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The secrets that retailers rarely reveal

Retail is a funny old game. It’s cloaked in mystery and in some spheres (thinking interiors and fashion particularly!) it’s also quite a snooty old biz. I’m talking from experience here, and it doesn’t help for people who are just starting out. That’s why I’m revealing some secrets that most of the big fish don’t even want you to know.

Made in…?

Having a product with a label saying made in Britain (or France Italy, Germany etc) is perceived as being superior to a “made in China”. However, what a lot of brands won’t tell you is that if something is mainly in the Far East and then either finished, or even just packed(!) in the retailer’s country of origin, It is allowed to have the label made in blah blah. So even if just the final button or zip is added in Britain, it can have a made in Britain slapped on it. Crazy right?

What irritates the hell out of me is the perception that anything labelled made in China is going to be lower quality. Often times, and I’m talking from experience here, the factories will have a much higher standard of production and technology. There are bad factories of course (that blatantly disregard human rights and environmental regulations). The thing any responsible brand should visit the places where you’re manufacturing and check that they adhere to ethical and quality standards. I’ve personally visited every factory we work with, and scoured the globe to find a team that can hand paint silk petals, create handthrown ceramic vases etc. My point having a tag or sticker that is European does not guarantee higher quality, or better working conditions. Oh and get this Armani, Burberry, Marc Jacobs and Prada et al all believe manufacturing in the Far East is best in terms of quality not just cost.


Clearance and cut-price

Clearance sections always look horrendous right? A massive, unstyled, slapdash, offputting mess. Well this is deliberate. They’re the mess they are for the simple reason that retailers are trying to deter you from actually shopping there – especially as full priced merchandise is only a few feet away. It’s meant to look undesirable.

The same trick applies to packaging too. Next time you’re in a supermarket look at the basics range compared to “Tesco’s Finest” or “Sainsbury’s Luxury” or whatever they’re called. The basics always looks terrible, but again it’s deliberate. The product is often basically identical, but supermarkets don’t want you to pick up the basics range yogurt or tinned tomatoes! They’d rather you plumped for the pricier, nicer packaged option. Interesting no?


Clever product placement

It’s not just what you have in store, it’s also where you position it. Stats show that most people turn right when entering a store. Apparently this is because the majority of us are right handed, so have a tendency to veer right! Knowing this, a lot of stores tempt us in with their newest items, trend walls and displays to the right of the entrance.

The smaller impulse buys are purposely displayed near the register. These are cheaper things that people are more likely to pick up on a whim – in retail jargon they’re called add-ons. Think sunglasses, little t-light holders, scented candles that sort of stuff. They’re trying to tempt you to spend just that little bit extra while you’re standing in the queue waiting to pay.


I find it incredibly interesting to drill into all of this, like did you know that 14% of sales come from window displays? All the time the more you learn the better about the psychology and inner workings of retail, the better you be at improving your business. So l hope that lifting the lid on some of these secrets and tricks will help you too. Let’s grow, improve and build a biz that will attract and engage shoppers the world over!

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