Pledge your Support for Independent Retail in 2013 #indieretail

The end of a year is always a time for reflection, and also for setting goals for the year ahead. In my reflections I’m looking at how far the “Support for Independent Retail” campaigns have come in such a relatively short space of time and I am going to be asking YOU to make a pledge to support independent retail in 2013.

The Support for Independent Retail Campaigns – Independent Retailer Month, Independent Christmas…

In January 2012 I was dashing from meeting to meeting, trying to engage support from national organisations for what was going to be the 2nd Independent Retailer Month in the UK. I had no idea it would be so well received, and by so many, I just thought the team and I would give it our best shot. As it had such a great take up I realised we couldn’t let the momentum lapse and wait a whole year to create that buzz again. The outcome was a decision to create a new campaign, to “Celebrate an Independent Christmas”. I can now reflect on that too, and I’m still stunned that something that was just a mere musing in early August managed to whip up enough support to get over 50 towns, UK-wide, creating Christmas Shopping Crawls. If you weren’t aware of the campaign you can find out a bit of background via www.indiechristmas.co.uk.

About the “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” campaign

The purpose of the Independent Christmas campaign was to get business owners really working together, as a team and as a local business community, with the common purpose of attracting shoppers back to their local retail centres. The aim was to encourage consumers to divert some of their Christmas spending to independent businesses – not only retailers but all those who served consumers – cafes, restaurants, salons etc.

And it seems to have worked. The feedback from shoppers, communities and traders has been extremely positive. We’ll certainly be doing it again in 2013. What was interesting was to see how those who were cynical at the outset were pleasantly surprised by the results. Consumers really enjoyed the concept to, we hoped they would, it’s inspired by something called “gamification” – essentially taking something that is considered mundane and turning it into something fun, something with a bit of a challenge or competition around it. Some of the businesses who didn’t get involved were soon kicking themselves for not participating – a number have already said they will definitely get on board this year, which is great!

Regular, repeated re-engagement of local people will help to keep them coming back

All these campaigns and initiatives work well for those who put in the most effort, energy and enthusiasm. Those who don’t get into the spirit of it don’t get as much benefit, but even by taking part they have more of an opportunity to connect with the community. It’s very sad to hear stats such as that recently reported in a study by by O2 Priority Moments and BIRA – 16% of independent retailers don’t expect to survive 2013. So many retail business owners are feeling completely deflated, sales are down, bills are up, and it seems that it’s only going to get worse. That’s why these campaigns are so important. We don’t offer a “golden bullet” but with sustained, repeated activities that really engage the local consumer, step by step, we hope to make a difference. The good news is that however disheartened they feel most smaller retailers don’t want to give up without a fight!

Ensuring local retailers are front-of-mind when local people need what they have to offer

You’d be wrong to assume that by taking part in one of the campaign events that you’ll get an instant uplift in sales. You might, but you might not. Consumers have become disenchanted with high streets and with local retailers and our aim is to provide the platform that enables retailers to re-engage the local people, your local shoppers, to earn back their trust and to make them feel safe to part with their hard-earned cash. Whilst you may get a small increase in sales as a result of being involved in the activities it’s the longer term benefit that adds the most value. For example, traders involved in Christmas Shopping Crawls had the opportunity to meet people who potentially never knew they existed – really helping to raise awareness of their brand. When customers visited their shop they were able to showcase their product and impress with their friendly, warm service. Not all customers wanted to purchase there and then, some were browsing, others focused on completing their shopping crawl map – the allure of winning the prize was compelling… but that didn’t mean they were time-wasters. Every interaction with a potential customer matters, and, when that consumer has a need for what those retailers offer, they will remember having met them, having enjoyed the experience, and they will want to come back.

What next? Let’s “Enjoy an Independent Easter”!

So, in mid-November I was reflecting on the feedback from all those backing the “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” campaign. I was musing again, musing that when the Christmas campaign comes to an end it’s a LONG wait for Independent Retailer Month in July… musing that it might just be fun to do something for the independent retail sector a little earlier, perhaps around Easter…

Creating “Indie Easter Egg Hunts” in towns nationwide…

As a result the “Enjoy an Independent Easter” campaign was born! Website domain secured, branding currently being created. Our Easter activates will focus on engaging local families, getting them out and about during school holidays and exploring the independent shops in their area. Similar to the Christmas Shopping crawls, families will collect “virtual eggs” (cute egg shaped stickers) until their “Indie Easter egg hunt map” is complete. Upon completion the family will be awarded a real chocolate egg and a fun certificate to recognise their achievement.

Connecting the local community with local traders, rebuilding the shop-local habit

As with the Christmas activities it’s all about connecting the local community with the local traders, and this really is the first step to building the habit of shopping locally. However, I do believe that to really continue the process of re-engaging people with local retail centres, drawing them back from out of town and online options, bringing them back into the community, we really need to move away from viewing then as shoppers and think of them simply as people, citizens in the local community, where we all live, work, play… Our campaigns aren’t only about delivering incremental sales; we want to ensure local retailers are valued members of their local community and that they make their local customers feel valued too. We want local people to make a definite choice to shop indie and to shop local because they want to “give back” to their community, spending their cash with local people, people just like them.

Spend your £££s wisely – a little can go a long way

The CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies) did some research for FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) about the value of a £1 spent locally – the results were compelling, sufficient to convince most people that when they shop locally they are genuinely having a positive impact on their community! They discovered that for every £1 spent locally around 50p – 70p of that money recirculates back into the local economy. For the same £1 spent out of town or online only 5p trickles back to the local community. When people appreciate the impact that their choice of where to spend can have we believe that more people will make more effort to spend more with local independent businesses.

New Year Resolutions…

As its New Year I want to take a moment to talk about “resolutions”. I want you to ask you to make a pledge. We ALL need to set an example, to put our money where our mouths are as such. If we, as small business owners and independent retailers, don’t spend enough locally it is really rather hypocritical to expect other people in our communities to spend with us. We need to lead by example.

Pledge you support for independent retail in 2013

The pledge I want you to make is to divert 20% of what you currently spend with chain stores or big online brands and spend that with your local indies instead – retailers, cafes, bars, restaurants, salons etc. If you can pledge to divert more, fantastic, but 20% will make a huge impact in your area I am sure! Throughout 2013 I will be posting guest blogs from Independent Retailers about their own experiences of shopping indie, promoting their stores and the stores they’ve discovered on their travels. It will be great to hear from you too, to share your experiences.

Spread the word, each £1 spend locally is worth 10 times more to your community

As you begin to make more of an effort to shop indie, you can spread the word of your 2013 pledge to Support Independent Retail. You can explain what you are doing and why, to all the shop owners you encounter. You can tell your family and friends too. You may even be able to encourage them to pledge to do the same. Over time more and more people will get involved, you never know, we may even get it going viral! Before we know it that little bit of effort will soon add up and will make a big difference, particularly because your £1 spent locally is worth at least 10 times more to the local community that if you spent it elsewhere…

Let’s make 2013 the year of the Independent!

It’s obvious but has to be said – our communities are made up of people – people like you – people who work and live there. If we want to help make a difference, to turn around the fortunes of your local area, of your own business, then we all have to start by making changes to how we shop. I hope that 2013 will be a year of positive change for the independent retail sector and for the UK high streets overall. A thriving local community is a great place for us all to be, as citizens, whether we’re business owners or residents.

Happy New Year!

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About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
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2 Responses to Pledge your Support for Independent Retail in 2013 #indieretail

  1. Brilliant, congratulations on all the successes, I know that bringing retailers together will help each of their businesses, and creating a “shopping crawl” experience that brings new people into local shops will definitely have a positive impact.

    There’s so much packed into this blog post- wow! So much done, so much more to do!

    I would echo supporting local retailers, and with recent news about how big players are avoiding paying tax, it brings home just how little of your hard earned money will benefit your local community if it’s spent with the “big boys” in retail.

    Another key way to support local retailers is, as you say “engaging” with them, but what does this mean? It means visiting the shops, for sure, but it also means talking with the people there- give them feedback, tell them what you love about their shop, their products, tell them what you and your friends would love to see more of.

    Yes, it’s sad that local retailers are finding it tough, but often it’s due to the fact that they don’t really know what their customers want, and are willing to pay good money for! Quite often it’s that personal touch, being known in the shop, having recommendations made to them. “You loved that little thing you bought last month, I saw this new product and thought of you, do you like it?”
    Amazon is a good example of how making recommendations makes very good business sense!! You can look at what the big boys do, work out what it is that works, modify it to suit your business and your customers!!

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