Different faces of modern day retailing – quality will always shine.

Much has been written in the UK about the demise of the traditional retail outlet. Some adversely affected by the recession, others by the rise of on-line powerhouses such as Amazon and eBay, and of course the rise of the out-of-town super store that we have all become accustomed to and use frequently and conveniently.

In my own home town of Henley On Thames there appears to have been an endless merry-go-round of stores coming and going. Yet there still remain the bastions of service, quality and choice like our local butcher and fishmongers.Image

There are also the local produce markets which vary wildly in range and quality of goods.

However the rise of the on-line specialist store using direct marketing, web sites and social media, and indirect means such as Etsy and eBay is a welcome addition to the consumer’s choice. Unburdened by the overheads associated with  having to maintain Retail premises these businesses must strive to build reputations without meeting their customers face to face.

However just in the same way as Pop Up Restaurants became a viable choice  for restaurant owners so too have events, festivals, and sporting occasions offered a suitable platform for retail businesses. Now, with joined up marketing and publicity these niche business can grow and take their brands to the buying public directly, albeit for short periods of the year.

Skandic Hus is just such a business. They are a good example of an ex-bricks and mortar business that has evolved into a sophisticated on line brand supported by appearances at carefully selected events. According to their website they provide a “unique selection of items from designers in Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Skandic Hus offers a collection of stylish and innovative products.”

This niche approach works well when translated into the pop up shop/stall dynamic. The traditions and rules of good retailing still apply though. They have to make your stall stand out just in the same way that an on-line brand or retail store does.  WellChild’s Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds, Daylesford Organic Farm is just such an example. A fantastic venue for such an event in the heart of the Cotswolds. Cramped for space the retailer needs to combine the best of their brand along with the right amount of stock. This should  be the same stock as offered on line but also consideration should be given to offer something unique to customers visiting the event. The Skandic Hus store at Dayelsford is shown in the photograph below. The  christmas flavour comes across strongly with major billing here being given to Swedish “Tomte’ , fabrics and candles. For this of you that do not know about Tomtes I managed to get up close and personal with a couple. (See below).

The  online/pop up is a great way to market for young growing companies as well as an excellent vehicle for offering local businesses a wider stage on which to perform. The success of this approach will be predicated on  an integrated marketing mix leveraging of public relations, on-line marketing and social media. Oh and lest I forget, a lot of hard work, dedication, passion and perseverance.

Pop up shops in readiness for the opening of the  WellChild's Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds, Daylesford Organic Farm
Pop up shops in readiness for the opening of the WellChild’s Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds, Daylesford Organic Farm
A couple of right Tomtes.
A couple of right Tomtes.

Great design makes all the difference

Great design makes all the difference

I was recently asked by a customer, Skandic Hus, to produce some images that reflected their passion for scandinavian design. They are setting up an online business later this year based around such design houses as Design House Stockholm, iittala and Kosta Boda. In addition they are attending a number of select events around the UK where they will exhibit and have stock available for purchase.

This particular bird was designed by Oiva Toikka and is just one taken from his awesome “Birds” series. Hopefully you will agree .. pretty special.

To register with Skandic Hus just click on the photo.

There are many ways to cross the Channel.

You can fly, drive through the tunnel, take one of the numerous ferry options or for those of a somewhat  healthier disposition than myself, sail, row or even swim.

But to my mind only one option captures the true beauty and passion of the trip. The Ferry crossing affords the traveller vistas like this and the time to enjoy them.Image

Admittedly the crossing was not without it’s challenges. The lavatory in my allotted cabin did not flush. Not a good feature in a lavatory at the best of times, but on a ship potentially disastrous, if not for the current incumbent then surely for those hearty sea farers to follow. The chief engineer was sent down to check this out. “It does not flush ” he said in broken English. “I will call someone to get it fixed” he informed me. I told him that is exactly the course of action I had settled upon and now fate had brought us together some 40 minutes into the cruise.

Having been assured that the issue with the errant lavatory would be dealt with I thought this would be a good time to load the wallet up with Euros as I had none with me prior to departure.

I asked at the information desk as to “the whereabouts of the bureaux de change?”

“It is closed” was the reply that met me like a wet flannel in the face.

“When will it be open? I enquired.

“It won’t” snorted the rather unhappy looking info desk lady.

“We only open on departure”. A less than useful service on a 5 hour trip!  She went on, “I made an anouncement”. She then added  in a rather accusatory tone, that I must of heard her announcement .

“Well I didn’t”. Possibly because at the time “I was too b****y busy trying to get the damn toilet into something like flushing working order”

Despite Brittany Ferries attempts to scupper my dreamboat experience the images I took while the sun was setting made the crossing all the more worthwhile.

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