The ‘Digital Retail Innovations Report 2016’ has launched with Amazon commandeering the top end of the table with three innovations listed in the top 10 places. To access the report please click on the link below: Digital-Innovations-Report-2016 This year’s report, sponsored by Webloyalty, includes the Top 50 innovations in the UK and Ireland so it…

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The Name: Kochhaus The Place: Various affluent and cosmopolitan cities in Germany, but it all started in Berlin which now has three branches The Story: Have you ever come across a concept so simple that you thought ‘That’s not an innovation, there must be loads of people doing that already’? I certainly have: Well, you…

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Ahead of the launch of the ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations Top 50’ report 2016 (sponsored by Webloyalty) on July 6 here is one of a series of Q&A’s with the leading figures behind some of the key digitally-driven innovations in the retail industry. (Click here to view 2015 report) Q&A with Gil Hazan, MD…

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Almost three-quarters (73%) of shoppers would switch to another retailer if they suffered a poor experience when buying goods online, according to findings from JDA/Centiro in the Customer Pulse 2016 report. What makes this worse is the fact that over half (53%) of consumers had actually experienced a disappointing experience when buying goods over the…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event with Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis, the man behind the company’s phenomenally successful Christmas advertising campaigns. He recalled joining John Lewis in 2008 and focusing on developing the emotional connection between the company and its customers. After a couple of forays he found his stride with…

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Since technology has traditionally been used to drive efficiency gains in businesses it is not surprising that it has been given the task of personalising the online experience customers receive – whether that is through tailored landing pages or the delivery of more bespoke search results. But great care has to be taken because relying…

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Neil Sansom, chief executive of Woolovers 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Increasing the brands awareness as we are very much an unknown but have very loyal customers once they experience our product and service. 2. What is the biggest challenge to your business? We’re changing our IT infrastructure over the next…

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  Neil Sansom, chief executive of Woolovers 1.What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Increasing the brands awareness as we are very much an unknown but have very loyal customers once they experience our product and service. 2.What is the biggest challenge to your business? We’re changing our IT infrastructure over the next 12…

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There’s a great yarn to be told about a woollen sweater retailer that’s set to jumper ahead of the competition. Okay, that’s enough, you’ve no doubt heard far too much pun-laden writing and the fact is it is not exactly clever so there will be no more of it in this piece. Woollen uppers specialist…

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Inditex has long led the race for efficiency in the supply chain, with its Zara fashion chain the global exemplar in managing stock, and one of the key tools in its armoury is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Whereas most other retailers have not bothered utilising the technology there is a growing acknowledgment that as the…

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  The Name: Unmade The Place: Although the lovely Somerset House in London WC2 is where the office is based this is mainly an online retailer at present. And it has had a pop-up store in Selfridges for a brief stint. The fact is to be honest they’d rather not be a retailer at all,…

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Ahead of the launch of the ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations Top 50’ report 2016 (sponsored by Webloyalty) on July 6 here is one of a series of Q&A’s with the leading figures behind some of the key digitally-driven innovations in the retail industry. (Click here to view 2015 report Q&A with Alexander Kayser, co-founder…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event with David Buttress, CEO of digital marketplace for take-away food Just Eat, who told the story of how the first month the UK business accrued only £34 of revenue while today it brings in £350 million across its various markets. It is also a tale of how the…

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Amazon is undoubtedly a threat to all parts of the retail industry. Whichever part of the sector it turns its gaze on will inevitably come under pressure and right now it has fashion firmly in its sights. To this end it has invested in an extensive photo studio and appointed fashion writing specialists that have…

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The Name: Zara The Place: All over the world pretty much, with more than 2,000 shops in just about any place where young women own bank cards. Actually there is a menswear line too so the other half of the population is also catered for. The Story:  Founded in 1975 by one fashion-loving Spaniard Amancio…

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The table of the top online drinks retailers published each month by Retail Insider is to be re-launched in September as a ranking of the results from an ‘Online Mystery Shopper’ service provided by Sitemorse that will accurately reflect the experiences faced by customers online. It will be the ultimate authoritative measure of real customer…

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99p stores never had quite the same pedigree as Poundland so when the latter bought its cheaper-priced rival it was always going to be a tough task to bring things up to the required retailing standards. One of the achievements of the present management – led by the outgoing CEO Jim McCarthy – has been…

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Through the evolution of payment options from paper and coins to electronic methods, many have been quick to speculate the rise of a cashless society. The Cooperative supermarket’s recent report on consumer behaviour and spending predicted that by 2025 mobile payments will take over cash and card payments. Stalwart, the Royal Mint responded, defending cash…

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Retail Insider has held its latest event – combining a tutored Beer Tasting with Duncan Sambrook of Sambrook’s Brewery and a talk by Michael Durbridge, director of omni-channel at B&Q – that highlighted both the vibrancy of the UK beer scene and the opportunities for retailers from developing multi-channel propositions. Senior executives from John Lewis,…

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Ahead of the launch of the ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations Top 50’ report 2016 (sponsored by Webloyalty) on July 6 here is the first in a series of Q&A’s with the leading figures behind some of the key digitally-driven innovations in the retail industry. (Click here to view 2015 report) Q&A with Tim Robinson,…

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The Name: Tossed The Place: Around 26 units currently, including several in Dubai, and more than a handful located in Welcome Break stations around the UK.   The Story: So, shall we begin our tour of a very successful salad provider with more than a decade’s experience in the very competitive business of healthy eating.…

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All the talk is of the Millennials and how they are the group that every company has to attract. Yes, it is fair to say, they are the future and that retailers’ longevity will be inextricably linked to doing business with them – now, or in the future at some point when they mature. But…

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Employment in the retail sector has been in the news over the past few weeks with the headlines highlighting the dramatic forecast that one million jobs will be lost from the industry by 2025. Whatever the ultimate figure, there is clearly going to be some big changes taking place – with the big driver digital.…

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Upmarket US-based department store Nordstrom was founded in 1901 but it hasn’t lost its mojo and become the equivalent of UK TV’s sitcom store Grace Brothers from Are You Being Served?  Rather the opposite in fact as it has become the go-to store for cutting edge pure-play retailers looking to gain exposure to bricks and…

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Recent figures from the BRC predicting that the number of people employed in the retail sector will reduce from a present three million to nearer two million by 2025 paints a very worrying picture. In the same way that retailers are having to completely overhaul their IT infrastructures, they are also embarking on serious reinventions…

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Retailers continue to grapple with social media. For every organisation that regards it as a distraction, there is one that fully embraces it and uses it as a key tool for engaging with customers. The former camp will argue that it is it is difficult to put forward a business case for committing serious resources…

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Online sales continue to grow at a fair clip – from a present base of 10-15% of total sales across the whole retail industry – and with this, the landscape for employment in the sector is at the early stages of a revolution. Until this point retailers have used rubber bands and sticky tape to…

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Retail Insider held its first Breakfast Event of 2016 with Anthony Fletcher, CEO of healthy snacks company Graze, who highlighted how data has been fundamental to the success of the business. Senior executives from Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Monsoon Acessorize and Amazon were among those who heard how the company was good at logistics…

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Watching Powa Technologies call in the administrators Deloitte last week was very sad but not necessarily that surprising to the market. In my opinion, even though its founder Dan Wagner had been claiming it was worth almost £2 billion a few months ago, his businesses suggest this was more about over-hyping than actual reality. The…

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) publicly shamed five brands in February for suppressing negative reviews and not providing a ‘complete picture (for consumers) when making buying decisions’. The CMA renewed its commitment to ensure transparency in user generated content (UGC) in January, and is on the prowl for firms misrepresenting themselves on third-party sites…

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The Name: Bloom & Wild The Place: In your letterbox right now! Actually it’s an online business started in the Autumn of 2013 but letterboxes are going to figure highly, trust me. The Story: We’ve just had Valentine’s Day when Bloom & Wild were probably dealing with a lot of stressed and difficult people with…

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Everybody likes Independent shops. Even those people who never cross the threshold of such businesses would undoubtedly say they are great fans of them if ever questioned in a survey about their shopping habits. What this says about surveys is that they have to be treated with a little dose of scepticism – some more…

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Retail’s Big Show (organised by the National Retail Federation), aka NRF, in New York City each January is the big opportunity for IT suppliers from around the world to showcase their latest retail technologies. Most are simply the latest iterations of existing solutions and as such there are never many genuinely radical things on show…

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Independent drinks retailer The Drink Main information about tadalafil Shop delivered the most improved online performance among the Top UK drinks websites in January, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse. Its strong performance took it into the top 10 as it moved up eight places with a score of…

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The Name: Eataly The Place: Well if you live in Italy or Japan you virtually can’t move for Eataly stores and there are around 30 globally – dotted about, one in Sao Paolo, one in Munich, one in Moscow. But none in the UK until a joint partnership opens in Selfridges later this year. Oh,…

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Stan Laurent, group CEO, PhotoBox 1.What is the greatest opportunity for your business? The personalisation market is massive and is continuing to grow, with Europe alone believed to be worth £6-7 billion. We are only a £275 million business today, meaning that there is a huge amount to play for. As well as working hard…

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Reducing returns is an objective of every online fashion retailer and as the level of returned items is expected to outpace the growth in online sales the problem looks set to grow. But it would be a mistake to reduce returns at all costs as this would undoubtedly lose a retailer sales volumes. The fact…

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Millennials are certainly a demographic grouping that secures its fair share of discussion in the retail industry as this 18 to 34-year-old age group has long been seen as attractive – based on their disposable income levels and the potential for merchants to grab them as future long-term loyal customers. Despite recognising their value, it…

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Not that long ago retail technology was predominantly about Point-of-Sale (PoS) but things changed dramatically following the earthquake known as the internet, which disrupted things dramatically and in its wake myriad new IT solutions hit the industry. But PoS solutions still remain at the heart of in-store activities. They just happen to have developed into…

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There’s a bloodthirsty battle going on for shoppers online and making the situation even more cut-throat is the fact that 77% of shoppers would be likely to switch to shopping with an alternative retailer next Christmas as a result of a poor online festive shopping experience. These are the findings from the second annual JDA/Centiro…

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The Name: Great British Exchange The Place: Mainly online but also one showroom in Harrogate. The Story: Patriots arise! Your country needs you. I’m ready: I have a stuffed bulldog. Mmmm, not really the style I wanted. I’ve got Union Jack underwear. Too much information. I’m singing Rule Britannia. Again, it’s one way to show…

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It’s that time of year again and with 45% of people stating they will do most of their Christmas shopping online, postal and carrier companies are going to have a bigger job than ever keeping up the pace to deliver gifts on time. But, across Europe, gift giving is far from identical and not just…

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Daily Deals websites have been a feature of online retail for some years. Pioneered by Groupon in the US this area quickly grew into a red hot part of the market as a host of me-too propositions appeared and wooed shoppers with this new way of buying. But it has gradually died a slow death.…

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The popularity of mobile phones and apps for shopping will determine the small number of winners from the vast majority of also-rans in the world of online retail. While people are spending increasing amounts of time on smartphone apps – up 24% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2014 to 37.3 hours, according to Neilsen…

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John Lewis, Apple and Amazon are regarded as the most customer-centric brands in the UK, according to research undertaken by Oresa Executive Search, but questions about this result were raised at a recent event held by the company. Attending the event at the St Pancras Renaissance hotel in London Tim Mason, former marketing director at…

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Anthony Fletcher, CEO of graze.com 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? The food industry is relatively underpenetrated by technology compared to most other major industries. By placing technology at the core of what we do, graze continues to disrupt the food industry and revolutionise snacking. Our intelligent use of data has facilitated…

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Sainsbury’s stormed up the table of the Top UK drinks websites in November, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse, taking it to eighth spot. The supermarket climbed 11 places with a score of 4.23 out of 10, compared with 2.95 last month. This strong performance contrasts with that of…

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Amazon recently opened a small book store in Seattle that taken at face value provides further evidence that the good old physical book store has plenty of life left in it yet, despite the havoc the behemoth itself has wreaked on the category over the last decade-and-a-half. Or does it? The likelihood of Amazon going…

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The Name: Graze The Place: Through your letterbox – so anywhere in the UK and now launched in the US too. The Story: Snacks are very big business, agreed? I should coco. You can’t move for family bags of salted nuts in my house: OK, what about super kale and edamame bean snacks? Well, slightly…

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Setting up and running a start-up is becoming increasingly popular. Talented individuals are eschewing working for someone else, and instead looking to make their fortune by working for themselves. According to Startup Britain there were 581,000 new companies created in 2014, the most on record. And 2015 is expected to be another record-breaking year, with…

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Asda recently announced it was to slow the pace of its openings in London and Sainsbury’s meanwhile stated that it was, in sharp contrast, to continue to open new units at a cracking rate. We’re talking about convenience stores, which have certainly been in the news of late and the coverage has highlighted how the…

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Let’s face it technology can be a real pain. It costs a fortune to implement and then it never really does what you want it to do. Retailers have had their fair share of pain over the years from being over-sold the next big thing that’s been hyped to the hilt – only for it…

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Steve Rothwell, CTO and founder, Eagle Eye 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? As a software service business you’d expect me to say digital or wearable technology wouldn’t you. Actually I think the greatest opportunity is the high street. There was some Kantar research released recently showing that over a three month…

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Loyalty schemes were supposedly dead. The consensus was that they served little purpose when all the focus of shoppers and retailers was firmly on delivering the cheapest possible prices. Nothing was deemed worthy of distracting them from this mission. Such was the downbeat mood music around loyalty programmes that Tesco had its insight division Dunnhumby…

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The ‘Retail Insider Top 100 Movers & Shakers in Multi-channel’ report for 2015 has been launched to celebrate the stars of the sector that are making a difference in pushing their businesses to become more digitally focused. At the head of the report, which is sponsored by K3 Retail, sits Angela Ahrendts of Apple closely…

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Retail Insider held its latest breakfast event with Andy Harding, chief customer officer at House of Fraser, who helped launch the Multi-channel Movers & Shakers 2015 report. Senior executives from John Lewis, B&Q, New Look, White Company and T2 were among those who not only heard how House of Fraser is tackling the move to…

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The Name: Startisans The Place: London only, in fact only one site to date – Shelton Street in Covent Garden although goodness knows they are searching hard for sites. Oh and there was a pop-up too for a bit. But as you will see there is a network through which successful startisans can progress. The…

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Rather like a listing supertanker Tesco continues to battle rough seas to right itself as it struggles with the after-effects of a space race that has left it drained of financial resources and lacking in differentiation in the marketplace.   Speaking at the recent IGD Big Debate 2015 conference Dr Clive Black, head of research at…

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When pet shop chain Pet Pavilion announced it would be selling a non-alcoholic beer for dogs to enjoy when they accompany their owners down the pub then you know there is something happening (however odd) in the pet sector. The brew called Snuffle joined an array of upmarket products the business sells – across its…

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The mobile payments landscape has been a confusing one for retailers and leisure companies alike. Myriad start-ups and global giants have asked business leaders to put their faith in these newcomers’ hands before embarking on the mobile payments journey. These mobile payment companies have also dished out over-zealous press releases making extravagant claims that have…

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We all know the store is changing in terms of how the physical space is being used but this is not the only thing that we shall see adapt because the way store employees are used in-store is set for an upheaval too as a result of the impact of digital. This is a key…

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Both Poundland and Aldi have recently announced plans for launches of online stores after much deliberation and questions over whether the channel stacks up financially for value retailers. And Lidl has also been talking of making the plunge. The argument for going online continues to ratchet-up because every bit of research you care to read…

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Tim Robinson, CEO, Doddle 1.What is the greatest opportunity for your business? For us it’s about being the company that revolutionises the way people deal with parcels, becoming the parcel service you can’t believe you lived without. The quest to eradicate the ‘sorry you were out’ card is also a driving force for Doddle. We…

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The Name: Spar The Place: 2.4k stores around the UK, so very prevalent basically. And if you are talking global reach then 12k shops around the world. The Story: Spar, I hear you cry. What, that corner shop mainstay with its Kingsmill bread rolls and Heinz baked beans. What on earth is innovative about that?…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event with Mark Lewis, online director of John Lewis, who highlighted how his present role will soon become extinct as the channels all converge and e-commerce directors become a “dying breed”. Senior executives from Marks & Spencer, Boohoo.com, Dobbies Garden Centres, and Farfetch were among those who heard how…

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Hardly a week goes by without some news of a pure-play about to open a physical store or rumours circlulating that a big-gun of the online world is investigating joining the multi-channel fraternity through adding bricks and mortar. This has been particularly prevalent in fashion and the reason is because the online-only guys have significantly…

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When senior executives from established retailers convene around a table or share a conference platform it can often feel like a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous where the group gain some comfort and solace from sharing their experiences and problems. But it is not alcohol that is the problem for these business leaders at the moment…

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Time flies when you’re having fun. Can it really be 20 years since Pierre Omidyar created eBay and sold the very first item on what was then a rather unusual beast – an online marketplace. Since then there have been marketplaces opened up by all and sundry but none have gained the presence that eBay…

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  The Name: T2. The Place: It’s Australia-based (with 60 stores in the country) but well and truly over here now. Six outlets in the capital from old money Chelsea to new money Shoreditch and opening fresh outlets like topsy. It’s all so exhausting I need to put the kettle on for a nice cup…

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Simon Harrow, CEO, Elevaate. 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Elevaate has an exciting year ahead. Our core platform is delivering for our customers but there are so many legacy tools holding retailers back. The prospect of building an increasingly innovative and intelligent SaaS platform for retailers and suppliers to grow their…

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When pop-ups first appeared on the retail landscape they seemed to have more than a whiff of short-term fad about them. They looked to be a very temporary solution to fill the numerous empty shop spaces that had become features across the UK’s high streets in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. Brands…

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Making a return visit to the young meat retailer Muddy Boots as it begins to grow-up has thrown some interesting light on the challenges faced by a typical start-up and how important it is to constantly flex the model. Having initially been a branded supplier to Ocado and Waitrose of meat products the company 15…

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It is not exactly a small time aspiration to become a pan-European rival to global behemoth IKEA but this is the aim of Made.com as it says it is targeting former customers of the flat-pack and meatball specialist. The raising of £38 million last week will have done its cause no harm at all as…

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Retailers have made great strides in improving disabled access over the past few years but there is still much more that can be done. Thousands of businesses are losing out on revenue by not offering adequate disabled access. The former Minister for Disabled People claimed last year that UK high streets could be overlooking £212…

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Selfridges climbs into the top 10 of the table of the Top UK drinks websites in July, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse, which marks a remarkable improvement. It moves up nine places to seventh spot with a score of 4.02 out of 10 compared with 3.20 in June.…

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Avoiding cliches is a major rule in journalism but I’m forgetting that now because the recent decision by John Lewis to impose a £2 charge on click & collect orders just has to be described as throwing the cat among the pigeons. The reality is that for most retailers fulfilling online orders – in a…

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The Name: Pirch The Place: It’s an American concern with eight showrooms dotted around the big cities. The Story: Who hasn’t seen that really funny joke on social media which goes along the lines of: “Just been to the toilet in B&Q…Mind you not sure the staff liked it – seems they’re not plumbed in.”…

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Michael Durbridge, director of omni-channel, B&Q 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? We’ve the right mix of a large number of stores and ambitions for digital growth. We kicked off our five-year digital plan two years ago and believe the home improvement market is big and made for digital. People research, they…

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Retail Insider held its latest Event this week – a combined talk by Jon Rudoe, digital & technology director at Sainsbury’s, discussing the challenges and opportunities of multi-channel, and an English Wine Tasting with Julia Stafford, founder of Wine Pantry. Senior executives from John Lewis, Moss Bros, Made.com, and Snow + Rock were among those…

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We’ve all heard of fast fashion but what about slow fashion? It’s an emerging trend that looks to reduce waste through encouraging fewer purchases of clothing, drive greater use of environment-friendly materials, and promote an embracing of ethical sourcing practices. Slow fashion involves a more pedestrian supply chain hence the name. This ultimately means it…

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Oddbins was the most improved drinks retail website in the table of the Top UK drinks websites in June, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse. It moved up 10 places to 11th spot with a score of 3.58 out of 10 compared with 2.32 in May that prompted a…

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In only the past couple of months there has been a stream of announcements from IKEA that all contribute to what it has been describing as its ‘transformational agenda’. It announced the opening of its smallest retail location so far – in Canada, it opened a pop-up breakfast-in-bed cafe in East London where beds could…

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Over the years the extent of the digital landscape of retailers has grown like ‘digital wildfire’ and can to some extent be viewed as a real threat to their future capabilities. For retail this presents an emerging and what is becoming a significant problem Retailers must have an understanding of what exactly constitutes their entire…

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The Name: Argos The Place: Oh everywhere. Almost everyone lives within ten miles of an Argos store apparently. The Story: Innovation, you say. Argos, you say. It can’t be done, you say. Actually I haven’t… Well, this column is about to prove to you once and for all that a big company with a catalogue…

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Doddle has been ranked the leading innovation in the second annual ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations’ report 2015 ahead of Starbucks pay ahead app and Waitrose Hiku home scanning solution. The high placing of Doddle reflects the prominence of logistics solutions in this year’s report and highlights how retailers are still grappling with fulfilment and…

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Steve Robinson, CEO, Achica 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Younger business are fortunate not to have the same constraints as older ones; difficult to exit leases, hard to change cultures, historical pension commitments, expensive to change legacy systems etc. Starting with a clean sheet of paper allows you to be agile,…

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Far too many retailers are unskilled in the area of digital and this puts them in a sufficiently precarious position as to threaten their very existences. The mindsets of executives at the top of a whole raft of retailers must be changed if their companies are to fully grasp the challenges and opportunities of digital…

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Even very recently catalogues were seen as integral to the likes of Shop Direct, N. Brown and Argos – with millions of them distributed each year. But the acceleration of online sales has dramatically reduced these retailers’ reliance on paper-based catalogues over the past few years. Such has been the extent of the internet’s impact…

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  Retail Insider has held its latest event – combining a tutored Beer Tasting with Paddy Johnson of Windsor & Eton Brewery and a talk by Robin Phillips, omni-channel and development director at Boots UK – that highlighted both the vibrancy of the UK beer scene and the opportunities for retailers from developing multi-channel propositions. Senior…

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There are few certainties in business and the retail sector specifically operates in an environment where there are now ever fewer guarantees. Where once growth was driven by simply adding physical stores, today’s digital world means things are a lot more complicated. What might have been regarded as a rare certainty was a green light…

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As Naked Wines is acquired by Majestic Wines its website endures a disastrous month with its performance deteriorating dramatically to push it way down the table of the Top UK drinks websites in May, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse. It slipped 19 places to the bottom of the…

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The Name: Mast Brothers The Place: New York City, London and soon to be Los Angeles. And expanding. The Story: Let me ask you a question. What’s the definition of a difficult sell? Well, let’s see, there’s snow and Eskimos: Harder. Coals and Newcastle. Harder. Give up: Trying to get people to part with £8…

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Arguably the most important customers to retailers are those whose spending power will increase over time and who therefore represent the future revenue streams of merchants.   These are the younger generation and it is they who are, not surprisingly most courted by retailers, advertisers, and brand owners. Everybody wants their custom. What connects these…

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For years shoppers have been told that they really do like to use self-service checkouts. But do they? Well, judging by the findings of a recent bit of research by Morrisons, consumers don’t actually like self-service checkouts. In fact, it found a whopping 96% of its customers prefer to use a staffed checkout. Not surprisingly…

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As many friends and readers of Retail Insider will know the editor Glynn Davis also writes about beer and pubs for a number of publications and has on occasion slipped such aspects into Retail Insider. For those people out there who found those pieces of interest then you might like to know that a sister…

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The Americans have a reputation for selling well and have managed to become world renowned for their ability to convince us of the worth of their products and services – with hype playing its part in this. There are few areas where things are as over-sold and over-hyped as technology – especially in Silicon Valley.…

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If there was ever a sign that the world of online fashion has grown up it came this past month with luxury fashion retailers Yoox and Net-A-Porter announcing their merger. There is no other way of describing this bit of corporate activity other than transformational. Not only for the parties directly involved but also for…

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David Walmsley, director, M&S.com 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? How we join together the physical and digital experiences of M&S for our customers. 2. What is the biggest challenge to your business? For the digital channels, the challenge remains being obsessive about listening to our customers and then turning the insight…

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Pret A Manger is a pretty successful business as evidenced by its recent results that showed it enjoying strong sales growth of 16% for 2014 – it has been in the double-digits annually for some years. But like any decent business the company continues to challenge itself in order that it does not go stale…

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The Name: Cannibal NYC The Place: New York City The Story: This is the tale of how you can buy a unit with one purpose in mind only to find it hijacked by the customer who has quite different ideas about what they want you to do with it. Cannibal is a B&B with a…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Gillian Drakeford, country manager for UK & Ireland at IKEA, and Bertrand Bodson, chief digital officer at Home Retail Group, who discussed the future of the physical store. Senior executives from John Lewis, The White Stuff, TM Lewin, The Entertainer, Cook and Farfetch were among…

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  All new bosses look to make their mark early in their tenures at the top but it is questionable whether some of their more radical moves are always relevant. Are they sometimes merely making changes for changes sake. The decision by new Kingfisher CEO Véronique Laury to rejig her top team’s responsibilities and restructure…

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  Alison Lancaster, interim marketing director, McArthurGlen Group 1. What is the greatest opportunity for retail businesses? To digitally transform their businesses in order to better serve customers anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Digital transformation will be a brand differentiator and essential ‘enabler’ for retailers (new and old) to compete and win on a global scale. This…

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  Furniture is bulky, it’s not a particularly frequent purchase, and arguably such high value items require a bit of touching-and-feeling before customers commit to making a purchase.   This suggests the category is not particularly well suited to online transactions. Not so it seems as there has certainly been some action in this area…

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  The Name: Audi The Place: Very selected showrooms: Piccadilly in London and also Beijing and Berlin. The Story: So the thing with selling cars is this – they’re big and you can’t get many into a small showroom and the rents on a large city showroom would be astronomical. And then, oh dear, you…

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  Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Easter is almost upon us and the big action in the retail sector is without doubt happening in the gardening sector. Apparently we…

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Retailers might well be adapting at a rapid rate in order to keep up with digital trends but they can at least console themselves with the fact consumers the world over all seem to have the same requirements. The over-arching demand is for convenience. From Australia to China via Russia they all want shopping to…

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  Bargain Booze reclaims the top spot as the best performing UK drinks website this month while The Wine Society crashes down the ranked table, according to tests conducted on the online stores of the top drinks sellers in March exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse. The value operator moved up four places…

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Guest international Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers Q&A:   Nadia Shouraboura, founder, Hointer  1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Definitely to unleash the power of in-store shopping by bringing the best of online technologies to physical stores. It’s a great opportunity for Hointer and for my fellow retailers. While with Amazon, for many…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Innovations in ubiquitous click & collect Everybody has to offer a delivery option nowadays it seems. Before the internet hit the retail scene home…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Raise a glass to successful beer retailers As painful as it is to see that beer sales in my beloved pub industry have been…

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The Name: Community Shop backed by parent company Company Shop. The Place: Two locations currently, Barnsley up north and Gypsy Hill in South London. But you have to be a deprived area to get one so be careful what you wish for. The Story: Actually I’m sure it would be very nice to have a…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Peter Williams, chairman of Boohoo.com and Alan White, chairman of Hotter Shoes, who discussed the issue of bringing a digital mindset to retail businesses. Senior executives from Tesco, Sweaty Betty, Wyevale Garden Centres, Cook and Muddy Boots were among those who heard how they both…

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Neil Sansom, omni-channel director, Moss Bros 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Development of our single customer view across all our channels and between our retail and hire businesses. Hire is probably what Moss Bros is well known for but it represents less than 20% of the business. Customers tend not to…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Value retailers’ popularity now perennial A few years back at the start of the recession Sir Terry Leahy suggested the discount retailers were enjoying…

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Retail Insider has waded into the debate about the term omni-channel before – siding with the camp that think it’s a redundant term. Our belief has been that it was merely invented by consultants and other ‘knowledge providers’ as the next solution to sell because they’d wrung all they could out of multi-channel. In reality…

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  Paul Coby, IT director, John Lewis 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? To test the boundaries of omni-channel retailing, all the while listening to what it is the customer wants and needs. 2. What is the biggest challenge to your business? To manage effectively the amount of technology enabled change we…

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Bargain Booze consolidated its position at the top of the table of the best performing UK drinks websites this month, according to tests conducted on the online stores of the top 25 drinks sellers in January by testing specialist Sitemorse. The company scored 8.28 out of 10 compared with 7.56 in December, which puts it…

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The Name: Gekås Ullared The Place: Tiny village of Ullared near Falkenberg on the west coast of Sweden The Story: We’ll start with a quiz. What in your estimation might be the top tourist attraction in Sweden in terms of visitor numbers? Ah, The Abba Experience centre: Nope. Wait. The Absolut Vodka distillery tour: Not…

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Is Shop Direct the real hero of UK e-commerce? Lots of retailers selling online have been held up as the next big thing in the sector – particularly in Shop Direct’s fashion category – I’m thinking of Asos, Boohoo, and even Burberry off the top of my head. But not really Shop Direct. These others…

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Today’s myriad customer journeys have made things so complicated for retailers. Where once it was simply a case of customers walking into a shop and buying the product, we now have numerous channels that have created a complex web of touch-points for retailers to manage. Speaking at Retail’s Big Show, organised by NRF, in New…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. For something as simple as a bit of folded card with an image on the front and some words inside, greetings cards have looked…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Logistics escaping its volume trap Logistics is so much about volumes – as City Link knows all too well. Yet many firms will try…

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Joel Palix, CEO, Feelunique 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Our greatest opportunity is to build our core UK market. It is the fastest growing economy in Europe with a booming beauty business growing by 6% a year and the most-advanced e-commerce market too. Feelunique is the leading premium beauty online retailer in UK, growing above 30% a year. We want to…

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The Name: Wholefoods Market The Place: America (all over the place) and the UK (a lot fewer but spreading fast-ish). The Story: Innovation is in the DNA of the Wholefoods business – these after all are the people who pretty much invented the category of organic, health and ethics-filled shopping. Give me a product… Lentils:…

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Consumers’ appetite for multichannel retail is posing many challenges to merchants and brand owners, but one thing they are all certain of is the increased power of digital channels. Over time they have also become aware of the need to not only improve how their product data is structured online – but also to better…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Travel retail going places It does not seem too long ago that stations and airports provided among the worst retail experiences for shoppers –…

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In almost 20 years of commenting on the retail sector the past week has been one of the least enjoyable. The reason for this is the dark cloud that Black Friday has cast over the industry. Firstly, it has been the level of bandwagon jumping by retailers, service providers, research houses, commentators, and media channels,…

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Fundamentally, pop-up shops are about creating an experience that allows you to connect with customers in a physical space and communicate your brand message. When you are a newly launched brand, the clarity of that message is crucial. Your first pop-up is also the first face-to-face impression you will create with the press and customers,…

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Melissa Shackleton, head of marketing, Hotel Chocolat 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Hotel Chocolat is a multi-faceted, dynamic brand with numerous opportunities. Our vertical business model means that we can be developing new strains of cocoa on our cocoa estate at the same time as conjuring up new cocoa cuisine recipes in…

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The Name: Rent The Runway The Place: Headquartered in New York and currently only operating in the United States with a small army of campus reps drumming up business in their core graduate student market. Grab ‘em young. The Story: Two young female business graduates and a lot of taffeta. There are all kinds of…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Retailers must answer the ‘why buy?’ question Retail is not only undergoing a digital revolution – with sales moving from physical stores to online…

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As Aldi looks to increase its range of products and add extra services in order to secure a greater average basket size and attract a broader mix of consumers it runs the risk of complicating its business (see earlier column). The simplicity of its limited range and basic utilitarian customer offering is a key component…

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  Chris Griffin, founder of Anatwine 1.What is the greatest opportunity for your business? To perfect the methodology of stock management and merchandising in order to drive increased revenues, profits and customer satisfaction, without increasing stock liabilities. 2.What is the biggest challenge to your business? Managing the different ways different organisations categorise their data. A…

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The Name: AO.com The Place: Headquartered in Bolton and what headquarters they are… but more of that later. The Story: In 1999 John Roberts thought he would shake up the selling of white goods good and proper. So he did. And everyone was happy. The end. It’s a bit short this week isn’t it. Can…

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It’s been 14 years since I had the most productive pint of my career, the one I was drinking with a colleague when we came up with “Click and Collect” as a name to define an idea that seemed mad to most observers. The idea was to let customers reserve something online and to then…

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These are transformational times for the grocery industry and the travails and challenges of the big supermarkets were laid bare at the recent IGD Convention in London. It has been the case that the big multiples have over the years continued to add complexity to their businesses as they have brought in extra services, added…

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  Retail Insider asks members of the Digital Retail Innovations 2014 report (sponsored by Webloyalty) Advisory Panel to take a close look at a specific innovation within the report.  Paul Wilkinson, head of technology research at Tesco Labs, peers through the lens to investigates Google Glass. 1. How innovative is Google Glass? There aren’t many…

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The Name: Sourced Market The Place: For now only in the capital with the flagship in St Pancras station but there are several others in the pipeline including a site near Victoria station for 2016 and leases on the table for two others. All other sites are under wraps. If I told you I’d have…

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Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beer for retail’s top executives. Brewer and beer: Schneider Weisse – Tap 5 Meine Hopfen-Weisse Strength: It’s hard to believe it is as strong as 8.2%. It’s much too subtle to make its power obvious. First impressions: Relaxed and easygoing but has underlying complexity. Has a…

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Retail Insider held its latest Event this week – with a combined English Wine Tasting and talk by John Bovill, IT and e-commerce director at Monsoon Accessorize – that highlighted the challenges of both increasing the acceptance/awareness of English wines and taking retailers on the multi-channel journey. Senior executives from Tesco, Waitrose, HMV, and Dobbies…

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Yossi Erdman, head of brand & social media, AO.com 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? The biggest opportunity for our business is to change the expectations people have when shopping for electricals. Rather than experiencing painful customer service, they should expect and receive quite the opposite. This includes great web content, free…

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The Name: Makers Café The Place: Shoreditch (for now). The Story: We’re hot off the mark on this one. This place has only been around for a fortnight or so but such has been the interest…   Go right ahead. OK, I give you ‘the myth of manufacturing’ – making things is hard, dirty work.…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 8:00am Friday Apr 18 – Back to it with a jolt After the quiet summer period it’s time to…

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Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beer for retail’s top executives. Brewer: Windsor & Eton Brewery Beer:  Conqueror 1075 Black IPA Strength: Very full bodied 7.4%. Don’t get on the wrong side of it. Conditioning: Has a soft carbonation but despite appearances this is not flabby in any way. First impressions: Looks…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Sir Ian Cheshire, group CEO of Kingfisher, who suggested the retail industry is on the cusp of a major acceleration in the use of digital channels by consumers who are increasingly utilising mobiles and enhanced internet connections. Senior executives from Tesco, Marks & Spencer, TM…

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Retail Insider and K3 bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Downsizing on the up Downsizing is definitely the name of the game today as the move towards multi-channel continues to force retailers to re-assess…

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Neil Ashworth, CEO, CollectPlus 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? When e-commerce first came to the fore, the accessibility and sophistication of a retailer’s website was the key to gaining competitive advantage. Now, with most of the UK’s major retail brands providing a digital commerce offering of some kind, the battleground for gaining…

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The Name: BrewDog The Place: Headquartered in Scotland (Ellon is the main bit with the original site in Fraserburgh used as the test bed for beers) but bars and shops are scattered all over the globe. The Story: Here at Retail Insider we like a company who shakes things up… Yeah, shakes things up: A…

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For around seven years the high street has been thought of as doomed, yet recent evidence suggests that this is not the case; the high street is changing, and our town centres may be able to compete once more with out-of-town developments and online competition. Though many high streets across the UK are still fighting…

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There has possibly been too much focus on price by TM Lewin that has detracted from the quality of the products it sells, admits TM Lewin CEO Geoff Quinn. In an interview with Retail Insider he says the company still very much believes in its heavily used multi-buys that feature the likes of ‘4 shirts…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you the first in a new monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. What role the hypermarket overseas? The woes of Tesco have certainly been well aired over recent months and the…

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In a new regular series we ask members of the Advisory Panel of the ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations 2014’ report (sponsored by Webloyalty) to take a look at some specific innovations within the report. First up is Craig Smith, e-commerce programme manager, Marks & Spencer, who casts his eye over Argos’ digital stores: 1. How innovative…

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Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beer for retail’s top executives. Brewer: Fuller’s Past Masters XX Strength: Rich and powerful 7.5%. Conditioning: Has always turned out well when looked after. First impressions: Pleasant aroma with slight spiciness. The strength is evident but it’s well balanced with only modest bitterness. After-taste: Generally leaves…

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John Browett, chief exectutive of Monsoon/Accessorize 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Monsoon Accessorize is already an international business. Over half our retail sales and profits come from outside the UK. But, there is much more to do, particularly for Accessorize. If we could just get to the same market penetration we…

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The Name: Hointer The Place: Not here. America. Seattle mainly. The Story: This is a tale of a woman who opens shops to sell things, anything, because she is interested in how she can sell stuff more efficiently rather than in what she sells. But beware you need a smart-phone or you are sunk. Curious:…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Geoff Quinn, CEO of TM Lewin extolling the virtues of the product above all else as he has taken the clothing firm from less than 10 stores to 150 global outlets. Senior executives from retailers including Boodles, Monsoon Accessorize, Dobbies Garden Centres, Thomas Pink and…

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Google Glass grabbed the top spot in the first annual ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations’ report but it is logistics solutions and mobile payments that feature most prominently as innovations predicted to have the greatest impact on the retail industry. The top 10 of the report includes DPD ‘Follow My Parcel’, InPost London Underground Lockers…

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Something pretty dramatic has been happening in the world of retail over the past few weeks. No, it’s not the supermarket price wars and neither is it the large number of IPOs the sector has been witnessing. It’s the change in management organisations at the some of the largest retailers to recognise the role of…

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While channel hopping between Glastonbury, Brazil v Chile, and Wimbledon – a true ‘quality of life’ evening – I enjoyed a bottle of Brown Sauce (here’s the background on the brew). Here’s my thoughts: I have avoided drinking beer with ‘brown’ in the name since a degree-threatening night consuming numerous pints of Newcastle Brown at…

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Regular Insider readers will know that beer regularly finds its way into the posts on this website and no apology is to be made for its frequent incursions because the editor Glynn Davis has a strong affinity with the product. This interest has manifested itself in Wales-based Brains Brewery recently inviting him to brew a…

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You don’t need Retail Insider to tell you that older shoppers are the grouping with the most disposable income in their pockets. While young people and those in the middle – with families and mortgages stretching their finances – are strapped for cash, it is their parents and grand-parents that are living it up, with…

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Orlando Martins, founder, Oresa 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?  To further our reputation as a leading builder of top performing retail boardrooms. We love seeing what’s possible and being a critical part of our clients’ strategic success. For us, there is no better feeling than having put in a team that…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 7:30am Monday Mar 1 – All systems go we’re told After at least two weeks of making contact with…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Edwina Dunn, co-founder of Dunnhumby  and now a director of Starcount, talking data, customer insight and loyalty programmes. Senior executives from retailers of varying sizes including Marks & Spencer, New Look,  Farfetch, John Lewis and Muddy Boots were among those who heard the pioneer of…

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The Name: Muddy Boots The Place: That throbbing metropolitan centre – Crouch End, N8 And? That’s it. Just N8. Don’t worry, it’s going to get bigger. We’re just telling you about it early so you can look smug later when there are lots of them. I didn’t know there was so much demand for wellies…

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Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beers for retail’s top executives. Brewer: Beavertown Brewery, London Beer: Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA Strength: 7.2%, pretty chunky. Label: Pretty scary on first sight. First impressions: Full-on, packs a punch. Not easily forgotten. Conditioning: Smart head that holds its own against any of the competition.…

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Bargain Booze maintains its position as the UK’s best performing drinks retail websites as it delivers a stronger performance than last month, according to tests conducted on the top 25 UK drinks retailers for April. The Conviviality Retail-owned business improved on the 7.56 out of 10 it achieved last month with a score of 8.28…

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Ning Li, CEO, Made.com  1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Scalability. Last year we launched the business in France and it has done incredibly well, now accounting for 20% of the total business. This success gave us the confidence to launch in Italy in September 2013, which is already doing well with…

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