Review of Independent Retailer Month UK by @clarerayner @retailchampion #Indieretail

What an amazing couple of months! What a vast amount of work has been done! What amazing support from so many wonderful contributors! What an achievement! That’s how I feel right now looking back on everything that’s happened since the announcement that I was to be the official UK partner for Independent Retailer Month… This blog will attempt to acknowledge and thank everyone involved and share my thoughts on looking ahead to 2012!

From appointment to UK partner to live & online in just 11 days!

Hard to believe it’s only 8 weeks yesterday, 2nd June, that the founders of Independent Retailer Month (Kerry Bannigan & Tom Shay) announced that I was to be their official UK Partner! Kelly Molson, Managing Director of Rubber Cheese design agency then quickly helped us create the fantastic logo and colour scheme which enabled us to bring the website and social media activities to life – all achieved in just 11 days, with the website launched on 13th June thanks to the implementation by Andrew Rayner of e-mphasis Internet Marketing.

28 guest bloggers planned for a wide range of business topics

The ensuing 2 weeks secured 28 guest bloggers (if you exclude mine, Kerry’s and Tom’s) – all contributing their time, thoughts, hints, tips, experiences, opinions and advice to support Independent Retailer Month.

In addition I personally was really putting in the hours on facebook and twitter to spread the word as much as possible!

A few things could have been better – we didn’t go viral 😦

I was hoping that the YouTube “I love this shop because…” was going to get loads of excited retailer posting messages and encouraging their customers to do the same. It didn’t quite go that way… camera shy lot that you are! All credit to Sarah Decent from Modish however who showcased her new shop in Cambridge and thus far is the only retailer proud enough (and not camera shy!) to share her video message – perhaps a few more will consider sharing some video feedback in the coming months – I’m not giving up on YouTube having been really inspired by the “it get’s better” project (look it up)!

UK Shops Directory… It helps to be married to a search marketing expert 🙂

I do have the benefit of co-owning my businesses with my husband, Andrew… Sometimes he has mad ideas (inventor-geek-genius that he is :-)) other times he has great ideas. Well, UK Shops directory was one of them! A page on where retailers can update their own outlet info, including any details of offers / events that they had planned for Independent Retailer Month. Not only did it provide a list of those involved but also a useful “backlink” (important ingredient in search marketing) to their own web pages too!

FREE online retail advice sessions via GoToTraining

In addition to all of the social media environments, promotions from supporters and general “noise” I was making, I felt I needed to do something more, proactively, to support the Independents out there. Having been on Declan Curry’s radio 5 live business show on Sunday 3rd July as the shows “Business Doctor” and having had feedback on Twitter that people would have valued more time, I decided to run my own “phone-ins”! For the 3 Monday’s from 11th – 25th July I ran FREE webinar sessions (call them “retail therapy”!), providing both structured and on-the-fly advice and support for retailers. The 8-10 indies who took part in the sessions certainly seemed to value them, which was very rewarding and has inspired me to provide more online sessions as part of my day to day retail mentoring programmes!

Press Coverage – Retail Gazette’s “Indie Retailer Month diary”

The online editor of Retail Gazette is a great supporter of Independent Retail so I was over the moon when he asked me to do a feature, every Friday in July, looking back at how the past week has been going, giving a plug for any Indie retailer who had inspired me and sharing some top-tips based on conversations I’d had with retailers during the prior week.

So far those who’ve had the “plug” include Ruth Jones of Seriously Sofas in Kingston, Deryane Tadd of The Dressing Room in St Albans, Michelle Watson of Birds Yard in Leeds, Sarah Decent of Modish Shoes in Cambridge, Natalie Peters of Amabo inLytham and Andrew Critchet of Fish& also in Leeds… I hope the mention draws the well deserved crowds to you!

So, how do I feel coming to the end of the first ever Independent Retailer Month UK?

Quite emotional. For those who know me, you’ll know what a shocker that statement is!

I’m blown away by the level of support that an unheard of campaign has had, the passion all the independents have for their businesses, the hard word and dedication that everyone has put into this to ensure we’ve reached as many as we can in the limited time that we’ve had.

I’m emotional that now it’s come to an end for 2011… I don’t want the momentum to stop – I really hope that we all keep the conversations going and keep the focus on the importance of independent retail in the wider retail mix and in the regeneration and reinvention of our high streets.

To sum up what I’ve learned from this experience: by working together we can maintain a focus on the unique value-add that Independent Retailers bring to the sector; to engage the support from relevant organisations and to secure the future of our communities and our high streets.

And looking ahead to 2012? What plans do I have for Independent Retailer Month UK in our Olympic year?

Lots 🙂 Including a really big surprise which I can’t share just yet no matter how much I want to – but I promise it’ll be great!!!!

I’d like to know what YOU think we should be planning for 2012 as well… because this campaign is for YOU after all!

That’s all I’ve got to say really – you’ve got a couple more fab blogs to follow before the end of the month, Kerry Bannigan’s, and, Ruth Jones from Seriously Sofa’s ends the month with the story of her incredible journey that culminates in her launching her retail business in just a few days time!

Happy Independent Retailer Month 2011 – it’s been a blast!


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
This entry was posted in Blog-a-day for Indie Retail, Events, Independent Retailer Month 2011, The Retail Champion. Bookmark the permalink.

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