The Retail Remedy Way – Hands on and foot down to retail growth

the retail remedy way case study

Retail Remedy is a hands-on retail consultancy, bringing our combined experience to the retailer, diagnosing the problems and then guiding the business through change to deliver results.

We work with all kinds of retailers all over the world with turnover upwards of £1m. This case study follows the path of one such retailer; a small business that had grown organically, picking up skills as they went but with very limited retail knowledge. However, sales had been in a slight decline for the previous three years.

This is the story of how we grew their turnover by 40% and increased margin by 3 percentage points.

Under the bonnet - case study

Getting under the bonnet

When we arrived, we found a very passionate team with enthusiasm that far outweighed their retail skillset.  The team were long-standing with management that were highly involved in the day to day running of the business. Their combined dedication and hard work had helped them firefight their way through to create a credible presence, albeit very inefficiently to that point.

Fortunately, they had the foresight to implement software systems for stock and inventory but without core retail practices in place, it was far from optimised. The tools helped the team find a way through the day to day problems they encountered but like with most systems data does not add value without the skill to convert it to information and knowledge.

When we start a project with a client we have a pre-determined set of areas to review, governed only in part by the objectives of the brief. We often find that the retailer only knows a small part of what they need. No-one knows what they don’t yet know. We will always expand our review to cover areas of the business that the owner may think is irrelevant but where we can identify a seam of opportunity to support the business to grow.

In this case, we reviewed all areas of the instore retail operational practices, all aspects of stock handling including management processes, ordering and stock holding levels, product merchandising and pricing, buying, category management including OTB and range review disciplines, staffing, pay and benefits, incentive programmes and e-commerce processes.

answer the why - case study

Answer the Why

With the information that we gathered we devised a phased programme of change that started with buy in from the top down. Like in any business, change does not happen because you say it must, change happens because people can see the benefit to them of doing so. We answered the why.

A three-day visioning workshop helped the team establish “What the brand is” and importantly “what the brand is not”. From this any questions that were raised were held up against the brand values and if they supported it, great, if they did not, then they were challenged. The foundations must be solid and defendable, not by us, but by the teams.

This groundwork can feel over done, but from our experience and what we have delivered for other retailers, we know that it is a valuable use of resource, that in the long term, saves time and helps to facilitate a smooth transition. It gives the business the “Big Plan” to work to and helps to measure progress particularly when you are in the thick of change and results still feel a long way off.

Right decisions - case study

Right decisions, right time, right place

The retail and buying teams were restructured to give the right level of decision making to the right people at the right point in the process. A dedicated buying team was created founded on best practice principles, retaining the existing team’s knowledge and passion for the business and product, but also recruiting the skill and experience that was previously lacking.

We put in place and re-platformed a new ERP system and together with the new resource, we enabled the business to implement and embed core buying processes such as OTB, continuity ranges, range reviews, category management and aged stock processes.

Basic retail practices and processes were reviewed and improved to current lead practice, to deliver a better customer journey and experience.

Immediate and sustainable results

The results of this overhaul were immediate and sustainable. Turnover of products increased; cash flow improved leading to an increased buy; aged stock moved out of the business further improving cash flow and the website made transactional.

With the systems in place, the skills to interpret the data presented, and the processes established, the business could work more efficiently and effectively to grow sales from £1m to £1.4m over 12 months. Not only that, gross margin improved by 3 percentage points too from better buying decisions and less aged stock in the business.

The business is now in a much stronger position to further support its own growth as it adds space in new locations in the coming year. The ability to scale from the practices and processes that have now been embedded into the culture of the business, mean it has the potential to further grow sales and improve margin and the legacy that we have left will benefit the business for more years to come.

This case study is not unusual, in fact it is quite typical of the sort of results we are able to bring to a small or medium sized retailer. It might be that you have reached a tipping point in your growth and need to build stronger foundations to continue to grow. So if you find

  • Your sales have flat lined, or are in decline
  • Your margin or profit are in decline
  • The customer experience that you want is not being delivered
  • Your retail processes and procedures are not as good as you experience elsewhere

Please get in touch with one of our experienced team.

So, if you need support re-focussing to navigate a new path and kick start your business growth get in touch. With our knowledge and experience we can work with you to build a more profitable future, so what are you waiting for?

new retail formula

The New Retail Formula

new retail formula

Fewer stores and less staff hours equals more profit? Is this the new retail formula that all retailers are aspiring to?

We have lost track of the number of retailers that are culling under-performing stores and cutting staff hours in the pursuit of profit in a difficult period of High Street retailing. Luxury purchases have been reined in as inflation starts to rise and political uncertainty makes mortgage and credit card rates look less certain than they once did.

In 10 years’ time fewer shops will have fewer staff working in them and yet we will probably all be spending more on our shopping. The trend is pointing that way. There are certainly more shops being closed than are being occupied by etailers debuting on the High Street. The rise of technology, the ability to shop without getting your wallet out or scanning an item at the till that Amazon is bringing us, would indicate the retail workforce should be worried.

Are town councils worried? Are landlords?

It is going to get harder to squeeze the same rent from the same players so in our opinion, if they aren’t ready to evolve, they should be worried. The need for flexibility and thinking about retail in a fresh way will be paramount. Norms will be challenged. This required evolution is tricky however, if your community shops online how do you protect your Town Centre? Our view has remained solid, if you are not building footfall driving activities (schools, colleges, cinemas, libraries, restaurants etc.) then you are vulnerable. Yet maybe the salvation is in etailing ?

How is it we have the rising trend of etailers opening stores, are they mad? No, they consider themselves opportunists opening showrooms to drive more sales online., and other furniture etailers get that the consumer wants to sit on a sofa before they buy it. How that rationale works for books, or fashion is debateable, but Joe Browns is buying it. The online fashion retailer wants to connect with its customer in a physical environment in Meadowhall to be precise.

The customer connects with brands not channels

Total retail sales are all but flat with fluctuations only happening between channels.  We must remember that the customer connects with brands, not channels, and they want a seamless experience whether they are in Sheffield or Portsmouth. To achieve that, staff knowledge and retail experiences need to marry up. When a customer has more information about a product on their phone than the person selling it in a shop, there is a problem.

The physical shop is an opportunity for the retailer to inspire the customer and give them a memorable delightful experience. When the retail experience has barely changed in the last 20 years it’s easy to see where the problem lies.

Etailers taking up positions on the High Street have that in mind; they were conceived in a time of change and are drowning in data that tells them more about their customer than a lifetime of standing at a till will ever do.

So the etailers have the advantage?

No, they just have a mindset that embraces a constantly changing environment. We expect they will face their own difficulties. It’s easy to drag and drop a product onto the home page, less easy to physically move it around a shop to fill gaps in range availability.

Anyone citing the “death” of retail and the UK’s High Streets must be coupled with the inflexible landlord and the retailer navel gazing. What we are seeing is the evolution of retail, natural selection, survival of the fittest. A new retail model is rising that will find more innovative ways to generate profits. The number of what we call retail stores today will decrease, but we will see an increasing number of sites that involve a form of purchase behaviour. Those sites will be served by by people, what we call shop assistants today.

A new retail formula is emerging, be in no doubt, and it will be more productive, with different touch points for the customer but ultimately serving that customer. Online, in store, till-free or with a full customer service, the customer will decide.