tailored by segment, based on categories like price sensitivity, product and brand preferences. Combining this with customer demographic and event data, such as an abandoned basket, will provide context and create deeper bonds between retailer and consumer through a rich experience at key points in a customer’s engagement. For smaller marketing teams, significant insights can be driven from web events, as well as email engagement, to further fuel tactics that drive value. Larger businesses should consider how effectively data is centralised to enable consistent cross-channel experiences and where the most appropriate touch point should land.

We’ve found that retailers have a clear opportunity to retain their customers. A huge 81% in our survey stated they would be more likely to buy again from their favourite stores if recognised as a previous customer and offered discounts or money off products they had browsed in the past. It’s critical that retailers recognise the importance of connecting disparate data sources and ensure their customers have an experience that reflects their history with the brand. Customers have expressed a strong desire to be acknowledged and valued by their chosen retailers, so recognition and relevant rewards will help you stand out against your competitors.

It’s also important to remember that shoppers are not only influenced by marketing communications, but also by pressures on their time, the sheer plethora of brands and stores to choose from and the overwhelming number of options available to the modern customer.  The easier you make the experience, utilising all available data to guide the customer towards relevant options and point to the right product for them, the better your chances of becoming an anticipated presence in the inbox rather than just another message in the crowd.

The effectiveness of email as a retailer touchpoint can’t be ignored, and building on this with cross-channel campaigns will present fresh opportunities for standout marketing.  As stores become more data savvy and digitally-mature, they can integrate context-based techniques such as triggering messages that reach customers who are physically near stores to entice them inside.  This needn’t be arduous for the modern retail marketer.  Systems are now in place to streamline this process for time-pressured teams.

It is clear that the modern retail landscape offers a wealth of options for both store and shopper.  Potential exists for retailers to reach customers through a near endless variety of channels.  But it is the retailers who focus on harnessing methods to capitalise and act on their shopper data, and use it to drive personalised experiences through meaningful communications, that will stand the best chance of developing long-lasting and fruitful relationships with their customers.

Retail Offers

GUEST BLOG: How retail marketers can reap the rewards of an effective seasonal strategy

By Stuart Galvin, Business Director, smp

From January Sales to Shrove Tuesday to Singles Day to Christmas, more than ever marketers are run ragged by a brimming calendar of seasonal shopping events and trends.

Some brands are avoiding the big events completely, some are creating their own, while others are getting in there earlier and earlier just to achieve cut-through. Christmas displays in August sound familiar?

Tools are being created, such as Google’s Marketer’s Almanac, to help marketers navigate this ever-changing landscape. The digital yearbook leverages data, insights and consumer trends around key dates to help marketers get ahead with their planning.

However, while these tools are useful, they are not the be-all and end-all. Marketers need to take stock – and take charge – of their seasonal strategies.

First and foremost, timing is everything. This might seem very basic, but it’s something marketers often forget as they rush to pip their competitors to the post. With each and every shopping event, marketers need to know their target audience, understand what will motivate them, and target them with the right message at exactly the right time. Does a shopper really want to be prompted to stock up on Easter goodies when they haven’t even made it into Lent?

As such, rather than jumping on the band wagon of every event and risking ostracising audiences, brands are becoming savvier with their seasonal strategies. Bigger brands like Amazon, for example, often perform well during hyped-up shopping phenomenon like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2015, the e-tail giant experienced its best Black Friday sales to date; so, in 2016, it cleverly extended the sales period from a day to “Black Friday Week”, scooping up even more shopping activity.

But brands also need to think about context. Amazon and big, bold online shopping days make sense; but sometimes events just won’t work for certain brands. Asda, Ikea, Next and Homebase have all abstained from Black Friday. An Asda spokesperson said this was because its particular customers “wanted low prices throughout the festive season and not just for one day”. Its customers crave stability and strategy to help with their Christmas planning.

If the likes of Asda recognise some events simply aren’t right, no matter how economically prominent, smaller brands should take heed. Do they have the resources to take on certain events? Are sales and promotions competitively priced? Above all, what’s the point? Brands needs to ask what each shopping event would mean to its customers and their relationship with the brand. Consider the explicit Valentine’s Day cards pulled from the shelves of Paperchase this year. It was a step too far for the stationary stalwart.

That isn’t to say brands can’t have fun with seasonal shopping events. In fact, creativity should be encouraged, perhaps by exploring alternatives that fit better with the brand. In 2015, the Scottish Butcher held its biggest promotions in the run-up to Burns Night, while operating in-store tastings in Scottish branches of Tesco and Morrisons. The engagement was incredible, upping in-store sales by 40 per cent. Could this experiential approach be carried across borders, either by Scottish brands or non-natives, to surprise customers and generate buzz in other parts of the British Isles?

One of the biggest challenges in retail today is the explosion of channels through which people can shop, and through which brands can communicate with their customers. Physical retailers are often in the firing line, as ecommerce continues to grow at pace. However, seasonal shopping events are about capturing the spirit of the occasion, no matter the platform. Whether it’s Valentine’s rosy hues or the strawberries-and-cream Britishness of Wimbledon, the experience needs to be consistent and done with conviction.

The new shopping calendar can seem daunting to marketers, especially as retail becomes more global. Who knows where the next disruptive event might come from? No one knew, for example, that a Chinese celebration of singledom would, thanks to Alibaba, grow into the world’s biggest online shop-a-thon.

Rather than rolling out the same, timeworn strategies or getting blindsided by newcomers, now is the time to take stock. By assessing the landscape, cherry-picking events based on their value to both shoppers and for brand building, and planning accordingly, brands will ensure they play a more meaningful role for their customers, year in, year out.

C A Design

GUEST BLOG: Macro space planning tips for independent retailers, by C A Design

Whatever the size of your retail estate, macro space planning should always be based on fact. C A Design Services Director Guy Moates suggests ways for retailers to use data to optimise their stores…

The science of space planning for shops and stores can be an incredibly complicated world to explain. However, regardless of whether you are a small independent shop or a chain with hundreds of outlets, the difference between getting it right and getting wrong will have a fundamental effect on your profitability.

There are also many pieces of software available to address all parts of the process, but fundamentally the best practise is to analyse your profitability and shopper patterns before you plan your store. Whether you do this with software or by listening to your customers in the case of smaller retailers is irrelevant, planning should be based on facts.

Impact of location, facilities and customer preferences

Taking a pet shop as an example. Your decision on whether to stock and where to locate bulky and heavy products will be different when considering an identically-sized out of town store with an on-site car park in comparison to a high-street store without convenient parking.

Understanding your local clientele and altering the balance of space between cat and dog food if a local site has a sales track record of higher % feline sales then canine, could help maximise sales.

Accessing and reacting to information

Most large retailers aspire to a store specific space model where each shop in their portfolio has room to adjust its range to the demands of the location, shopper trends and shop size.

This is where larger chains have the advantage of more information. They can analyse sales and demographic data for individual sites and then cluster stores together through non-geographical criteria, to improve ranging and performance. However, smaller chains and stores can be more nimble – changing direction or stocking fashionable or innovative items as the opportunities arise.

Essential Space Planning Tips

And so, as one of the leading retail space planning companies in the UK working with a wide range of retail clients, here are some key space planning points to consider:


  • Promotional space – manage carefully and update often, this can help drive footfall and improve customer loyalty.
  • Understand your available selling space when negotiating supplier’s share of shelf space within your stores
  • In-store compliance – all the planning and software in the world is useless if in-store implementation is not 100% delivered to plan / planogram
  • Less can be more. Don’t overfill your shop with free standing shippers / display units


  • Know your best sellers and most profitable products (often not the same items) and ensure they are easy to find. Place associated impulse products close-by for additional sales opportunities.
  • Understand your range ‘tail’ and delist items that aren’t selling fast enough
  • Be aware of product cannibalisation when considering new ranges. It’s pointless stocking new items, if they take sales away from an existing range with no net gain.
  • Supplier funded promotions / display – larger retailers often ask their suppliers to sponsor or fund in-store activity or promotions – don’t be afraid to ask

Customers and Competition

  • Keep on top of trends and regularly visit your competition.
  • Understand your customer journey and enhance with signage. Surprise your customers with offers and new products where you can.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of human contact in all of this. We have clients where a good front of house member of staff can increase customer loyalty and add %% uplift to takings and profitability over time

Informed space planning requires knowledge of your products, your customers and your retail space and can be facilitated by specialist software. Successful implementation however can be challenging and needs commitment and communication from staff in-store. If all space changes are recorded and plans are kept up to date, decisions can then be based on accurate information and the impact of changes on sales and profitability can be understood.

C A Design Services offers an integrated store development service for our retail customers. We have in-house surveyors, experienced store planners, a 3d visualisation studio, specialist planning software StoreSpace® and an in-house software development team.

If you are interested to know how we can help you, please get in touch with Guy Moates on 01493 440444 or email


Guest Blog, Leon Edwards: Is this the last Christmas before online takes over?

It would have been hard to miss a retail story in the pages of last January’s news outlets. It’s not difficult to foresee the same for this New Year given the next eight weeks will be critical to many UK retailers. We’ve just seen Black Friday come and go, and the countdown to Christmas has just begun. If you read market analysts’ comments, their respective prediction is an 11 per cent growth on last year for both events an important statistic in itself when considering the beleaguered high street and its various woes; watch out the retailer that gets Christmas wrong.

Of greater importance to our brick and mortar stores is the continued rise of online sale. Black Friday, the sometimes maniacal, always bargained ladened US-style event, takes internet shopping to new heights. In 2015, estimates suggest £3-4 billion in retail sales over the period with as much as one third being spent online.

A similar trend can be seen throughout the whole Christmas shopping period, admittedly with a lower cyber-shopping focus. This has led to Christmas footfall reducing year-on-year – meaning fewer people in the shops. In fact, data suggests that the only increase we’ve seen in shoppers visiting physical stores is to pick up their ‘click and collect’ items.

If things continue, it won’t be long before the majority of our festive bargains are snatched up online. What will this mean for the high street and for retailers in general?

There’s a strong economic argument to eCommerce: no expensive property to fill and maintain leading to better margins, broader ranges and better availability. But, with the transparency that the internet brings, surely it’s just a race to the bottom where the lowest price and quickest delivery wins.

With stores you get interaction, entertainment and people. Not that people always help: a recent study we conducted found that of the 2,008 UK-based consumers polled, 68 per cent were put off by store staff ‘actively selling’ to them. Perhaps not a surprise when 89 per cent of 968 sales assistants we spoke to said they did not enjoy the experience at all.

It’s likely that this type of consumer sentiment isn’t helping in the battle against online, and if the trend continues, shops have much work to do to survive, let alone thrive.

I don’t think anyone is predicting the complete demise of the retail store just yet. They point at Amazon’s retail stores as a beacon of hope. But, the retail environment will change as a result of our changing shopping habits – it has to.

We are starting to see that transition already with augmented reality (AR) shopping experiences, multi-store layouts and ‘social’ retailing where a coffee and sit down might replace a pushy assistant.

There are many occasions that I walk back out of a shop empty handed even though I need the product(s) I’m shopping for. More help with wayfinding, product selection and speed of transaction is required. After all, part of the internet’s joy is the ease of finding and purchasing products.

Perhaps it’s time to borrow something, other than Black Friday, from our American cousins; the art of traditional retailing where the customer experience is all that matters.


Leon Edwards is the managing director of, a UK point of purchase company. It is a privately owned business that employs 55 people at its design and manufacturing facility in Northamptonshire. With an enviable client list from the retail and consumer goods world, they have exported to 34 countries since the Brexit vote.


Guest Blog, Annabel Daly: Personalisation – the next step in modern-day eCommerce…

Ask any eCommerce retailer how they strive to get ahead of their competitors and they will invariably tell you the same things. Some may focus on organic SEO, aiming to rank higher than the opposition for what they consider to be key customer search terms, whilst others may plough more time and monetary investment into pay-per-click advertising or email marketing.

It’s so easy, however, to think of our customers as one large populous of people rather than considering them as individuals. Technology is evolving, and today, more than ever, personalisation is coming to the fore.

According to Adobe’s Real-Time Marketing Study, 77 per cent of marketers consider “dynamic, personalised content” to be very important for successful eCommerce websites. So what exactly does this involve?

eCommerce personalisation can be broken down into three core categories: site search, product recommendations and automated email marketing.

Site search should be commonplace in all eCommerce sites, but a personalised solution enables you to quickly react to customers’ ever-increasing demands in seconds. For example, your Autocomplete feature should be more than just relevant search terms or products; it should have the ability to correct spellings, add synonym rules and allow content search, rather than just products. One step further, to avoid the dreaded “no results” page, is to show product recommendations and therefore encourage conversions.

Sometimes known as “personalised merchandising”, product recommendations allow you to personalise content areas for your website, such as the homepage banner or “you may also like” recommendations. These should be responsive, supportive of multiple content types (e.g. images or HTML) and varied – for example, based on your basket or previous purchases. The team at PureNet have recently released new software, PureClarity, to enable these systems to run themselves and determine the best content for the aforementioned content areas.

Finally, as mentioned previously, email marketing can be instrumental in driving conversions, but you can get one step ahead with personalised, automated email marketing. What differentiates  personalised email marketing from traditional email marketing is the ability to upload bespoke templates. Whereas automated emails may be sent to those who have abandoned their basket for example, personalised emails give you the freedom to insert product recommenders or personalised content.

The benefits of personalising your eCommerce site are virtually limitless. As a site owner, you should be wary of personalising not only your product recommendations, but also your content in general, ensuring you are targeting relevant customers and appealing to their interests.

Of course, the statistics speak for themselves: 75 per cent of us admit we prefer to use a retailer with a personalised experience. Moreover, from an email perspective, personalised emails improve click through rates by 14 per cent and conversion rates by 10 per cent – a true testament to the ROI of this marketing technique.

In the increasingly competitive world of e-Commerce, a business owner who makes his or her customers feel special is far more likely to succeed. Optimising your website for personalisation can be time-consuming, but ultimately will achieve a huge return on investment in terms of time and money. 


Annabel Daly is group marketing manager for Magento eCommerce and portal agency, PureNet. Annabel has worked within the eCommerce industry for many years across internal and client marketing, with portfolios including Krispy Kreme, The Royal British Legion and Illamasqua. Annabel has a particular interest in innovation including personalisation and conversion-focused design. 


Guest Blog, Tom Mankin: The reality of working in a family retail business…

The differences between family and non-family retail businesses may seem subtle from a customer’s perspective. After all, both kinds strive to deliver quality products at a profit, and provide the best service they can in an effort to encourage customers to return. However, if you take a peek behind the scenes and examine how these companies are run from an employee’s perspective, a lot of the differences soon become clear.

Size is, perhaps, the most notable difference. For the most part, family businesses can be a lot smaller than their non-family counterparts. When working within a family-run business, this can serve as a double-edged sword in terms of career progression. You can’t deny that the number of job opportunities within a business correlates to its size, with larger companies being able to offer promotions more frequently. The downside to this, however, is that it can lead to employees feeling like they’re a cog in a machine. Whereas, with family-run businesses, everyone knows each other and senior managers can take the time to get to know those working for them. This is a huge plus for both employers and employees, as it creates an atmosphere that helps workers to feel appreciated, which can have a positive impact on their productivity and wellbeing.

Working within a smaller business also allows employees to demonstrate their skills to the key decision makers and, if they use this to their advantage, it can benefit them hugely when jobs open up. Although, vacancies do tend to be rare due to the typical size of family businesses, and the fact that people feel appreciated and don’t wish to leave.

When deciding to work for a family or non-family business, you need to consider what you want to get out of your working life. If you wish to gain a title and progress quickly through the ranks, a larger company is likely to suit you better. On the other hand, if you would rather be given the time to develop your skills and grow within a role that you can make your own, a family business is more likely to provide you with the means to do this.

While it may sound cliché, or even slightly obvious, family businesses do usually try to adopt a ‘family atmosphere’ within their company, which means they’re willing to invest in their workers and provide a solid support system for employees. This often leads to a lot of senior management positions being filled by people who joined as juniors and have gradually worked their way up the ladder, as these kinds of companies tend to recruit internally, before searching further afield for new team members. Of course this isn’t a tactic used exclusively by family-run businesses, but employees within these companies do have more of a chance to demonstrate their skills and get noticed.

There is usually a much greater sense of autonomy within family businesses, as the close proximity of staff to senior management allows for a lot more discussion about changes to policies and working practices. This, again, is an advantage for both sides of the table, as it encourages creativity and can stop restrictive one-size-fits-all policies, which are often an unnecessary evil within larger business models, from being implemented.

While family and non-family business are similar in many ways, employees of family-run companies often find that life behind their shop-front offers greater freedom and a warm environment where hard work is more likely to be noticed and rewarded. There’s pros and cons to working for both kinds of businesses — anyone looking for a new job just needs to consider what they want from their working life before choosing which is right for them.


Tom Mankin is the digital marketing administrator at Charles Clinkard. He joined the company part-time as a student and then the digital marketing team on a permanent basis after completing his master’s degree at Northumbria University.