Our latest Behind the Counter post features the UK retailer, The Edit, who sell stylish easy-to-wear womenswear, completed with on-trend accessories and fashionable and friendly styling advice in-store.
Their retail operation has expanded to four stores since launching only two years ago − and we found out the secret to their retail success. Award-winning store design, data-backed buying decisions, and a superb customer experience, have made this fashion retailer hugely successful and loved by customers.
The Edit’s co-founder, Penny Rawson, took the time to share her experience and answer some of our questions. Take a look and see what she had to say.
How did The Edit come to life?
I decided to open the first shop in a little village, quite close to where I live. I felt there was a gap for fashion that made you feel good every day for my range of people, affluent mums that have grown out of the high-street shops like Topshop and River Island, but who aren’t quite ready for Marks and Spencers and Debenhams.
I also wanted to make the pricing really accessible because I love boutiques, but often find the prices stop me from buying everyday clothes. There are beautiful things that I’d wear for a special occasion, but not many pieces for just doing things, like the school run.
We have grown quite quickly, we just hit two years in May 2018 and we now have four stores. It was really easy to just replicate new stores because of the setup with Vend.
How do you keep customers coming back for more? Do you do anything in-store to create a special customer experience?
Firstly, by creating a really beautiful and welcoming store experience. We have massive fitting rooms with loads of space, you can take your kids in if you want, there’s room for people to sit and give their opinion. It’s a really comfortable shopping environment. I think that’s why we won the Drapers Best Store Design Award in 2018.
Secondly, it’s the team we have. We don’t do an awful lot of really structured training, what we do is hire people that are really experienced. We tend to take on people with retail experience, or have done something like managed a cosmetics counter for a brand.
Our team are really comfortable with software and with doing basic figures. They’re also naturally sales-driven people and do it in a very authentic way. They’re building relationships with customers so that the customers don’t feel like they’re being sold to.
What are the biggest challenges you think independent retailers are facing right now?
It’s a really challenging time for retail. You’ve got to make sure you’re absolutely on top of your game.
In the UK, the biggest challenge this year has been the impact of the weather. We had a lot of snow at the beginning of the year so people weren’t buying what they would normally buy. They weren’t buying their spring wardrobes because they were still wearing wooly hats.
What really helps is doing things with marketing and the website, like emailing customers and social media. People will come in every day saying “I’ve seen this on your Instagram, have you go it?”.
I would say another one of the biggest challenges for independent retailers is business information. I still see boutiques out there handwriting receipts — they don’t have the right information they need, like information on stock. When it’s challenging, you need to make sure you’ve got the right stock and only the right stock.
What can independent retailers do to win at retail?
Small retailers can win by being really dynamic, buying in season and reacting to trends. If you’ve pre-bought the majority of your stock, you’re not going to be able to back your best-sellers.
Without having information about my best-sellers on Vend, I wouldn’t necessarily have the confidence to go buy it in that volume. It’s about being sure, being dynamic, and constantly searching for new stock that customers shop for. That’s what we need to be doing as fashion buyers and independent retailers — having the same interests and reacting to moments the same way our customers do.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in retail?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you don’t necessarily have to do everything deliberately when you start out, just do the best you can. Have a vision in mind of what you want your business to look like and let that guide the small decisions.
For example, I might see a product I love, but if it doesn’t fit into the vision for my store then I won’t buy it.
How does accessing Vend remotely help you run your retail business?
It’s so key to be able to access it remotely. It lets us do things like see that every store is open in the morning and enables communication with our team. When I’m out buying I just use my phone to check product information. If I’m buying a best-seller, I can pull up how many sold last month, how much stock I have now, see different variants, and know what I need to buy. Then I can make the right decisions.
Vend really does help me make my buying decisions. It’s really malleable and nice that you can just access the information in a really casual way, it’s easy to find out what you want to know at any point of time.
How do you do stock takes in your store? Do you use Scanner by Vend?
Yes, we do use Scanner by Vend. We usually just hop on the mobile phone and that performs really well, we find it relatively easy to use. We also use it help transfer stock in between the stores. Sometimes we move slow-sellers or best-sellers from one store to another or vice versa, and we use the Scanner app to do that.
About Lucia Afanasy
Lucia joined Vend in New Zealand in 2017 before flying across the world to join the London team. She works on all things marketing across the UK, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Her passions and work experience include retail, production, and social media. When she’s not in the office, Lucia loves exploring London, planning trips, and trying to keep her plants alive.