Retail: Insight by Chalk + Ward

Retail: Insight by Chalk + Ward

Written By Lisa Prescott, Director, Chalk + Ward


Consumer behaviour is harder to predict than ever before placing immense pressure on retailers to create outstanding customer experiences.  Having the infrastructure to offer a seamless omni-channel experience, delivering a CRM system that can second guess what customers want, presenting themselves in the most relevant way socially with a nanosecond response rate, whilst creating immersive visual merchandising are just a few of the challenges retailers face to exist.  Put simply, retail is hard!

Too many retailers are reaching for a CVA to avoid collapse, suffice to say only those who can offer something unique are likely to survive. However, this point of difference needn’t be a massive investment in the next life changing tech app, simply an evaluation of the existing proposition.




Retailers with large portfolios invariably have impressive stores with quality visual merchandising. However, the product on display can sometimes be formulaic. What if a percentage of space was more relevant to the store’s community? For example, introducing a new category, or supporting local producers by selling their products. With some fine tuning the store becomes that bit more relevant.

And it can’t stop at selling product, retailers need to interact and engage with local audiences, turning physical space which ‘sells stuff’ into a store which is part of its community.

For example, a pet shop utilises their physical space outside of opening hours to puppy clubs. Staff engage with new ‘pet parents’ emotionally, whilst showcasing expertise in dog ownership. The shop becomes more than a shop, instead a destination where customers go for advice on their new pup. The customer feels confident in the advice given, their custom appreciated and in return, they increase their basket spend and come back again.


It’s simple but effective, and it doesn’t need to cost the earth. It’s still retailing but done in a different way and is something even the most advanced CRM system couldn’t deliver.



At Chalk + Ward, we’ve developed an approach which evaluates each store on its own individual merit, it’s an extensive audit which allows us to work with our retail clients to make informed, commercial decisions on whether they’re putting the right product on the shelves for each individual store catchment.  Next look at the brand’s marketing & communications and how it is amplified within the store locality. Our approach works in conjunction with the core values of the business, to create a more unique, considered retail experience.

Insolvency expert, David Kirk, discusses how to financially structure a retail business:

“There are three main structures to choose from when setting-up a retail business. As a sole trader, a partnership or a limited company.

“A limited company structure enables you to create subsidiaries, which future-proofs your business assets. For example, if you had a chain of retail shops and some were owned freeholds and others leased, you could separate them into multiple companies. This allows more flexibility should one store cease to be financially viable, without impacting the wider business.

“A further advantage to a limited company is that the liability you have as owner/director to creditors is limited to the assets of the company, rather than personal.

The key point to remember when setting up a new business is to seek good advice and planning to avoid any pitfalls that may arise in future.”

Lisa is a Board Director at Chalk + Ward with over 15 years’ experience in strategic retail marketing


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