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Retail Business, Store Fixtures & Display Tips

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Are Things Getting Worse for the UK Retail Sector?

· Retail Business

The freezing weather that swept across the UK from the Siberia – dubbed “the Beast from the East” – took quite a toll on the country’s retail sector. Sales declined 2.2 percent between February and March, affecting a range of sectors. Shoppers made 5 percent fewer trips to the grocery store, for example, costing supermarkets an estimated £22 million ($30 million) in lost sales. Department stores also suffered from lost sales. Debenhams reported that 2.2 percent decline in sales, half of which were blamed on the cold weather. Similarly, John Lewis reported sales that were 16 percent lower in mid-March 2018 than they were in 2017 because of frigid weather conditions.

Some argue that lackluster March sales are just another issue for a sector that faces mounting challenges. Drops in consumer confidence and macroeconomic factors, including inflation and stagnant wages, have meant consumers are being relatively cautious with their spending choices. This has put considerable downward pressure on sales in the first part of 2018.

However, some analysts are quick to point out that things aren’t quite as bad as they might seem. “What does today’s data tell us about the state of the industry and future prospects? Frankly, not a lot,” Ian Gilmartin, who is the head of retail and wholesale at Barclays corporate banking, told the Financial Times earlier this month, arguing that the statistics, while perhaps initially shocking, don’t actually indicate that catastrophe is on the horizon for the sector. “It’s simple — if people can’t get around, as shown by the drop in fuel sales, then they can’t go shopping, with lower footfall hitting the overall sales figures.”

Many are quick to point out that online shopping actually increased during the cold weather spurt, suggesting that just because consumers were unwilling to brave the freezing temperatures doesn’t necessarily mean that they were totally unwilling to spend. With the weather warming up and macroeconomic factors improving slightly, many contend that the British retail sector could actually see a renaissance this summer – though it is difficult to predict how things might play out.

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Tips and Tricks to Create Compelling Impulse Shopping Zones

· Displays, Retail Business

One of the keys to success for retailers is maximizing both the average dollar per transaction (ADT) and units per transaction (UPT). One of the best ways to do this? Capitalizing on human impulse behavior, of course.

Retailers can significantly drive up both ADT and UPT by encouraging consumers to make impulse purchases. The vast majority of American consumers – a full 84 percent – admit to making unplanned purchases while shopping. A full 33 percent of consumers actually admit to making impulse purchases at least once per week. Research consistently shows that consumers struggle to completely control their urges to buy something they see and want, especially when they feel that they are scoring a good deal.

Recognizing the economic power of the impulse purchase, retailers like Sephora, Target, and H&M all entice consumers to make impulse purchases, often relying on impulse shopping zones. Wonder where and how to create compelling impulse zones in your retail store? Be sure to keep the following tips in mind.

Set Up Tabletop Displays

Tabletop displays are an excellent way to drive up UPT. Scattering these throughout the store – ideally in high-traffic zones – are an excellent way to grab customers’ attention and get them to pick up something they might otherwise not. When populating impulse shopping zones, remember that the key is to choose items that consumers are likely to perceive as inexpensive and low risk and that are frequently consumed.

Use the Window

Window displays can actually make great impulse shopping zones, getting people in off the street to buy something impulsively. If people see other people shopping in your store windows, chances are higher that they will step off the street and into your store on a whim and perhaps even make a purchase.

Take Advantage of Popular Items

If you want customers to make an unplanned purchase, make sure you are looking for opportunities to provide value. You can do this by placing impulse items next to products that are very popular to maximize the attention they get from consumers. Ideally, these impulse items should complement the popular item in some way. For example, if there is a particularly popular brand of men’s shirts in your store, it would be a good idea to place accessories like ties and cufflinks in the vicinity of the shirts.

The bottom line is that it worth putting some time and effort into creating compelling impulse zones in your store. The more you can capitalize on your consumers’ impulses, the better your store will do.

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How Instagram Is Changing the World of Retail

· Retail, Retail Business

It turns out that these days, it isn’t enough for retailers to sell products. They also need to be able to sell moments – specifically, moments that can be photographed and shared on social media. With the rise of smartphones and their high-quality cameras, it is increasingly important what a product and a retail space look like from behind the lens of consumers’ smartphones.

“This new movement is more than visual merchandising – it is ‘visual moment-izing,’ creating perfect visual moments that really come to life in a photo. Increasingly, retail is being designed to be viewed through a smartphone camera lens,” Retail expert John Bird pointed out in Forbes. “A few years ago, the Converse store on Broadway in New York had a wall display of shoes at the entry. When you trained your iPhone on the image, it morphed into a skull – perfect for Instagram.”

Beyond the example of the Converse store, there are dozens of other examples of retailers perfectly tailoring retail spaces for Instagram content. From Candlepower, Yankee Candle’s New York City pop-up store, to Prive Revaux, a designer eyeglasses and sunglasses pop-up also in New York City, retailers are increasingly designing stores with Instagram content in mind. Zach Overton, the Vice President of consumer experience at Samsung and the General Manager of two of Samsung’s high-tech stores, Samsung 837 and Galaxy Studio, says that he is always thinking about whether the experience crafted in the store for customers can easily be turned into appealing visual content and for Instagram.

The bottom line? Visually driven social media sites like Instagram are having a significant effect on the world of retail. In order to win over consumers and maintain business, retailers need to ensure that both their products and their stores are visually appealing to customers.

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Trump Lashes Out at Amazon Over Retail Disruption

· Retail Business

President Trump has lashed out at Amazon again on social media, accusing the firm of tax evasion and arguing that its business practices have forced many of America’s retailers to close their doors. “I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the election,” President Trump wrote on Twitter on March 29th. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our postal system as their delivery boy (causing tremendous loss to the US), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!”

This isn’t the first time that President Trump has gone after Amazon. In December, he urged the US Postal Service to charge the company more to deliver its packages. “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” he asked on Twitter, insisting that the US Postal Service “should be charging MUCH MORE!”

The President’s continuous attacks on the online retail giant have raised questions as to whether the administration may go after it with antitrust or competition law. Amazon’s share price subsequently dropped following the tweet, dipping around 4.4 percent. In response to questions about President Trump’s remarks and his intentions, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the President remains committed to ensuring a fair and even playing field for all businesses but that he doesn’t have any specific policies or reforms in mind.

Many have speculated that there is unlikely to be any major action coming out of President Trump’s rhetoric. “We see some small risk that the President could use the bully pulpit to criticize Amazon, and potentially put up some roadblocks for the company,” Lloyd Walmsley, a Deutsche Bank analyst, told the Guardian earlier this month. “If it were such a slam dunk case, we think it is quite likely that we would have seen a tweet from @RealDonaldTrump about an impending regulatory action.”

 

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United Colors of Benetton Opens Impressive New London Flagship Store

· Displays

The popular Italian clothing brand United Colors of Benetton celebrated its 25th anniversary this year by inaugurating a brand new flagship store in London. Located on London’s Oxford Street, the British capital’s famous shopping high street, the 1,500-square-meter store boasts a sleek aesthetic and a number of impressive design features. The new flagship replaces the brand’s former flagship location on Regent’s Street, which has now closed.

The look of the store is sophisticated and modern, boasting a clean look with materials such as wood, stone, and iron. A unique loop shape staircase functions as an architectural focal piece, leading up from the first floor to two additional levels. Instead of one traditional checkout area with tills, the retailer has opted to scatter checkout points across the three floors in an attempt to improve customer experience. The store also boasts a dedicated knitwear lounge, which showcases the brand’s impressive collection of knitwear.

The new flagship store, which was designed by the retailer’s in-house design team, offers customers a high-tech shopping experience. The store features touch tables, interactive screens, and a large LED screen in its entrance, which was specifically designed to display content produced by United Colors of Benetton’s in-house research center, known as Fabrica. Notably, a lounge area boasts large touch tables, which allow customers to browse the store’s entire collection.

The flagship store is indicative of a new generation of retail stores, as brands increasingly look to cater to customers with a high-tech, modern shopping experience to rival online shopping.

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Major US Retailers Ask Trump to Reconsider China Tariffs

· Retail Business

President Trump reportedly plans to enact unilateral tariffs on China because of its alleged violation of rules for intellectual property. The president does not need the approval of Congress to institute the tariffs, and some sources report that the tariffs could be implemented as early as this week. In total, the tariffs are expected to affect an estimated $30 billion worth of imports from China.

However, while most agree that China isn’t playing fairly on trade, many disagree on whether hefty tariffs are the best way to approach the problem. Many have pointed out that tariffs are most likely to harm American consumers. Firstly, retailers are inevitably going to need to raise product prices in response to the tariffs, and secondly, China is likely to hit back at the US by imposing tariffs of its own, targeting goods and jobs in the US. Specifically, China is likely to target agricultural products such as soybeans and grains, the second largest US export to China, which could create significant economic difficulties, particularly in the US.

Major retailers are among the most concerned about the potentially deleterious economic impacts of the president’s proposed sanctions. Amid mounting anxiety around the president’s plans to impose additional tariffs on China, a number of large retailers are speaking out. Major US retail companies, including Best Buy, Target, Macy’s, Gap, Sears, and Wal-Mart, sent President Trump a letter early last week urging him to reconsider plans to impose significant tariffs on goods imported from China.

“We are concerned about the negative impact as you consider remedial actions under Section 301 of the Trade Act could have on America’s working families,” the coalition of companies wrote in an open letter to President Trump. “Investigating technology and intellectual property policies and practices is critically important to our innovative economy. Yet were this investigation to result in a broadly applied tariff remedy on imports from China, it would hurt American households with higher prices and exacerbate a U.S. tariff system that is already stacked against working families.”

Many commentators have pointed out that the letter is indicative of the growing rift between the president and the business community. In addition to major retailers, numerous US trade associations – including U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, and the Information Technology Industry Council – have also expressed concern over the president’s plan to implement tariffs on the grounds that it would be harmful to both consumers and the US economy. Representatives of trade associations and prominent retailers have also urged the president to accept expert comments from industry figures before taking action to impose the tariffs.

“This is not American industries crying wolf,” said Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), which organized the open letter. “Higher tariffs will mean higher costs to businesses and in turn higher prices for American families. We must do right by American families and make sure they are not the ones who will pay for China’s harmful technology practices.”

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How Millennials Are Shifting Retail Trends

· Retail, Retail Business, Retail Store Marketing

You’ve probably heard it before: millennials are a unique generation with unique tastes and preferences that differentiate them from Baby Boomers and Generation X. But did you know that these unique tastes and preferences are having a major impact on the retail industry?

“The millennial generation is the largest in U.S. history and as they reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy will be significant,” Tom McGee explained in Forbes. “Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization, and economic disruption. These factors have given them a distinctly different set of behaviors and experiences.”

So, how exactly are millennials driving shifts in retail trends? Let’s take a look.

They Want Convenience

Given that they have grown up with mobile devices and cell phones, millennials have an expectation for convenience that other generations don’t. They want things quickly and when it is convenient for them. Retailers are increasingly looking to accommodate different kinds of payment to keep this group happy, ensuring they are able to purchase products in the way that is most convenient to them. From mobile wallets to self-checkout kiosks, retailers are rolling out all sorts of new payment means to accommodate millennials.

They Expect Personalization

Millennials have grown up in the digital era of personalized advertisements and recommendations. As a result, they want to interact with brands that understand their individual wants and needs. Increasingly, retailers are catering to this desire for personalization by leveraging customer data to deliver more personalized recommendations and experiences.

They Prefer Experiences – Not Products

Research consistently shows that millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences – like dinner, traveling, and shows – over tangible products. As a result, the way that brands interact socially with millennials is increasingly important. Brands are increasingly looking to offer millennials memorable in-store experiences by turning shopping into an enjoyable experience as opposed to just a means to an end.

So, what does this all mean? Millennials are a powerful force in today’s market, shifting retail trends in new and important ways.

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Which Retailers Are Planning Expansions in 2018?

· Retail Business

As the retail sector’s struggle continues, store closures continue to make headlines. From Toys R Us to New Look, many retailers are struggling with lower consumer demand, decreased foot traffic in major malls, and the rise of online shopping, forcing them to cut back on their brick-and-mortar stores. All in all, a total of 3,000 stores are forecasted to be closed in 2018.

But believe it or not, not all retailers out there are shutting stores’ doors. In fact, a number of retailers have ambitious expansion plans in the works. In total, it is estimated that some 1,700 new stores will open this year. So, which retailers are planning expansions in 2018? Let’s take a look.

Ulta Beauty

This beauty chain plans to open just over 100 new stores in 2018 in a bid to gain even more market shares in the beauty market. In addition to expanding into new markets, the retailer is also working to boost its visibility in markets where it already has a presence by opening more stores.

Warby Parker

Eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker is at the forefront of the trend of online retailers working to establish a brick-and-mortar presence. Originally a primarily online retailer, the brand is looking to solidify its physical presence, particularly in major cities. It plans to double the number of retail stores it has open, increasing from around 60 to 100.

Dollar General

This discount chain plans to open an ambitious 900 new stores in 2018. The chain is specifically focused on expanding its presence in more rural communities in order to tap into markets of low-income shoppers. In addition to the expansion, Dollar General also plans to remodel around 1,000 of its existing stores this year.

Target

Target is continuing to grow its presence in the market via small-format stores. These smaller, more compact Target retail stores are proving quite popular with customers. The retailer opened 32 such stores in 2017 and has plans to open an additional 35 of them this year, specifically focusing on opening stores in dense urban areas near markets or college campuses. Target management reports that these small-format stores are at the forefront of the retailer’s expansion plans because they are actually more profitable per square foot than traditional Target stores, driving more frequent purchases from consumers.

Aldi

This discount grocer wants to open about 180 new stores in 2018, with the goal of growing its total fleet of stores to an impressive 2,500 over the course of the next four years.

The bottom line? The retail market might be tough, but not all retailers are in dire straits. A number of them are actually thriving, with ambitious plans to expand their market share, presence, and visibility by opening new stores.

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Arranging Merchandise on Shelves: What You Should Know

· Displays

Whatever you do, when arranging merchandise on shelves in your retail store, don’t place things in a casual or haphazard way. If you want to drive sales in your store, the merchandise needs to be placed strategically, with the products most likely to sell placed in the areas that are most likely to attract customer attention. Wondering how you can most effectively arrange merchandise on your store’s shelves? Here what you should know about what to put where.

The Top Shelf: Gourmet or Luxury Brands; Smaller Brands; Regional Brands

The top half of shelves tends to be more visible to customers than the bottom half. With this in mind, stores often place unique specialty items or high-end luxury items on the highest shelves. These items don’t warrant prime real-estate space (the mid-top shelves), but they should be visible enough for customers to take notice. Putting the right goods here can help a retail store stand out, particularly if it has unique offerings.

Mid-Top Shelves: Bestsellers and Leading Brands

Bestselling products typically are placed on the second and third shelves from the top. This zone often is known as “the bull’s-eye zone,” as it tends to be the most visible to adult customers, as products placed here are often situated at eye level. The items placed here should be those that the drive the most revenue for your store.

Mid-Bottom Shelves: Any Items with Appeal to Children

A child’s eye level is naturally lower than that of an adult’s. Therefore, it is best to place any kind of product that would appeal to children on the mid-bottom shelves. For example, this is why children’s cereals in grocery stores tend to be situated closer to the bottom of the shelves than the top.

The Bottom Shelf: Store and Private Label Brands; Oversize and Bulk Items

If customers are looking for a bargain, they’ll go looking for the cheapest product, even if it isn’t the most visible. That’s why it is always a safe bet to place the cheapest brands – such as store and private label brands – on the bottom shelves. Bulk items, which can be quite awkward to stock, can also be good to put here.

In conclusion, it is well worth the time and effort to pay attention to product placement when stocking your store’s shelves. Placing products in the right place can translate into a significant boost in revenue.

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Leveraging the Power of Interaction for More Engaging Customer Displays

· Display Tips, Retail Business, Visual Merchandising

Interactive retail displays are increasingly gaining traction among retailers, who recognize them as a powerful way to create more engaging in-store displays and grab and hold customer attention. Luxury retailers like Burberry, Alexander McQueen, and Audi have increasingly begun to leverage the power of in-store interactive displays, as have more mainstream retailers like Primark, Nordstrom, and New Balance. So, what exactly are the benefits of utilizing in-store interactive displays? And how can they be used to maximize customer engagement? Let’s take a look.

Grab Your Customers’ Attention

Static retail displays rely on design and color to grab the attention of customers, and it can be a challenge for individual displays to truly stand out from the crowd. Interactive displays, however, naturally have an attention-grabbing quality to them that can convince customers to stop, take a look, and, ideally, even wander into a store.

Entertain and Educate

Interactive displays are an excellent way for retailers to educate customers about a product, ensuring they are easily able to convey key information without being seen to be annoying or invasive. This can be achieved through clever integration of videos and touchscreens into interactive displays, enabling retails to more easily highlight the features and benefits of products.

But beyond just educating customers, interactive retail displays are perceived by customers to be more fun than traditional static displays, and that’s a huge advantage for retailers. Research shows that a full 50 percent of men and 70 percent of women actually treat shopping as a form of entertainment. That means customers who are entertained with your store will stay longer and likely end up purchasing more.

Maximize Flexibility

Last but not least, interactive displays are inherently flexible. These kinds of displays can typically be easily reconfigured as the seasons change and new merchandise comes in, and content can be tweaked whenever necessary.

The bottom line is that interactive retail displays are an incredibly powerful way to drive engagement with customers, helping retailers to both build relationships with customers and drive sales.

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