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Hello and thanks for visiting our blog - here you will find interesting articles on what's happening in the world of point sale, visual merchandising and display innovation.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Top 10 Christmas Adverts of 2013

It's that time of year when the retailers release their Christmas adverts. We always look forward to seeing what our favourite retailers will come up with, especially the ones we work with throughout the year to install their promotional displays. We've chosen five retailer and five supermarket adverts that are memorable for various reasons.
M&S has outdone itself this year with a story book fantasy adventure for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, entering a magical world as Alice in Wonderland and exiting as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. The 'Magic & Sparkle' advert, featuring Helen Bonham-Carter as the Wicked Witch of the West, looks like a tantalising trailer for an epic adventure!

The Debenhams 'Wishes made Fabulous' advert takes us on a vaguely nostalgic journey through London, capturing Christmas in the capital whilst reminding us of the wide range of brands available in the department store.
The John Lewis 'Bare and the Hare' advert is like a Disney animation, seeing two best friends journey through the woods to Christmas celebrations. The theme is all about the gift of giving, with a rather touching moment where the hare leaves a thoughtful present for his bear friend in hibernation so he can join him for the party on Christmas day. There are already several spoofs of this on you tube.
Harrods 'Everything You Want, Anywhere You Want' advert is like an old black and white film. Set on a railway platform with a glamorous young woman disembarking from a steam train after arriving back from her London shopping trip. She's counting out her parcels from Harrods with the help of a dashing young gentleman who gallantly finds a lost little present.
Boots sees a misunderstood 'hoodie' teenager dashing through the snow looking rather shady like he could be up to no good, but as it turns out he's actually leaving gifts anonymously for all his nearest and dearest. It remains unclear how he obtained these gifts at this stage, we'd like to think it was paper round funded, although seemingly that didn't stretch to affording wrapping paper.

The supermarkets have a mix of reinforcing their heritage, family values and financial value, all competing as usual for the big Christmas shop.
Asda is focusing on their price guarantee offer this year with snowmen in colourful scarves depicting the four major supermarkets. It's a wonderfully simple ad' and really gets across their '10% better off' assurance with the bigger and better smiling ASDA snowman, suitably attired in a green hat and scarf.  

Tesco chose to show the meaning of family at Christmas as if through video camera footage, starting with a young family (with granny in tow) in the seventies and progressing through the eighties and nineties to 2013 (minus the gran but with baby bump). It's quite emotive at the beginning as it does remind those of a certain generation how Christmas was when we were kids.
Sainsbury's have several adverts from the one below detailing various family escapades in putting up the tree, to Jamie Oliver food recipes. Their theme is all around the 'Moments that make Christmas' captured very well in the 'Homecoming' advert, where mum and two kids are singing a Christmas carol for the camera when soldier dad walks in and surprises them all.
Morrisons 'Go on - it's Christmas' advert has Ant and Dec tucking into a decadent Christmas dinner whilst gazing in the general direction of a little singing ginger bread man in uniform. He is then joined by an army of miniature bakers prancing up and down the table, reminding us all of the indulgences to come over the Christmas period.
The Co-operative 'Everything Your Need For Christmas' advert has chosen to focus on the heritage of the brand with their 'Here for you for life' motto and shows a woman blissfully walking from a store through an energetic snowy street scene and serenely into her party full of Christmas goodies.
The M&S advert nailed it though and remains our personal favourite for the retailers. For supermarkets we enjoyed the ASDA snowmen for its simple yet effective message. We have enjoyed working with all of our retailers this year, ensuring Christmas and other seasonal events are also a magical experience in store as well as on the Television.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Retail Predictions for Christmas 2013

Things are looking up for Christmas 2013 if the recent reports in the news are to be believed with some forecasters predicting that this year will be the best Christmas for retailers since 2007.
Market Research Company Verdict has predicted that consumers will be spending £2 billion more than they did in 2012. That's welcome and happy reading for the retail sector. These figures show expected growth of up to £88.4 billion this quarter of which £36.4 billion is likely to be on grocery and £52 billion on non food items.
Sales are already up by 0.6% this September compared to August which was lower than anticipated due to the weather. According to the Office for National Statistics sales are up by 2.2% compared to September last year.
All of this is good news as strength in consumer spending is generally a reflection of the wider economy. With house prices on the up it's looking like consumer confidence is returning despite the USA problems with the debt ceiling and government shutdown shaking confidence in world markets.
Some of the reasons Verdict have given for this upward trend in spending is more job creation, a baby boom recession, PPI refunds and the Post Office float. Although wages remain low, which has reflected in the fall of food sales in supermarkets.
It is thought that many sales will be left to the last minute with Monday 23rd December expected to be the busiest shopping day. Online sales are increasing as more people shop around for bargains and take advantage of click and collect services, allowing for greater confidence in online shopping as it cuts out the risk of last minute missed deliveries.
As a result of the recession baby boom Christmas spending is going to be big for childrens items. With John Lewis M.D, Andy Street, expecting them to have the best Christmas ever here is the John Lewis top 5 best selling toy predictions for Christmas 2013:
The Mini Kitchen (£50) ~ LEGO Creator Winter Village Cottage (£89.99) ~ Furby Boom (£59.99) ~ John Lewis Spy Watch and Pen set (£15) ~ Doc Mcstuffins Doctors Set (£19.99)
As our Christmas roll outs are about to start it's our busiest year yet! We're seeing retailers investing in making the most of the anticipated consumer spending with wonderfully creative displays which we'll be installing up and down the UK in the coming weeks.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Menswear - Now The Biggest Growth Area in Retail!

Men's apparel has led retail growth in the last couple of years and is expected to grow faster than other categories such as electronics or music.

In the UK this market has grown by 12 per cent in the past five years and is worth £10.4bn, according to the study by Mintel.

The market research group believes the market will maintain this growth and rise by 11 per cent between 2012 and 2017. (source)

Online shopping appeals to men and many retailers are now waking up to the fact that department stores and shopping centres are designed specifically with women in mind and quite off putting for the male shopper. As Ben Lerer, founder of men's lifestyle website, Thrillist says “Men don’t hate fashion, they just hate shopping the way it’s designed for women,” and he has a good point.
“The young generation of guys love to shop, they love to talk about the brands they like and they really care about how they look.”

Online shopping seems to suit the way men shop and has accounted for a lot of the growth, although women's online sales still double those of men. However men's online sales are growing at a faster rate than women's with the growth gap set to increase.

It's not just online retailers that are taking advantage of the boom in menswear, luxury brand menswear is a growth area and bricks and mortar flagship stores are opening all over the world's fashion centres. Here in the UK Dolce and Gabbana have opened their second men's only flagship on Bond Street, London and Alexander McQueen have opened up a men's only tailors in Savile Row, London. Whereas before these high end luxury fashion brands had menswear as an addition to the women's wear ranges they are now recognising the potential new growth market and investing accordingly with designer brands like Gucci, Dior, and Ralph Lauren all opening men's stores across the globe.

As retailers respond to men's shopping habits and recognise this growing market in the young and affluent professional we shall see more choice for men on the high street follow too. We look forward to installing more men's wear displays in this rapidly expanding market!


Thursday, 22 August 2013

A New Retail Experience - The Leisure & Community Led Shopping Environment

There's a shift in retail environments happening and Tesco is leading the way by looking at alternative uses of their huge supermarkets, having discovered that shoppers prefer smaller supermarkets and more frequently shop online they are now left with space to develop in their Extra stores.

Tesco opened their first new concept Extra Store in Watford, one of the biggest stores in their estate, on the 12th August bringing in new shopping and eating experiences. As well as developing the home ware and new look boutique clothing areas Tesco are also set to open family friendly restaurant Giraffe in 12 stores across the Tesco estate, having recently bought the chain for £49 million. Alongside Girraffe Tesco are offering the artisan coffee experience Harris and Hoole within stores and a deli style bakery experience with the Euphorium Bakery, The Bakery Project. They are also looking at offering cookery classes, baby gyms and yoga classes free of charge, and being more community led with some of the uses of space. It's almost like they are becoming the new town centres!

UK Managing Director, Chris Bush commented: 'We’ve spoken a lot about our vision to create compelling retail destinations in our larger stores; places where customers come to spend time and meet their friends and family. Watford is the first store where many of our innovations and ideas have come together and it’s great to see it all under one roof. Watford represents a fundamental change in the way that people are doing their shopping. More and more of our customers are shopping for leisure; they want to browse for clothes, eat a meal or grab a cup of coffee, as well as do their weekly shop. It offers us a glimpse into what stores of the future might look like and we’re really excited to be sharing that with our customers.'

Meanwhile Mary Portas has recently been discussing how retail has to change on the High Street and become more community focused, much in the same vein as Tesco's concept, offering a hub for the community in the empty shops around the retailers. The aim is to keep our town centres alive by attracting shoppers with crèches, health clinics and other service based businesses, as part of her on-going mission to save the High Street.
“We have been obsessed with high streets being retail. In the future we know that cannot be the case. I would imagine about 30 per cent needs to be the case,”
“We need a new vision, we need to trial new ideas and we need to give opportunities to new businesses. Those could be businesses that are about well-being, health and sports.” said Mary Portas.

So it looks like the future of retail in bricks and mortar terms has to embrace the community and attract people in for experiences whether that be eating, drinking, socialising, exercising, and accessing services alongside retail environments. An evolution of sorts with Tesco trail blazing the way in reaction to consumer trends and needs.
As people move away from the everything under one big brand huge aircraft hanger style supermarkets and frequent independents for the shopping experience, Tesco responds in kind offering a similar experience in-store but with prices that cannot be matched by smaller retailers. Harris and Hoole has for example come under much criticism for masquerading under its original small indie coffee chain roots when actually having since partly been bought out with 49% reportedly now owned by Tesco. It's now out there with the chain being developed within the Tesco Extra stores themselves.

So as supermarkets invest in smaller convenience stores with new openings they are left with what to do with the larger parts of their estates..and smaller more personal shopping experiences are offered under one roof.

We can only wait and see if shoppers will respond well to these new concept stores, there's certainly been a lot of thought and investment in refurbishment and I do think they will be successful. Whether the High Street will evolve in the way Mary Portas and No. 10 want is another matter, perhaps these new stores will be yet another prohibitor of the revival of the great British High Street.




Friday, 26 July 2013

How Rising Food Prices Will Impact on Retailers

We're already half way through 2013 and have seen some of the expected rise in food prices, however there are more on the way with this year predicted to see the largest hike in the cost of food and grocery items for a long time.

Mark Price has been preparing his Waitrose customers to expect "massive" rises in food prices as has Tesco Boss Philip Clarke, warning of escalating food costs over the next decade and the era of cheap food being over. J Sainsbury are getting involved in government funded research into agricultural practises that will benefit the food industry and invest in more locally grown food with an eye on the longer term future of sustaining a much larger demand for food.

The food price increases currently are environment led with wet weather in the UK and parts of Europe and drought over in the USA, both of which have caused crop failures and difficulties for farmers, seeing UK food inflation increasing. Combined with recent poor harvests globally in large arable growing nations such as Russia and the Ukraine stocks are at an all time low. 

The meat industry has also recently been hit by scandal and retailers are addressing consumer concerns by investing more in UK supply chains, which again has cost implications. Consumer research has indicated however that we would be happy to pay more for meat products if the farmer was the beneficiary.

Longer term the global economy will impact on food prices as the world population keeps growing rapidly and demand outstrips supply. Dietary changes in developing economies and growing middle classes in China and India also impact in pushing up food prices. As Philip Clarke has said Tesco are now competing with global retailers when buying in regions such as South Africa, whereas previously they were the only buyers.  The crude oil and food industry are intrinsically linked as one pushes up the price of another - all of which impacts on living costs for the consumer.

So what does this all mean for our retailers?

As the average family feels the squeeze of rising prices their shopping habits change accordingly. Retailers see less loyalty as people shop around looking for the best bargains, supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl are really benefiting from the recession and attracting shoppers from the big four.

Branded products also suffer as consumers look for the best value for money with unbranded or supermarket own brand products. People have less brand loyalty as they look for the offers and discounts and switch brands accordingly. The use of technology in store allows shoppers to see if they are really getting the best value for money.
Part of the reason food prices have been cheap for so long is a mixture of low cost imports and supermarkets pushing down prices in price wars. As the imports are becoming more expensive and production costs increase retailers have no choice but to put up their prices. Co-Operative are already feeling the effect on their food sales, seeing a decrease in profits in the last four trading period.

As prices increase pressures on retailers to make sure that your pound is spent in their store is not a bad thing from a POS and display point of view. More in store promotions need advertising and that means a healthy continued supply of print and display materials.

Retailers will have to work harder to show consumers that they offer the best value for money and that bargains can be had. I think we'll see a lot more of the BOGOF and other multiple type promotions, greater rewards for loyalty cards encouraging shoppers to stick with one supermarket and reap the benefits. Focus on customer care and added value experiences in store will attract shoppers as the likes of John Lewis have proved in their business model.

We are also seeing supermarkets tightening up on their supply chain to find extra savings and increase profits. Closer monitoring of their estates and POS needs to ensure materials are not overproduced and discarded where it is not needed. This is an excellent way to save money and it all starts with site surveys and store audits, which we are completing more of as retailers look at ways to save. A little investment up front can save millions down the line as print supplies are streamlined and more accurate.

Interesting times ahead - there's no doubt the era of cheap food is indeed over and how retailers react to that will probably see some change in the current dynamic of the supermarket giants.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Showrooming And The Retail Revolution

There have been quite a few articles about the modern phenomenon of 'showrooming' recently, but can it really be blamed for the demise of the High Street?
Showrooming is where shoppers visit a store to try out the products before looking online for a better price and buying elsewhere.  I think we're all guilty of it, especially when making larger considered purchases such as electrical items.
Research by design agency Foolproof found that 24% of people showroomed while Christmas shopping - and 40% of them took their business elsewhere. (BBC News Website)
The downfall of High Street brands such as Jessops and Comet have largely been blamed on showrooming and as Jessops went into administration staff hung a sign saying "Jessops Staff would like to thank you for shopping at Amazon". However the High Street brands can compete as Dixons have shown with recent growth in their tablet sales in store.
Some stores overseas are now charging showrooming fees for customers wishing to come in and browse. Some speciality brands will be having less stores and more of a showroom type store to combat this trend as more and more sales are driven online.  It is ever more crucial now to be an omni-channel retailer and change the old retail model to suit consumer habits. On the flip side online retailers may well look at opening showrooms on the High Street with online retailers such as ebay opening seasonal pop up shops and Amazon looking into having a High Street presence.
Lots of multi channel retailers offer the option of ordering your goods online and picking up in-store  instead of waiting for a delivery, which might be missed. This example of using the bricks and mortar and online retail channels effectively by giving the customer flexibility and a quick turnaround on receiving items. It looks likely that these will be the survivors of the retail revolution that is happening at the moment, driven by technology at our fingertips and economic pressures. 

Book shops,  beauty and electrical retailers are the most at risk and retailers are quickly realising that they need to compete and close sales in-store. Some tactics retailers are utilising are offering added value services  and price matching, free wi-fi using technology to encourage customers to use their smart phones in-store, ipad or touch screen points.
The trouble is how many UK retailers are already embracing this new way of shopping? Can they compete with so many online retailers offering the same products at excellent prices? Are they ready to change and offer consumers the experience they want?
One thing is for sure we have seen some iconic brands fall to the wayside because they were not quick enough to respond and change with customer shopping habits and any retailer that isn't already implementing a showrooming strategy will be at risk of also falling behind and losing its customer base.
We are installing more and more interactive information points and display materials designed to encourage customer interaction online and with the brands social media. There are lots of brands getting it right and making sure the in store experience fits with how customers want to shop and we are happy to be working with those brands to ensure that bricks and mortar is still an attractive prospect for consumers.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

What's app you say? Easter fun in-store!

The last couple of years has seen a change in the interactivity of point of sale signage and mobile technology. As companies find their feet with the use of apps, with varying degrees of success, it seems the supermarket chains have really found a way to make it work this Easter.
We recently installed Easter floor graphics nationwide across Asda stores which work in conjunction with the Easter themed app aimed at encouraging shoppers and their children in-store.
Once the Asda shopper app is downloaded, customers can use it to follow the Easter bunny around the store. At the end shoppers can take pictures of their children, upload it and be eligible to win a £100 prize.

It's one way to keep the kids happy whilst in-store and certainly will be encouraging plenty of Easter themed sales.

Tesco's have a slightly different take on it and have an online Easter egg hunt using Street View on Google Maps. Thousands of eggs are hidden - find three and win a chocolate prize and then hide some yourself! With golden eggs promising the chance of winning a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2s.


Thursday, 31 January 2013

2013 - A Year of Change for Retail?

We're a month into 2013 and already we have four major chains in administration. There's no doubt harder economic times have an effect on the High Street but I think these stores are also now outdated as consumer shopping habits have changed, preferring online services across all of these industries.

Most of us keep our photographs in digital formats these days and prefer to shop around for the best deals online. Amazon had a booming Christmas, reporting record Christmas takings of £13 billion so it's no surprise the High Street is suffering. Blockbuster Video is also a victim of being pushed out by Amazon owned Lovefilm, as well as other services such as Netflix, allowing films to be streamed online or posted out directly, as is HMV with consumers preferring itunes or other mp3 or mp4 downloads. It's the same for electrical retailers - we may well go in store to have a play and a look at the item we want but we'll still go and see what the best deal we can get online is.

As we embrace the digital age the way we have always shopped will change, and harsh economic environments only serve to make that happen sooner rather than later. There is some hope for the likes of HMV as the music industry doesn't want to see its only high street chain go but it really will be paying lip service to the iconic brand, and likely will see less stores across the UK.
With expensive rents and rates the High Street cannot be as competitive with companies that have less overheads and extensive distribution channels. The lack of UK based tax revenue is another issue entirely, however it doesn't seem to have affected Christmas sales figures for certain companies.
Retail has seen many changes over the years - consumerism drives that change, whatever the economic climate. For the big brands it's about flagship stores, retail parks, and shopping centres, and of course we have the supermarket dominance which make installations all the more innovative and interesting as we fill larger spaces. I think we'll see the High Street change and shrink as big brands steer towards the above, driving rents down on the High Street and making room for independents and a whole different kind of experience on the High Street.