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Retail gets its independence back

This month, retail industry professionals and consumers alike are celebrating ‘Independent Retailer’s Month’ which, now in its second year, aims to raise awareness of the local family run shop in town centres across the country.

Set up by the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) Michael Weedon, Deputy CEO and Communications Director, believes it is necessary to raise recognition of how the money it invests back into the community is much vaster than in chains on the high street.

He told Retail Gazette: “The wealth they generate stays in their localities far more than any national multiple.

“It has been stated that for every pound spent in a multiple only 5p stays in the locality, whereas with an independent the figure is more like 70p.”

It is often difficult for smaller, less commercial shops in less populated towns of the UK to compete with household name stores as these retailers typically have less stock and rely on more traditional methods of transaction and service.

A preferred method by larger retailers is a Point of Sale (POS) system to run and promote business through channels such as SMS marketing and planning, though this is expensive technology and as such not a valid option for independents.

Computer driven technology can cost up to thousands of pounds, meaning a great number of local community shops prefer to drive down overheads by using the traditional cash register and calculator.

Casio has come up with a way to try and solve the problem for independents by creating Casio’s new VX-100 Android platform EPoS and its Cloud based Casio Business Portal.

A package which can be downloaded and trialled before any commitment to buy, Casio claims that the technology is available at a fraction of the price of other solutions, lifting the financial burden on SME’s.

Guy Boxall, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Caso, explained the concept to Retail Gazette, commenting: “For the smaller family owned stores, Casio are going on board with the android platform which connects with this new v100.

“It is a very intelligent bit of kit which connects to the new Casio portal which launches this month, and it gives the small independent retailers the chance to go online and download free trial packages made by third parties before trying them out free of charge to see if it fits their model.

“Casio takes the biggest solution that has been used by larger stores, then packages it and makes it available to the small independent retailers, selling it at a much lower cost.”

Liz Pilgrim, Managing Director of Ealing-based luxury baby gift boutique Baby e, is a strong advocate of POS systems and by her own admission believes it saved her business during the London riots last year.

Pilgrim would recommend other small retailers to install a reliable POS system as it can be a boost to a flagging business and gives it a competitive edge, adding: “I think independents really need to stay ahead of the times.”

Raising a shop’s profile through these channels can help to ease suffering from a double whammy of poor weather and a struggling economy, as Pilgrim claimed that these variables have actually more adversely affected the shop than the aftermath of the riots.

“We are worse off than we were for two main reasons: the economy and the weather.

“The weather has such a huge affect on the sales except for anything that is waterproof and the whole country has gone through a massive hit on sales that could never have been foreseen.

“The market is not great for any retailer out there.”

While Pilgrim is relying on tech savvy shoppers to boost sales, there are many who prefer a one-to-one personalised experience traditionally found within independent stores.

Source: Caroline Barnes, Retail Gazette

18 July 2012
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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.

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