General Retail

Retail Study Tour 2017. Destination: London!

Our sixth annual Retail Study Tour was recently held on 27th and& 28th of September where London’s top retailers opened up their doors to deliver an inspiring and insightful experience for our attendees. The focus this year was on ‘Digital Innovation in Retail’, with an aim to shed light on how the most modern retails in London have adapted their business models to stay ahead:

The digital economy has disrupted traditional retailing, causing rapid shifts in consumer behavior and expectations, forcing retailers to constantly rethink their strategy so they remain relevant and competitive.


Day one kicked off with a tour of Marks and Spencer’s flagship store at Marble Arch. Our host, Commercial Manager  Emily Padgett shared some insights into how this iconic, yet traditional retail giant has remained competitive despite the many challenges of the digital economy



That afternoon, we were treated to a masterclass on ‘The Future of Shopping’ with global management consultancy company Accenture who shared with us some insights on the future of retail and the impact of technology.

We ended Day 1 with a store visit To Oliver Bonas on Tottenham Court Road – a ‘quirky’ retailer with over 42 stores across the UK boasting an eclectic mix of everything from homeware to clothes, furniture and cards. Our guide and speaker – Katharine Saralis is the company’s omnichannel project manager within its e-commerce department, shared how the retailer’s online sales have become such a success story, mainly due to how the company builds its brand awareness.


Day two started with a visit to the famous luxury department store – Harrods. The name speaks for itself here as people flock from all over the globe to shop at this renowned retail destination. After being given the rare opportunity to [...]

October 10th, 2017|General Retail, Uncategorized|

Ten Key Customer Questions That All Retailers Should Be Able To Answer

Today’s shoppers know what they want and they know how and where to get it. Retailers who answer customers’ questions with throwaway responses such as: “that’s not my department,” “have you tried the website” and “I can’t help you”, will simply drive shoppers to take their business elsewhere!

The team at have listed ten key in-store questions your customers are asking that smart retailers can answer with the right technology. (warning! non-tech savvy retailers – look away now!)

• I’ve been looking at a few things on your website – can I see them in the flesh?

Don’t ask the customer to show you the products on their own phone. It shows a lack of access to information and it’s an effort for the customer, which might stop them buying.

Do use a connected experience platform to help give them access to all the information they need. This technology may even be integrated with their account to prompt for future purchase.

• I can’t find my size – do you have it?

Don’t ignore the fact that moving stock to backrooms to free up floor space and having different systems for in-store, online and nearby stock can frustrate the customer. Also don’t risk saying something is in stock when it isn’t.

Do use staff mobile scanners, self-service apps and kiosks to allow for fast, seamless local lookup. Integrate your stock systems, and use dedicated staff to fetch backroom stock.

• I found this in another store for €10 less – why should I buy it here?

Don’t refuse to acknowledge that competitors might offer a better deal than you. Don’t keep your staff in the dark about the latest product news/messaging, and don’t allow centralised supply chains to derail attempts to empower [...]

July 22nd, 2016|General Retail|

Social Media for Retailers. Part 1

Why should retailers engage in social media?

If retailers are able to connect with consumers on social media they increase their visibility with an audience that’s already inclined to buy their products. Using social media can help retailers build brand awareness and extend the amount of time potential customers spend interacting, browsing and considering a brand. By creating these online communities filled with entertaining and valuable information, interesting insights about the brand and an active support base, retailers will ensure that visitors to their social media are converted to fans and eventually, if the social media strategy is being done well, to repeat customers.

Tips for retailers:

Who do you want to target?

Understanding the audience on your chosen social media channels can be a valuable tool for developing targeted campaigns. Consider using sponsored (promoted) ads to help reach your target audience

Encourage interaction

Social media is not just about promoting your brand; it’s a medium for two-way communication with your customers that will help address the needs, wants and interests of customers online. Encourage them to share their experiences, acknowledge both praise and negative feedback and share useful information with your followers.

Time your activity

Take advantage of current events, holidays and social trends to grow your followers organically.  There are also well documented ‘best times’ to post on social media to capture the most views. Click here for an example.
4. Choose your channels
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn…the list goes on! An organisation’s social media channels must reflect its business ethos. For example, a youthful, fashionable clothing store will need to engage with followers in a very different way to one who offers a professional service for a more mature audience…stay tuned for more on this in next weeks’ blog [...]

May 10th, 2016|General Retail|

The Top 10 Future Retail Trends

How is our current world of retailing set to develop in the coming years? New research from Planet Retail outlines its key predictions for future retail trends.

1. Fewer but more influential stores:

In the future, shoppers will have to pay for home delivery as loyalty cards will become a thing of the past. Electronic retailers or “e-tailers” (those who sell one particular type of product over the internet) will cease to exist and checkoutless stores will become a reality.

2. Retailers working together :

More retailers will begin to recognise the benefits of working together and we will see more retailers joining forces by 2020 through initiatives such as in-store concessions or collection points for online orders.

3. Battle for the most convenient store experience:

The digital war is set to overtake the price war. Retailers are looking to technology to differentiate and improve the overall in-store experience through enhancements such as in-store navigation and mobile payments. Retailers are also predicting increased investment in that are currently given low priority for example:

‘Endless aisles’- the concept of using in-store kiosks to allow customers to order products which are no longer in stock or not sold in the store.
‘Smart fitting rooms’ – a bar code scanner mounted to fitting room walls that enables the shopper to find out more information about the item(s) they are trying on, such as colour availability or recommended items similar to that tried on.

4. Personalisation to reach new levels:

Currently only 15% of global shoppers receive and immediately redeem real-time vouchers and discounts via their mobile while in a store. However, 38% of shoppers would like to do this, given the opportunity.

5. The end of points-based loyalty cards:

Shoppers are becoming increasingly less concerned with brand loyalty [...]

What is Work-Based Learning?

Good question!

This term can be difficult to define beyond the notion that it is about learning, not teaching and that it occurs in the workplace rather than ‘on campus’. Work-based learning is the balance or relationship between learning and work – related qualifications are generally structured around the demands of a particular type of work, rather than a formal, ‘taught’ educational program. Work-based or ‘on-the-job’ learning is much more than a training course or a single workplace activity and often exists in a variety of forms such as teamwork, coaching, observation, mentoring and computer-based learning.

One of the main challenges that arise from the concept of ‘work-based learning’ lies in attempting to clarify exactly what work-based learning involves and the contexts in which it occurs. There is no precise answer for this question; instead we must simply recognise that this type of qualification simply identifies that learning that has occurred and been adequately demonstrated through work based activity.

The advantages for employees undertaking a work-based learning qualification include:

Employees are able to see direct relevance between studying for a qualification to work-based learning and their role in the workplace.
Gaining support from their employers.
The ability to undertake learning around their own professional development needs and individual interests.
Participants are able to negotiate the focus, context, timescale and assessment of their work.
Provides a flexible form of study to suit their working and personal lives.
Demonstrates commitment to their professional role.
Often contributes to a better overall staff morale

Benefits of work based learning for employers include:

A more motivated workforce that becomes increasingly focused on organisational challenges.
Improved staff retention rates
Increased loyalty from managements’ investment in the development of its workforce.
Enhanced capabilities of existing workforce which [...]

Dublin City Centre’s Transport Study – Retail Ireland’s Reaction

Retail Ireland today released their statement on the controversial plans proposed by Dublin City Council to ban private cars from large parts of the city centre:
Monday, 10 August 2015
New measures proposed under the Dublin City Centre Transport Study are likely to make large portions of the city entirely inaccessible to shoppers who prefer or need to travel by car, and would have a very serious and damaging knock on effect on city centre retailers, according to two leading industry bodies Retail Ireland and DublinTown. The groups said many of the study’s recommendations were vague and called for any new proposals for city centre transport management to first be subject to robust impact assessment.

The groups warned that the joint Dublin City Council and National Transport Authority proposals to displace private car access to, through and within the core city centre zone will negatively impact not only local residents and commuters, but also those that wish to visit the city centre to shop, do business and spend leisure time. They would create enormous problems for shops trying to get goods to store, and for customers trying to bring purchases home. The proposals comes at an already challenging time for city centre retail, with intense competition from suburban shopping centres, the closure of Clerys, ongoing criminality and anti-social behaviours, and Luas construction work.

Data from the CSO indicates that Dublin is home to almost 10,000 individual retail and wholesale companies. The industry directly employs 27% of Dublin’s entire private sector workforce – a total of some 70,000 people. The overwhelming majority of large city centre retailers have expressed grave concern at the plans as currently set out and the impact they would have on footfall and [...]

August 10th, 2015|General Retail, Industry News|

Retail Managers – The Advantage of Engaging with your Employees

For many retail managers, the most difficult part of their job is people management. If your employees aren’t consistently performing as you expect them to, there are only two reasons why:

They can’t.
They don’t want to.

There’s no mystery really, either your employees lack something essential which prevents them from performing with excellence, or they don’t meet your expectations because they simply don’t want to.

Managers need to think of these two root causes as separate disorders in order to take appropriate action.

Employees Don’t Because They Can’t

No matter how much you request, persuade, beg or demand your employees to achieve a certain level of performance, sometimes they don’t give it to you because they simply can’t.

Identify Barriers to Excellence

You can separate legitimate barriers from mere complaining by asking your employees one simple question: “What makes it difficult or impossible for you to do your job?” The legitimate barriers that your employees identify will typically fall into four categories:

Physical Barriers
Time Barriers
Financial Barriers
Competence Barriers

Identifying these barriers is easier than you may realise. Chances are that y employees think about them and communicate them behind your back quite frequently so if given the opportunity to communicate without fear of recrimination, they will help you compile an extensive barriers list.

Eliminate Barriers to Excellence

Ask your employees for their ideas, and empower them to implement the solutions. Give them a second chance if the solution fails, and be sure to acknowledge or praise them when they succeed.

Some Employees Just Don’t Want To

When you remove the “can’ts,” all that’s left in your operation are 2 types of employees; those who excel and those who obviously need to be replaced.

Supporting Success is Managing Excellence

The people part of a retail operation is [...]

Irish Employers – Minimum Wage or Living Wage?

News broke this week that Ikea will be introducing a ‘living wage’ for its entire Irish staff from next year as part of plans to offer “meaningful” pay to all employees. Unlike the National Minimum Wage (which is not based on the cost of living) the ‘living wage’ is based on the concept that work should provide an adequate income to enable individuals to afford a socially acceptable standard of living.

A group of unions and other campaigners have pitched the living wage for Ireland at €11.50 per hour, and although it’s not yet known on what basis Ikea will calculate its rate, the company already pays above the minimum wage in Ireland with rates its hourly rates starting from €9.77.

This follows from the Low Pay Commission’s recent proposal that a rise of 50c per hour to the minimum wage should come into practice, bringing the rate from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour.

Business groups have complained that the proposed rise will risk the economy’s fragile recovery by leading to cuts in hours and jobsas a result. The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) said the move would create false wage expectations across the economy. Employers group Ibec stated that the economic evidence showed the case for an increase did not stack up. Speaking on the same programme, Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín, said the Low Pay Commission was not doing what it should be doing, and most people in work who were in poverty would not be affected by this increase. He said most people on the minimum wage were dealing with increasing rents and ballooning costs, and this figure of a 50c rise would not be sufficient to help those people.

On the other hand, Unions [...]

If you Work in Retail – This is a Must-Read!

A job in retail is often a starting point for many on their career path. This is a role where employees first learn the basic transferable skills such as; showing up on time, working productively with others and with customers, and how to work effectively as part of a team.

But have you ever stopped to consider the value that experience within a retail role can add, not just to your CV, but to your overall work ethic and how you cope with everyday situations?

Retail employees are regularly taught life-lessons like how to handle critical feedback or how to prioritize multiple demands on your time as well as invaluable lessons like what it feels like to have done something the right way even though no one is ever going to know. As the nation’s largest employer, the retail industry plays a significant role in training our workforce and providing many with the foundation for successful careers in any industry.

While this is something that many retail employees are aware of, there are still job-seekers out there that are unsure whether or not to include retail experience on their CV — they wonder if it is relevant or if sets them apart in a positive way. The answer is resoundingly “Yes.”

Some of the reasons to list Retail Experience on your CV include:

Recruiters seek the skills that retail instills. Hiring managers know that a candidate with retail experience commands the key skills they seek, including a personable, respectful nature; ability to work with anyone; ability to take direction; composure; a willingness to take responsibility; and the ability to multitask.
Money Management. The most basic retail roles generally afford employees little more than a humble wage. For those [...]

Iconic Dublin Site Set to Become Top Tourist and Shopping Facility

Work on a €90 million redevelopment of Dublin’s historic Iveagh Markets is to get under way this spring, more than 20 years after its regeneration was first proposed. Temple Bar publican Martin Keane’s plans to turn the area into Dublin’s version of Covent Garden are on track and The Irish Independent estimated that the project will create over 1,000 jobs.

Keane told Shelflife Magazine of his plans for the project; “The idea is to do an Irish version of Covent Garden with farmers’ markets, art and craft sections, and retailers selling Irish tweeds and clothing.” Describing the project as his “lifetime dream”, the owner was keen to highlight the fact that the properties are not in Nama and are debt-free (Source:

The project includes plans for a market, a hotel, a pub, a number of shopping outlets and a performance area. A restoration project for the area was proposed by Dublin City Council in 2008 and was first approved by An Bord Pleanala in August 2007 although the building has since lain empty for many years.

Much of the preliminary building work has now been completed on the new project and it is estimated to be completed in March 2018. We look forward to seeing the outcome of this huge development project and hope that it will offer a whole new dimension to the Irish retail experience!

                   Iveagh Market as it currently looks                                                                      Covent Garden in London