Category Archives: Information

How retailers can maximise sales in a Golden Quarter like no other

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

From a retail point of view, whether we are ready or not, September means all eyes start looking towards Black Friday and the Christmas Peak period. The importance of this period can’t be underestimated, particularly in 2021 on the back of shops being shut for such long periods during the various lockdowns. Finally we return to a more “normal” period of retail behaviour and holiday festivities with some strong indications the bounce back could be like no other. Let’s explore what some of the forecasts are predicting and how the season is expected to play out this time.

Consumer confidence has been consistently rising through this year and should be closing in on positive territory as we get to the golden quarter. GfK’s trusted Consumer Confidence Index is already up to -8 from the latest August reading, putting it ahead of pre-pandemic levels, and barring any serious economic or public health issues it should keep its momentum.

Absence makes the wallet grow stronger

Within this, there have been big jumps in major purchase indexes too, with shoppers seemingly ready to spend on the right products at any price point. UK consumers are estimated to have saved around £200bn in the various lockdowns, while 54% of those savers are ready to spend it on Black Friday and Christmas according to a recent survey by Future plc.

A big draw for spending that money for most people this year will be the fact that we all missed out in many ways last year. Whether it be seeing more loved ones, a family holiday or a trip to an atmospheric high street to do the Christmas shopping. Those returning will be expecting a positive experience from brands and retailers, and it will be important to consider both shoppers that are part of this group, along with those that remain cautious with the virus still circulating.

Whichever way people behave, it looks like certain patterns are going to come to the fore. Home improvements, fashion, health & beauty, and toys of course are all set to be categories of real growth this season. Although there could be a whole series of sectors that could benefit when it comes to potential sales growth due to pent up demand.

All of this confidence is pointing to optimism for the festive period when it comes to sales forecasts for 2021. Although a slight drop is predicted in total retail terms due to less food sales this year, Retail Week research predicts a 0.5% increase in non-food sales vs Q4 2020, and a 1.7% improvement figure in comparison with 2019. The two year increase largely comes as a result of consumers spending more time at home, and subsequently spending more on home improvements and entertainment.

Retailers primed for the discount season

So when will the spending begin? Last year marked a change for the season and its normal pattern with a much longer promotional season. Consumers were urged to shop early due to the strain on the supply chain, and significantly Amazon positioned its Prime Day in October, a month earlier than Black Friday in November.

Amazon moved Prime Day back to its regular summer slot this year, and it remains to be seen whether they will launch another promotion in October to match its 2020 position. I wouldn’t bet against the ecommerce giant pencilling in another sale for that valuable slot again, whether it is another branded Prime Day or otherwise. If it does, then other retailers will follow suit and we will get another lengthy promotional period like we did last year.

Christmas shopping starting earlier this year

There are some warnings of issues that could dampen the mood this year however. Pandemic related problems could arise of course, along with truck driver shortages and global supply chain disruptions that may delay goods arriving to the UK at all. Reporting by The Observer found that retailers are already warning consumers to get thinking about shopping for Christmas to avoid disappointment. It’s the second year in a row where such implications have been highlighted. It is becoming clear that consumers are hearing that call, a recent Ebay survey showed that 41% of shoppers are aiming to get their Christmas shopping done before December even begins, as opposed to just 25% last year.

Retail as ever will continue to rise to any challenge. 86% said they will enact the in-store safety and hygiene measures they relied on during 2020 in order to protect their customers. Meanwhile businesses are acting now to ensure they have the stock they need for a successful Christmas period. With more consumers in store this year, retailers will need to ensure they are managing any issues behind the scenes. They will also need to ensure that customers on the shop floor are getting the purchasing experience they have looked forward to.

As we approach Christmas 2021, consumers are certainly going to have plenty of choice as to where to spend their budgets, and retailers will have to do all they can to make sure they stand out from the crowd. Engaging marketing, whether it be store representatives, training or merchandising activities, can ensure that the consumer knows who you are and why they should be choosing your products. Once that is achieved then loyalty and success will follow, and not just for Christmas.

By Tom Harwood, Data and Insight Manager, Gekko Group

Article published by BDaily

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What do the Tory candidates policies mean for the high street

Gekko Retail Marketing Tech Wearable

In the blizzard of spending splurges promised by the two candidates to be our next Prime Minister has been some announcements that could be very significant for High Street retailers. Boris Johnson, the clear favourite, has announced that he wants to introduce 100% business rate relief on free-to-use ATMs to keep as many as possible open in town and city centres to ensure shoppers can withdraw money. He has declared that he wants to curb the closure of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that has followed the surge in contactless payments.

While this may appeal to shire Tories of a certain vintage the trouble is the Boris approach is as feasible as owning a unicorn. In a contactless world, less and less people are drawing out cash when you can tap a card or your phone. The subsidies he is proposing would not allow for the cash machine to be free as it still needs to be maintained, filled, connected and bank charges apply which make the model loss making for any operator especially if it is used infrequently. More poppycock from the master of poppycock.

Johnson also talks about wanting ‘a range of bureaucratic and legal barriers to business to be swept away’ to allow high-street shops to flourish. This includes an ‘overhaul of town and country planning laws that mean converting one form of premises ie. a shop, cafe, pub or hot-food takeaway, to another can be a lengthy process’.

One option being considered by Johnson’s team is introducing a new “A” class business category covering shops, financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes. The measure would allow existing shops to easily offer additional services.

He also called for the immediate unlocking of a £675m government fund earmarked for sprucing up high streets around Britain. If he becomes prime minister, he plans to announce this summer the towns that have been successful in bidding for shares of the cash.

Although on paper the overhaul of planning laws looks attractive, the problem is planning laws relating to change of use are not in his power to change, neither will £675m go far and how does he propose to choose which towns are more worthy of the fund? As ever with Johnson’s announcements rhetoric trumps reality.

Meanwhile Jeremy Hunt has pledged to exempt hundreds of thousands of small businesses from business rates if he becomes Prime Minister. Hunt intends to scrap taxes for nine out of 10 high street shops in a bid to save the high street. The claim is the move will save newly exempted businesses up to £6,500 each and will scrap taxes on 24,500 businesses based in Birmingham (5,000), Manchester (8,000), Leeds (6,000), Newcastle (2,000) and Bristol (3,500).

Hunt said that his government would reform the current Retail Discount rate, so that businesses which qualified for the discount would see their entire business rate bill cancelled. At present, those with a ratable value below £51,000 are eligible for their bill to be cut by one third.

Additionally, one of Hunt’s best trailed policy announcements has been a promise to cut corporation tax from 19% to as low as 12.5%, a policy which has been costed at £13bn a year. His generous spending pledges have seen him receive some flak from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Hunt the self-proclaimed entrepreneur is certainly more progressive in his thinking and his ideas may just work to support independent traders on the high street who are being strangled by inflated taxes. The corporation rate cut will pay for itself making Britain an attractive base and undoubtedly bring more corporates to base themselves in the UK and with a No Deal Brexit in site, more initiatives like this is what the UK needs to survive.

The trouble is according to all the polling, Hunt has little chance of getting in. Just like the rest of us, it seems High Street retailers had better batten down the hatches as Tory Party members take the ultimate gamble in installing Johnson in to Number 10.

To read the full article please visit London Loves Business.

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Training: Get in the groove and go with the data flow

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Omnichannel marketing means freeing up your data and schooling employees in the analytic tools necessary to sharing digital content with social networks.

Toshiba, a longstanding client of Gekko, share their views:

For Toshiba, training is all about engagement through interaction. We work with field marketing expert Gekko to ensure our retail field team are fully immersed in the brand through interactive training.

The level of data management with our training allows us to offer more information and knowledge because we are able to have a greater understanding of the hundreds of stores nationwide that carry Toshiba products and promotions.

Data collection, for example, enables us to monitor activity on a highly detailed level, which, in turn, positively affects the information we pass onto store staff. The training element evolves constantly.

We use our own Toshiba tablets to equip staff using information in real time to bring them up to speed on the latest developments and promotions. As more information becomes available, staff are able to learn how to respond to shopping trends and promotions immediately.

It’s essential that store staff are fully up to date with key features and the latest product developments. If staff can project Toshiba’s brand message seamlessly in their approach it will form an intuitive reputation among consumers to drive sales and loyalty.

Read more at: http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/trends/training-get-in-the-groove-and-go-with-the-data-flow/4007797.article

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Customer service SOS: How will John Lewis save the NHS?

Gekko Field Marketing
Faced with growing criticism of patient care and demand for better ‘customer’ experience, the NHS has turned to retailer John Lewis to help improve service in a move that has been both welcomed and scoffed at. As reported by the BBC, retail staff at the store made famous for its excellent customer service will be re-educating NHS doctors in Devon in a new bedside manner that focuses on the needs of the patients.

Daniel Todaro, MD at marketing agency Gekko, highlighted a key difference between the two: “The very fact that John Lewis is a retailer and the NHS is a service should be an immediate red flag,” he says. “If you shop in John Lewis, you are there by choice whereas if you’re in A&E it’s likely that you really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter; it’s a question of need.

“This is the crux of the issue; how do you translate the needs of a John Lewis shopper to that of a patient? It is true that John Lewis offer a best in class, successful retail experience with the human element at its core, but a health care provider and a retailer have zero points of synergy.”

“As good as the John Lewis model is, it applies to retail and not to an under-resourced not-for-profit public organisation.”

The proof of this unique collaboration between the public sector and retail’s golden child will essentially be in the eating – whilst it poses strong benefits in theory, only by putting the proposals into practice will the NHS understand if there are lessons to be learned from John Lewis.

Read the full article at: http://www.mycustomer.com/feature/experience/can-john-lewis-help-nhs-deliver-superior-customer-service/165386

Gekko’s DMA triumph

Gekko Field Marketing

Field Marketing agency Gekko have added additional silverware to the trophy cabinet with a Silver prize at the 2012 DMA Awards.

The awards, hosted at London’s Old Billingsgate by Stephen Mangan, celebrated all that was good in the realms of Direct Marketing. The Silver Award came in the Best use of experiential  category and recognised the highly effective Summer of Sport road-show campaign that Gekko designed and delivered on behalf of Freeview. It was remarked that the campaign, which supported Freeview’s ATL marketing throughout the summer of 2012 and the London Olympics, was “a genuinely intriguing experience enabling Freeview to engage consumers for a sustained period and communicate brand messages. The campaign raised both brand awareness and recognition: Freeview rose to 14th in the Brand Index”.

Wayne Hemingway, chair of the DMA Awards judging panel, said: “Once again the winners at this year’s DMA Awards show how strategic thinking and creativity can achieve real social change. It’s not just about selling products to consumers. Good – great – direct marketing makes a real difference to the lives of mothers, holidaymakers, parents, commuters, homebuyers, music lovers… and even scientists!”

For additional details about Gekko’s award winning entry please visit: http://www.dmaawards.org.uk/2012-silver-best-use-of-experiential

No substitute for on-the-ground insight

Leading FM agency Gekko features in an article in Marketing magazine about the use of technology in the world of field marketing.

Marketers can spend all day in front of a screen checking on market research results and sales figures, but there’s nothing like getting out of the office and into stores to truly understand the way consumers shop. As novelist John le Carre warned: ‘A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.’

Tim Bedward from Epson, one of Gekko’s top clients, mentions that when it comes to selling high-ticket priced items face to face contact is still vital and that staff training in particular can really boost sales. Brands need to engage with store sales staff to make sure they understand the strong points of a product so they are enthused enough to promote it effectively to consumers. The staff – especially Christmas temps – need to be engaged just as much as the consumers.

‘Delivering practical training through iPads and interactive sessions can make a difference in how quickly your team is able to understand and immerse themselves in your company values and in the way they go forward and interact with customers,’ he says. ‘Shop floor staff are your key brand ambassadors for every consumer that enters the store. By involving an appropriate use of technology to enhance the training experience, it ensures you have an army of enthusiastic, empowered staff who build relationships with shoppers. Technology plays an invaluable role in maximising effectiveness and fostering positivity and a sense of team.’

The use of technology in training staff is helping real-world retailers fight back against the threat from online sales. This is the view of Daniel Todaro, managing director of field marketing agency Gekko, which specialises in consumer electronics. The agency worked with Epson to create a training plan for retail staff that was delivered by the field team via iPads.

This technology allows what Todaro calls a ‘one-device technology solution’ that comprises training, product presentation and demonstration materials, as well as photo capture and point-of-sale ordering. ‘Technology does not make the experience, it enhances it,’ he says. ‘Consumers (use) channels such as mobile to research, but expertly trained staff offer a level of guidance and reassurance that can give consumers confidence in their purchases that can’t be found online. People need to be at the centre of the field-marketing experience.’

Full article at:  http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/news/login/1150252/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH

Make call centre agents a part of the team

Gekko Field Marketing

Motivation is an issue that rarely discriminates. No matter what size or sector, all companies face constant challenges when it comes to keeping motivation and morale high. However, looking at motivation alone often results in mere stopgaps, only serving to give a temporary boost – especially when looking specifically at call centres where staff turnover may be higher than the average.
Fostering an overarching positive culture and promoting a sense of brand loyalty should be the aim, and the first steps towards achieving this is by making your employees feel like they’re part of a real team, regardless of whether they are from an external agency or on a permanent contract. Here are some tips on how to achieve just that:

1. Give your call centre agents ownership

Call centre employees often feel the most de-motivated when they feel they aren’t worthwhile to the business. By finding ways to create a sense of ownership within the team and involving employees in certain decision-making processes, they will become more invested in the brand and its core values.

2. Set achievable group targets that necessitates teamwork

A call centre environment is often highly sales and target based, with individuals competing against each other. Whilst competition can be healthy, it can be inefficient. Set manageable, tiered targets that require employees to collaborate, rather than compete.

3. Share goals and targets

A rigid hierarchy can mean call centre employees feel inferior to more senior members of staff. By sharing certain business information with staff, employees can better understand decision-making, whilst also understanding the value of their own role. Transparency is the key to building trust, and if employees cannot trust each other, then they can feel isolated and de-motivated.

4. Promote belief in brand values

It’s important that staff not just understand the brand values, but believe in them so that these values translate credibly when interacting with customers. This not only makes the process easier, but is surprisingly motivational too – assisting the employee and fostering a sense of pride in their work.

5. Listen to your call centre agents

Every employee is important, and should be made to feel so, including agency or temp staff. Those at the top can often find themselves far removed from the day-to-day running of a company, and when this disconnect happens, morale can drop. By making time to listen, it breaks down barriers and fosters a greater sense of being part of a team.

6. Celebrate success

At an economic time where lows are sometimes unavoidable, it’s even more important to celebrate success. Call centre employers need to demonstrate that hard work leads to reward, but on a team level as well as an individual. After a successful quarter, it’s important to leave a positive feeling amongst a team, rather than a hollow one.

Daniel Todaro

MD Gekko

Full article available:

http://www.callcentre.co.uk/page.cfm/action=library/libEntryID=4486/libID=1/

The key to a brand experience of Olympic proportions

Gekko Field Marketing

For many Olympic sponsors, the quality of their staff on the ground will be all important once London 2012 begins, writes Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko.

For marketers across the country, this is the week that it finally feels like the Olympics is truly upon us, with Locog’s marketing blackout coming into full force.

As well as the detailed social media guidelines for athletes, there are now the 250-plus, intimidatingly-titled ‘brand enforcers’ taking to the streets to ensure that no unofficial advertising activity takes place within the exclusion zone, which stretches up to 1km outside the Olympic park.

Certainly for marketers, it’s an unprecedented crackdown on ambush marketing. For many sponsors who have paid enormous sums to feature, they have in the past found themselves infuriated as their gold medal moment is ruined by a savvy competitor skirting the rules (Michael Jordan intentionally covering up his Reebok logo in 1992 being a memorable example).

This edition, it is unlikely even Paddy Power would be so bold as to dare intrude.

While it has been made clear that the burden of proof falls squarely upon the shoulders of the athletes, it’s time for plan B for many brands who have invested so much of their 2012 spend in associating themselves with Olympians.

With a cooling-off period also in effect after any medal win, as well as advertising within the village limited, it seems that there’s only one real opportunity left for the select few brands lucky enough to be inside the Olympic Park to provide a true brand experience and create lasting emotional connections – the staff on the ground.

The list is exclusive, but brands such as McDonald’s, Holiday Inn and Acer will all feature staff of some kind within the Olympic village, which officially opened to athletes this week.

We’ve heard how McDonald’s monopoly on Olympic food extends even as far as chips, but how can McDonald’s make this opportunity of a lifetime count?

Quite simply, it’s vital for these brands to have an army of brand-ambassadors in their ranks, ready to give a flawless experience of the brand.

As interaction at the point-of-sale becomes even more diminished (see contactless payment), I think the Olympics will be another marker that shows the growing importance of what’s traditionally labelled as the ‘sales assistant’.

In order to fully exploit this expensive, but undeniably lucrative opportunity, it begins with recruitment (a hurdle that G4S hasn’t managed to successfully navigate).

Staff need to be better educated, more enthusiastic and more charismatic than ever before – not expendable drones drafted in as and when necessary.

To approach in such a fashion wouldn’t quite be suicidal, but certainly incredibly foolhardy.

McDonald’s, for example, is doing lots to change perceptions of its employment opportunities, and, especially considering the inevitable criticisms it’ll come under as a sponsor, it will need to ensure staff are a positive aspect, not a liability.

Its drafting of Wayne Hemmingway to design new eco-friendly, Mad-men inspired uniforms, indicates it knows where its money will be made and lost.

At Gekko, we’re working with Acer in a slightly different capacity, but just as important. As the official hardware provider for the London Games, Acer will be responsible for the entire IT infrastructure across the village – including branded lounges for use by athletes and technicians on-site to provide support where necessary.

This isn’t just about the brand experience, or preventing things from going wrong – these staff will have to ensure they embody the Olympic spirit, and promote the Acer brand in line with its Worldwide Partner Status and the Olympic Spirit; the responsibility that comes with biggest sporting event in the world.

It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s really about being the greatest ambassador for the brand and truly recognising the world stage you are performing on.

The athletes may be competing for gold, but so are the brands too and with the world watching, experiencing and relating to your product, whether it be visitor or athlete it’s all part of your Olympic journey and our job as marketers is to make it complete.

So it is quite the daunting task, but these brands can get a real head start on what’s looking to be the evolution of the retail industry as we know it. Point of sale, promotion, direct, etc, will all have roles to play, but it is the experience that is the future.

The term brand experience is debated daily, but brands need to really start thinking seriously about just who will be delivering that experience, within the Olympics and beyond.

Full article available:

http://www.brandrepublic.com/opinion/1142222/think-br-key-brand-experience-olympic-proportions

Brand Manager of the Week: Mark Nicholson

Gekko Field Marketing

Mark Nicholson – Trade marketing manager, Digital UK

Q&A:

Describe yourself in three words.

Friendly, honest, fair.

How would you define marketing?

Giving people the chance to benefit from your product.

What would you be if you weren’t a brand manager?

Unemployed.

What advice would you give someone starting their marketing career today?

Take your chances.

What attracted you to your current job?

Working on a campaign that would affect every person in the UK.

When was your finest hour?

Successfully delivering training for the digital switchover to every TV retailer in the UK (although this took longer than an hour, and I needed my friends at Gekko to do so).

What’s your greatest ambition?

To keep smiling.

If you were a brand, what would you be and why?

Post-it Notes. Clever, practical and you can stick me almost anywhere – I’ll do a good job.

What is your all-time favourite slogan?

‘Beanz meanz Heinz.’

What marketing trend is dominating your job at the moment?

Retail headcount reductions leading to time-pressure in store.

What are your hobbies?

Hockey, tennis and amateur dramatics.

If you weren’t you, who would you be?

Clive Anderson.

What makes you angry?

Email conversations instead of proper ones.

What is your favourite pub?

My house; the company’s good and the refreshments are always to my taste.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

Liverpool beating Manchester United to win the Premier League (with me at the match); safe and secure future for my family; and more wishes.

What have been your best and worst freebies?

The best was when we flew customers to Euro 2004. The worst? An unsolicited, branded mouse mat.

What headline would you most like to read in Marketing?

‘Jargon banned from marketing meetings’.

Innovation ensures success

Gekko Field Marketing

Brands seeking to connect with consumers in person need to take a creative, integrated approach.  Marketing Magazine features Gekko’s work with Freeview

 

Brand Q&A: James Chambers, Freeview

What did you do?
To refresh the Freeview brand and promote the benefits of HD, we ran a campaign in key shopping destinations in the run-up to Christmas. Our stand attracted visitors via games and a photo booth, where they could receive a photo to keep. To drive data capture, we ran a prize draw for a 3D Blu-ray home cinema system donated by Panasonic. There were also sales demonstrators in nearby retailers.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered and how did you overcome it?
To cut through and distract people on a mission to shop. We used creative, fun ways to distract them and alleviate the Christmas-shopping stress.

Did digital play a part?
We used Facebook and Twitter to talk about the campaign.

Was there anything about your agency’s approach that contributed to the campaign’s success?
Its efficiency and imagination. The team just gets on with it, with minimum fuss.

Were you satisfied that it met your objectives?
Absolutely. We’re not about the hard sell, but creating empathy and understanding of the brand. The activity achieved this in spades. We gained very positive feedback from having a “face” to the brand, where people could ask questions and gain straight answers.

What would you improve about this campaign if you did it again?
Optimise the games. The photo booth was less popular than the hands-on games that younger kids could get involved with. We will be touring the country again soon with a new execution.

 

Agency Q&A: Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko

What do you think was particularly innovative about the campaign?
The activities on the stand were simple, but effective. Anyone could have a go. This led to a higher rate of interaction and more opportunities to communicate key messages. Across three weekends, we talked to almost 60,000 consumers. More than 10,500, in all age groups, took part in the games and more than 17,400 branded balloons and sweets were distributed.

What advice would you have for other brands who might want to do a campaign like this?
The in-store sales demonstrators worked well. We liaised with store managers, supporting the team on the stand and selling Freeview products to interested shoppers.

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