Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Retail Doctoring

This morning found me up and about at what felt like the middle of the night but was actually 5.30am, getting ready for a business breakfast in North Sydney.

When day actually did break and I could see sufficiently to ensure I hadn't substituted eyeliner for lipstick and didn't have my dress tucked into the back of my pantyhose, I choofed off to the Harbour View Hotel to listen to some fabulous speakers on the topic of Retail Trends.

First up was Dr Sean Sands from the Australian Centre for Retail Studies, talking about the key trends that will impact the retail industry over the next ten years. You can find out more here.

The key point seemed to boil down to that ol' chestnut - LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. Amazingly, some major retailers still don't do that.

This frustrates me no end. I often walk into stores where the manager has seen a need to occupy children so that she can keep her customers who shop with kids in the store longer. She has brought in the box of broken Lego and a few dog-eared books from home.

Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a gorgeous refit when the thing that's really getting the customers in and keeping them there spending, is a box of one-armed Barbies and one-legged Buzz Lightyears?

Really, is that how head office wants to project their brand? Apparently so, judging by the number of frustrated sales staff and store managers who say that head office refuses to consider a safe, branded, space-effective play solution.

Brian Walker, the Retail Doctor, elaborated on this point by highlighting the disconnect between head office and the coal face of the retail business. Brian's a bit of a guru in the retail space, teaching retailers how to implement retail strategies that work. You can learn more about him here.

Finally we heard from Roy Tavenor from Red Design Group. He has just come back from exotic Istanbul where retailers are ripping it up with fantastic store design and a 'green' approach to retailing. Roy talked about the growth of private brands (thanks for the Aldi wine tip!) and the downsizing of the mega-store, as well as the importance of going as 'green' as possible to reduce our carbon footprint.

All up, an interesting morning and I strongly recommend, if you are a retailer, stopping by the speaker's websites and asking them for their presentation notes.

Then, because there is not a hotel on this planet that can produce a decent coffee or tea from a pot that's been on a warmer for 2 hours, I topped off my virtuous educational morning with a skim chai latte from Greenwood in the recently-awol sunshine. Luvverly!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Play Tables

That ol' saying "necessity breeds invention" has certainly been true for me this week.

I got a big order for the Ocean Maze Play Table earlier in the week from one of my corporate clients, followed a day later by an order for another 3 from another client.

But in typical Sod's Law fashion, my supplier informed me they are out of stock until mid to end of August.

After uttering a few things under my breath (like 'darn' and 'heck') I thought, rather than make my client wait, I would look for some other comparable products and found these:

Introducing the Space Maze Puzzle Table (top) and the Wire Beads Table.

Now, even though the Wire Beads Table is rather unimaginatively named (compared to the dazzling Space table) don't let the plain moniker fool you. It's a clever and funky little design. I mean, check out the multi-coloured legs for a start! Designed to attract children straight to it, and get them away from your lovely clean store displays.

Cute huh?

Now I just hope my clients think so too because (a) they're the same price as the ones I can't get and (b) they are waiting patiently in a warehouse not 5km from where I am sitting congratulating myself.

And if anyone else likes them, I'll get them on the website soon. Or if you're the type who needs instant gratification, you can contact me now and I'll give you my undivided attention!

You can find Child Friendly Solutions Play Panels, Play Tables and other play equipment at www.childfriendly.com.au

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Goodbye May, Hello June

Oooh, it's getting chilly here in Sydney. We're back into our boot-shod, scarf-wrapped winter clothes and have dusted off the slow cooker!

May was a wonderful month for Child Friendly Solutions with lots of fabulous new clients coming on board including:
  • K-Mart

  • Dept of Community Services - Muswellbrook

  • Dept of Immigration & Citizenship

  • Erina Fair Medical Care

  • Great Southern GP Network

  • Icon Medical

  • Ingle Farm Shopping Centre

  • Redland Bay Early Education Centre

  • White Retail Group

  • Westfield Warrawong
And welcoming back some 'old' clients stocking up on 'new' child friendly products:
  • Cockburn Gateway Shopping City

  • Westfield Belconnen

  • Westfield Hornsby

  • GPT Casuarina Square

  • Royal Children's Hospital Brisbane

It's funny, but we always thought with this business that we would be constantly seeking out new clients because our play equipment is the sort of thing clients would only buy as a 'one-off'.

Yet, we find that many clients come back to us for new products or because they've expanded and need new Play Panels.

And now that we've been in business for 10 years, we're delighted to find that when old Play Panels wear out from so much child-love, our clients return to us for new ones, so delighted have they been with the durability of the product over a long period of commercial use.

We were always a tiny bit scared that we'd run out of customers one day, but I'm proud as punch to see our existing clients returning.

You can find Child Friendly Solutions Play Panels and other play equipment at www.childfriendly.com.au