Stop Playing Shops – What are the key ingredients to becoming a scalable retail enterprise?

On Wednesday 8th December 2010 3 specialist organisations from my network of partners, all experts in their respective fields, gather around my meeting room table. The purpose was to talk about how, as a group, we can offer a simple, cohesive, one-stop-solution that would enable smaller retailers, with the aspiration to grow, to really turbo charge their businesses for a limited investment… and I think between us we have cracked it!

“I want to stop playing shops and have a professional retail business…”

It surprises me how often clients tell me that they want to “stop playing shops” – many clients dream of taking their business from a single store retail shop (with or without online capability) to a professional, scalable multi-channel retail enterprise. The reason they come to me is whilst they usually have passion, drive, enthusiasm and resources (time, investment funds etc) the one thing they lack is the expertise / know how to get started… Well that’s exactly what I can add!

So, what are the key ingredients to becoming a scalable retail enterprise?

1. EPOS with a Retail Management System…

One thing clients quickly learn is that a decent EPOS system is the key to so many processes that enable them to better understand the performance dynamics of their business, and therefore what actions need to be taken to replicate success…

EPOS typically provides all product information set up, stock and financial postings and transactional reporting / analytics. It also, usually, comes with a BIG capital investment… but it doesn’t have to.

2. E-commerce capability with full integration to EPOS…

The second thing we tend to uncover is either the missed opportunity of not having any online transactional capability OR that the website is not delivering as much as it could.

In this day and age it is practically inexcusable for anyone serious about retailing NOT to have a decent ecommerce capability. I’d also suggest you should select an ecommerce product which offers full synchronisation with your EPOS. I am a great believer in reducing manual intervention and duplication of effort – so an ecommerce that was based on EPOS would be ideal – enabling a single central source of product data as well as all pricing, promotions and stock availability information.

PS – be mobile enabled….

3. Quality branding – across all customer touch points – online, in store and on shelf!

Smaller retailers tend to shy away from investing in quality graphic design – even though the visual merchandising and product presentation both in store and online can make the difference to conversions.

Whilst it may seem unlikely at the beginning of your retail journey your brand could at some point in future be a household name – remember Mr Marks and Mr Spencer started out with a penny bazaar… if you can create a quality brand identity, your business’ fingerprint, that makes your business instantly recognisable to your customers, online or in store, it will add value to your business and help your customers to remember you!

4. Being easily found for what you sell where you sell it…

There is only so many customers you can attract from passing trade, so there will be a time when you need to focus on your marketing. Search marketing is probably the most cost effective, if undertaken properly. Search marketing enables you to attract new customers – because if a consumer has to search for a product they don’t naturally consider your retail business as the place to go for their needs (yet!)

Your search marketing approach can be implemented at the local level – leveraging your store locations and the natural catchment area and also at the national level (assuming you offer nationwide coverage for your online sales…). The 2 critical ingredients would be local internet marketing and ecommerce SEO…

5. Going Social – getting loyal customers to talk about your brand, to review your products and recommend you to their friends…

Finally, you cannot afford to ignore the power of social media and social networks. Consumers are influenced by peer group review considerably more than they are by advertising or marketing messages. Make it easy for consumers to engage in a conversation with your brand – deal with negativity swiftly and appropriately, thank people for good feedback.

A retailer should be taking advantage of facebook, twitter, blogging, YouTube, Foursquare and relevant review sites to name a few.

How to really turbo charge your retail business growth for a limited investment!

You’ll have to read my next blog, entitled “How to really turbo charge your retail business growth for a limited investment!” to find out how the group of us have “cracked it”. In this article I will explain how we can offer a simple, cohesive, one-stop-solution that enables smaller retailers, with the aspiration to grow, to really turbo charge their businesses for a limited investment…


About Clare Bailey

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

  1. Pingback: How to really turbo charge your retail business growth for a limited investment! | Clare Rayner: The Retail Champion

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