All posts by Holly Haggas

Guess Who! Enter to win!

Like those embarrassing relatives at birthdays and weddings, we’ve been searching through the Valley archive uncovering some of our colleagues’ best (and worst!) moments as captured on camera.

We’ve published one of our choice finds below. If you can guess who either one of these fine fellows is, you could win yourself a bottle of wine! Take a look and then send your guesses to


IFA Trade Show 2016

IFA Logo

On the 5th and 6th of September, we will be visiting the IFA Trade Show in Berlin. IFA is the worlds leading consumer electronics and home appliances trade show and hosts some of the biggest names in the white goods and brown goods sectors, such as LG, Panasonic and Fitbit.

The show expects to see around 1,600 exhibitors, 245,000 visitors and see more than 40 companies presenting their latest smart home products and services over the 6 days.


It promises to be a fantastic event.

Valley will be showing customers old and new some of the latest in store technologies available which help brands deliver brilliant customer experiences.

If you are planning a retail project for 2017 and are attending IFA we would love to meet up with you to dazzle you with what’s new.

Please get in touch with us here at Valley

Tel: +44 1535 272861

We look forward to seeing you.

James & Mark

Budding Businesses

Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the number of floral window displays globally. However we have seen a particular rise this year.

In April, we saw Haagen Dazs exclusively team up with Liberty London to sell their ‘little gardens range’. On sale to the public were two brand new ice cream flavours. Their shop window, created by Rebecca Lousie Law, featured 10,000 fresh flowers to create a breathtaking display their customers would never forget.

budding business haagen
Haagen Dazs
In May there was the annual Chelsea in Bloom, which this year was themed ‘Carnival’, inspired by the Rio 2016 Olympic games. Here we saw the likes of Links, Hackett and Kiki McDonough capturing the fun and colour of the carnival, with their own little twists.  Cosmetics A La Carte chose their colourful palate range based on the colours of their make up inside the store, which gave customers an insight into what they could look forward to inside.

budding business 5
Kiki McDonough
budding business 6
Links of London
budding business 8
Cosmetics A La Carte
budding businesses 2
The botanical theme was also apparent across the pond in the states at the flagship store of Saks on 5th Avenue in New York. The windows were filled with brands such as Dior, Givenchy and Chanel’s own flower walls to support their theme of ‘The Secret Garden’ this spring.

budding business 9

budding businesses 3

One exhibit we cannot forget about is the annual Macy’s flower show in spring. Their theme this year was “America the Beautiful”, which showcased a variety of landscapes throughout America, using flowers native to their country. Throughout the 5 stores, which the shows are exhibited in, around 5,000,000 flowers are used to attract customers to the stores.

budding business macy 2
Macy’s Flower Show 2016

budding business macy
Macy’s flower Show 2016

Brexit and the retail sector

In the months leading up to the referendum there was much speculation as to what would happen if we left the European Union. This has meant that once again the retail sector has been thrown into a period of uncertainty.

The British exit from the European Union has meant that in the coming months companies will have to start making choices about their strategic position in the retail sector. As this is a time of economic uncertainty it is crucial that brands recognise their customers and how Brexit will affect their spending.

This combined with the weather conditions that Britain has been experiencing over the past months has meant that people have been less inclined to purchase summer items.

When we voted to exit the European Union on the 23rd June, fashion retailers were tipped to be the worst hit from the declining pound. This is because most retailers’ purchase their goods from Asia and pay for them in dollars, which means that costs would inevitably increase. As well as this, the economic uncertainty that surrounded the referendum made people think twice about what they were purchasing, which meant that retailers saw a fall in sales.

However, the retail sector has shown signs of recovery over the past week with John Lewis and Waitrose sales increasing 3.1% on the previous year.

For online retailers such as ASOS and Boohoo, Brexit has seen increases in profit margins, as it is now cheaper for these businesses to export their products. Nick Beighton, Chief executive of ASOS said, “Around 55% of our customers are non-UK and so in the short term the exchange rate weakness will give happy consequences for our customers.”

Through this time of uncertainty, you no longer need to worry as Brexit has had the support of many great leaders. Whetherspoons’ Founder and Chairman Tim Martin said “The UK is in an immensely strong position” and other influential business associates such as Helen Gomm (Value retailer’s Director of Strategy and Planning), James Croxall (Tesco’s Marketing Strategy & Campaign Manager) and Ian Powell (PwC’s Chairman) are all in support of Brexit.

Why interactive works in retail

As thrilling as a shopping trip may be, brands need to give customers more of a bang for their buck to really capture their attention. Interactive retail experiences can help drive business and create entertainment, fun, and excitement for both shoppers and brands. Here are some great examples of interactive working in retail:

1. From giving customers a sensor’s vantage point to configuring cars in entirely new ways, Microsoft HoloLens is working to bring Volvo’s cutting edge car features to life in ways never before possible.

2. Take a look at this interactive concept table from Pizza Hut that totally changes the dine-in ordering experience by letting customers customize their orders through a touchscreen table and play games while they wait for their pizza to come out of the oven.

Shopping can be full of surprises – from the items found in store to the great, unexpected sales. The process can be a real pleasure, but when a store goes a step further to enhance the retail experience for the customer, the shopping trip can become even better.

3. The more your brand can stand out the better. People appreciate any retailer that can go outside the box and get them excited. Paul Smith, for example, really caught the eye of window shoppers. The London store brought its suits to life through an interactive holographic right in the window display.

4. Look at this fun video for a North Face Korea store. As shoppers are selecting coats in store, the floor underneath them begins to move, forcing them to climb a rock wall before falling inside…talk about shopping ‘til you drop!

Interactive retail solutions bring advantages to both the business and the shopper. Businesses can implement interactive store features to not only thrill their shoppers, but to get valuable insights into their buying habits and behaviors through collected data and analytics. Shoppers, on the other hand, get a one-of-a-kind shopping experience that’s fun, easy, and informative, giving them a reason to return.

Bad Retail Marketing

Whilst these, thankfully, tend to be less common than good examples of retail marketing, it is always useful (or amusing at least) to see when retailers get it really wrong!


As much as we’re all for using this erroneous labelling as an excuse for drinking more wine, I’m not sure everyone will agree!!



No thank you, I think I’ll stay right here… Not the best ad placement, even for a funeral service.



Maybe effective in China but I’m not sure these are entirely appropriate, as enticing as they are…



I might not have taken Maths at A Level but even I can work out that this is not exactly value for money!



Not sure I’d be climbing across the tracks to scan that QR code…



But how will we ever choose?!


And finally….


Our gold star award this week goes to Walmart who single handedly managed to insult around 35% of America with their labelling of “fat girl costumes”. I think the idea is to get your customers on side Walmart… not offend pre purchase!!!



The Changing face of the UK High Street

Internet usage has steadily increased over past years with 78% of the UK population having access to the Internet in 2013. This continued growth in ecommerce engagement activities highlights major challenges facing the UK high street, with around 25% of total UK sales being conducted online by 2020, driven by m-commerce. The Internet has become the second most important distribution channel (after high street retailing), and has established itself as a major source of customer information, boasting opportunity to enhance the overall shopping experience. The Internet (Web 2.0) has made the growth in direct contact between producers and consumers possible- essentially, making the traditional physical retailer redundant in some areas.

It has been reported that the high street is in abject decline across the UK with the consumer shopping behaviour moving towards a preference for ‘click and flick’ rather than brick. Essentially, bricks and mortar spaces will to be reduced to their most utilitarian functionality in order to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour. One key assumption of traditional retail marketing is that the consumer must inevitably visit the high street or store to make a purchase. The introduction of “virtual competitors” introduces a wider set of complexities and opportunities for retailers including readily available price comparisons, less barriers for international competitors and lower prices due to lower fixed costs for “pure play retailers”.

It is largely suggested that the key challenge for the physical high street relates to the extent to which consumer expectations have been raised by digital retailing, with; 24/7 availability, instant price comparison checks, endless supplies of known stock, personalised product suggestions and consumer to consumer conversations, becoming increasingly accessible online. Consumers are progressively worried about convenience and availability, and in recent decades have increasingly chosen to shop in out of town parks and malls- persuaded by value, convenience and choice not available on the high street. Ultimately, e-tailers have additional tools and resources in place to ensure a better shopping experience for the consumer.

The Experience Economy

The changing perception of retail is largely fuelled during the “Evaluation” and “Purchase” stages of the Consumer Decision Process, through the concept of the “experience economy”. Shoppers are now becoming visitors to retail spaces with the expectation that they will be enjoying an experience, rather than solely visiting with a purchase intention. In terms of the Consumer Decision Process, this contributes significant importance to “atmospherics” confirming classic work by Pine & Gilmore (1998) suggesting that in order to distinguish retailers from online stores, businesses must “orchestrate memorable purchase environments for their customers.” Essentially, the degree to which a company is able to deliver a desirable experience that meets or exceeds customer expectations, will largely determine the success of this business in the marketplace. Research by Deloitte further support this, arguing that it is the experiential elements of the physical high street and online shopping that distinguish one from the other.

The Digital Economy

Changing demographics on a local level as well as an aging population are factors that have contributed to the demise of the UK high street. KPMG conducted a study and found that “by 2030, the number of people aged 65 or older (known as the grey pound) is projected to reach 15.5 million, growing 43% from its level in 2012”. The group suggests that over the next ten years, two thirds of all retail spending growth will come from this older age group, and therefore predict that in order to attract more of the grey pound retailers must rethink all aspects of marketing communications including store design. Nevertheless, Nick Bubb (KPMG) claims “the boom in the take up of smartphone and tablet device technology (and the related explosion in the power of social networking) is a bigger influence on the pattern of retail spending than demographic change.”

The digital economy is described as the preeminent driver of economic growth and social change. Similarly, a digital society is defined as “a modern, progressive society that is formed as a result of the adoption and integration of information and communication technologies at home, work and education. As such, it is widely accepted within literature that growth of the digital economy will lead to extensive transformations to the economy as a whole- with the Boston Consulting Group discussing “four waves of change sweeping over consumer goods and retail”, as an example.

Waves of technology adoption also had an implicit affect on high street retailers- with the first wave of Internet retailers, or “pure play retailers” (including Amazon and Netflix) developing a new channel to communicate with their customers, challenging the established marketing channels of retail stores, catalogue sales and home shopping. The second wave of e-retailers was said to include those with traditional bricks and mortar stores, and highlighted the idea of channel conflict and sales cannibalization, with the Internet channel becoming a competitor for physical distribution channels.

Mobile in store experiences

A report by Econsultancy (2012) showed that 43% of UK shoppers use their smartphones while on the move to compare prices and read product reviews. This change in shopper habits is evidence that consumers always have access to the mobile internet, with an iModerate survey also finding that more than half of smartphone owners are using the internet in stores. Through Web 2.0 applications, consumers can access much more information than was possible ten years ago. Importantly, this information can be of a higher quality (through using RIA or mashups applications), more trustworthy (other users’ opinions from a virtual community), more easily processed (applications for price/product comparisons) and more easily edited than ever before.

Nevertheless, this is not necessarily a bad thing for retailers. In the past year, the use of iBeacon technology has been on the rise, with companies creating apps to bridge the communication gap and engage more with customers in store. Dyson MD, David Hollander explains to Retail Week that retailers can benefit from taking full advantage of the role physical stores play in shoppers’ buying decisions. He elaborates, noting “82% of our customers research online but an even bigger number do so in store. We need the in store experience, so it is appropriate to reward retailers that provide a service to shoppers than we benefit from”.

Manufacturing a social in store experience with purchases delivered direct to the consumer could be another way of combatting challenges facing the UK high street by building on the offering currently available online. The idea of a customised high street, be it through digital store fronts or the use of QR codes linked with social media, is considered a viable option in improving information and communication flows. In practice it is evident that businesses are progressively using collaborative methods (usually via social networking sites) to involve customers or networks within the production process.

Ultimately, the future of the high street means more choice, lower prices and better services- all factors likely to lead to the downsizing of physical space retailers unless they actively chase the modern consumer using technological developments. Consumers today have vastly different and sophisticated expectations of product, service and value and in such a rapidly changing environment, a combination of factors have meant that some retailers are left unable to react fast enough. It is evident that economic influencers and technological advances have collectively reshaped the retail landscape, and as a consequence retailers are increasingly focusing on the customer experience as a creation of value. Deloitte reports that in the new multichannel reality, the lines between virtual and physical space are becoming blurred and retailers are forced to question the role and function of stores. However, while they do not advocate the total redundancy of the role of the physical space, they do indicate that physical spaces are likely to shrink and experience a change in format and in order to avoid failure in the long run, retailers and marketers must be willing to adapt.

Retail Trend Predictions for 2016

Every year Vend ( create a white paper detailing their retail predictions for the year. This blog presents a brief overview of this year’s predicted trends.


  1. Retailers will give consumers more payment options.

The rise of mobile payments has put added pressure on retailers to allow and utilise to their benefit, payment methods such as Paypal, and NFC payment systems such as Apple pay, Samsung pay etc.

2. Mobile will play a bigger role in click-and-collect initiatives.

Basically mobile is gonna be big. But you already knew that.

3. Retailers will unify their online and offline data collection.

Using online AND offline data together means retailers can gain a more complete picture of the shopper journey… which ultimately means a better experience for shoppers.

4. Retailers will continue to remove friction from shopping.

Omnichannel convenience is coming and it’s travelling towards us full steam ahead. Companies such as Amazon have worked on streamlining their shopping experience, offering customers the chance to reorder with just one click.

5. Merchants will adopt in-store mobile devices.

In store tablets have been on the rise for a couple of years now, and Vend predict that this trend will only get stronger,  with retailers utilising the mobile devices to deal with long queues and allow customers to check out in a more convenient manner.

6.Old school loyalty programs are on their way out.

Mastercard conducted a study which found that customers prioritise value and convenience over more traditional promotions, also noting that simply implementing rewards will not be enough to remain competitive in coming months.

7. Retail pure-plays will disappear.

With omnichannel retailing on the rise, it is evident that pure plays are going to have to adapt in order to keep up. E-commerce stores will need to follow bricks and mortar stores in implementing cross channel designs to bridge different shopping channels i.e. through Pop Up Stores (See our Twitter for more details on innovative stores).

8. More retailers will opt for single-view and cloud-based solutions.

This is now viewed as being essential in order to develop a successful retailing strategy… mainly for any the reasons listed above which talk about omnichannels.

9. Retailers will invest in omnichannel fraud management.

This isn’t as scary as it sounds… Omnichannel retailing comes with a huge amount of complexities and the most pressing for retailers to deal with is fraud, with Forrester claiming that 65% of retailers believe they lack the tools to effectively manage omnichannel fraud.

10. Social will grow as part of the omnichannel mix.

Social media has played a huge part in the shopper journey in recent years and Vend predict that it will continue to do so, with retailers utilising initiatives such as the buy buttons on Facebook and Pinterest.

11. Stocking up on more merchandise won’t cut it anymore.

Remember the old idiom “less is more”? Well that is what Vend are suggesting retailers will learn to follow in coming months opting for smaller product ranges so as not to overwhelm the customer.

12. More retailers will look into the Internet of Things to enhance the shopping experience.

A study by McKinsey found that the uses of IoT in retail could have an economic impact of $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year in 2025. This takes mobile devices in store to a whole new level and is seriously innovative… Consider Dixon’s smart home as an example.


Are Influencers the Missing Piece of the Shopper Marketing Puzzle?

With digital and social media permeating society like never before, it is safe to say that we are never far from a click or swipe.  Much like other aspects of the business world, shopper marketing faces a dilemma of how to evolve with the pervasion of digital. These days, it’s safe to say there is no “offline” for most consumers. Part of this evolvement includes today’s consumers being less interested in advertisements telling them why they should buy a product and more interested in hearing why their peers are glad they did. Shopper marketing is at the forefront of this attitude shift.
Before shopper marketing was called shopper marketing, it was better known as “sales promotion”. Whilst coupons, now are labelled a more traditional promotion tactic, they are still effective, particularly with the growing value-conscious generations. A study by Forrester Research revealed that 34% of Millennials prefer digital coupons saved on their smartphones to printed coupons. This growing desire for paperless variations highlights that coupons should be accessible to shoppers in multiple places, including on a brand’s digital app, social channels and website, as is increasingly the case. Partnering with influencers to promote your coupon can serve as an incredibly effective content tool and motivate shoppers to make in-store purchases.
Shopper insights remain central and wholly integral to shopper marketing and understanding the shopper first and foremost. Thus, last year Deloitte highlighted that approximately $970 billion in sales were influenced by shoppers’ use of mobile devices before and during in-store shopping (representing over a quarter of total in-store sales). Shoppers are using their mobile devices for a multitude of uses including but not limited to- coupon searching, price checking, product information and reviews, asking for opinions from their peers and more.

Now, think about this… which is more likely to influence the purchase of a product while someone is searching on their phone- Some content and photos uploaded by the brand about the brand, or an entertaining story by a likeable, relatable shopper using the product in their everyday life? If you selected the first option, you’re missing a massive opportunity to let shoppers see the product through the eyes of another shopper. As people in every day life, we tend to  trust people like us; why should that be any different in a shopping situation?

To overcome traditional problems in communicating with their customers on a personal level, brands are beginning to take to the best place to communicate with shoppers in a quick and clear manner: social media. Brands have begun to partner with influential shoppers who communicate to consumers through blogs and social posts exactly where to find the products at retailers, complete with signalling photos, opinions and reviews.

If shopper marketing is traditionally defined as “bringing shoppers into the marketing plan and the marketing plan into the stores,” then the question that springs to mind is why would we not amplify its benefits through utilising the most influential shoppers available? Ultimately, social influencers can help your brand tell a story through an authentic, trusted and relatable voice. Very few other marketing activities can move shoppers from the point of brand awareness to the checkout. So the final thought is clear… Isn’t it time your brand started marketing to shoppers, through shoppers?


Retailers Turn to Shop Fronts for High Impact Ads

Despite digital marketing dominating the retail sphere, shop windows are once again showing their worth, acting as extremely valuable marketing assets.

Brands are increasingly effectively utilising windows and shop fronts to boost consumer engagement, filling the outdoor space with innovative outdoor ads. One of the main benefits of shopping in a physical store over shopping online is the entertainment value… and thus, when integrated into wider campaigns, these executions have the ability to transform shop fronts and create compelling and immersive shopping experiences.

Window displays are an increasingly important element of 360 campaigns, and when incorporated effectively with digital initiatives  can lead to huge sales uplifts as well as increased website traffic as a more immediate response. Windows offer marketers the opportunity to be creative and unique, particular when compared to more commercially driven digital campaigns. The space can be tailored to promote specific campaigns and support an immersive in-store experience, ultimately, aiding in cutting through the retail noise.


In April 2016, Topshop utilised it’s high traffic location on Oxford Street to promote the launch of widely anticipated Ivy Park activewear line. They covered the front of the store with a 20 metre banner featuring Ivy Park co-creator Beyonce wearing items from the range. The ad was mirrored in the windows themselves which also featured a screen showing the campaign video on repeat. The campaign maximised visibility and capitalised on sharing content, inviting dancers to perform at the collection unveil.



Also in April and at it’s Oxford Street location, H&M celebrated World Recycle Week by projecting a green coral reef on the face of it’s flagship store. Consumer engagement was peaked by linking the light display to an interactive floor inside the store itself, enabling shoppers to change the colour of the lights outside by walking across the tiles.


HM-WRW-0054Harvey Nichols

Unveiled on April 1st, Harvey Nichols showcased a revamp of it’s menswear floor, using all 11 of it’s ground floor windows to highlight the makeover to passers by. Located in Knightsbridge, the department store sees high footfall and as such, the ‘Destination Menswear’ window display campaign was designed to feature men within various home settings. In order to incorporate the window displays into a 360 campaign, the hashtag #DestinationMenswear was  featured encouraging shoppers to share images online.


House of Fraser

Some window campaigns integrate digital more than others, with House of Fraser leading the way back in 2015 with their Black Friday shoppable window displays. The windows featured augmented reality technology which connected to the House of Fraser app unlocking Black Friday offers.


Burberry get Personal

Fashion brand Burberry remains one of the most innovative luxury retailers despite it’s traditional heritage. Recently, it has tapped into the trend for personalisation, boasting a customizable scarf bar.


Source: Youtube.

The scarf bar has been launched in store at London’s Regent Street, and allows customers to personalise their own scarf with their initials similar to the infamous Burberry capes (as worn by Cara Delevigne and Rosie Huntington Whitely). Shoppers can create their scarf by choosing from a range of colours and prints, and opting for up to three letters embroidered in a choice of two font sizes.

Burberry have, however, raised the bar even higher in the luxury personalisation stakes, unveiling a personalised responsive digital marketing campaign aimed at promoting the scarf bar. The campaign focuses on technology that recognises user’s location in the world, recommending fabrics and colours to suit the weather conditions where they are.


Source: Marketing Week

With over 60% of luxury fashion consumers aged 16-34 stating their preference for a personalisation service prior to purchase, it appears that Burberry have well and truly hit the nail on the head. They have recognised that their customers are different with unique styles and needs, and created a way for customers to co-create their final product in a world of mass-produced everything.

So this week Burberry get a gold star from Dr Retail for being brave and experimenting with technology to reach the ultimate goal of any retailer- improving the shopper experience.

What’s In Store for Retail Marketing

What’s In Store for Retail Marketing?

In previous decades, being sustainable was largely linked with extra costs, particularly in the short term. However, over the past decade, corporate social responsibility has been gaining increasing momentum within the retail industry and an increasing number of companies are looking for ways to emphasise their commitment to environment and social goals. In recognising that sustainability is here to stay, the retail industry has seen an undeniable shift from looking a sustainability and “green retail” as a cost center, to seeing it as an opportunity to reduce and manage risk, improve customer and employee relationships and ultimately deliver better products and a better service.

Within the retail sector of the UK economy the British Retail Consortium reported way back in 2005 that “CSR is increasingly providing a template for retailers to report on a range of issues” and that “for retailers, CSR is inherent to their business strategy”. It is apparent, however, that CSR remains at the forefront of retailer’s strategic decision making and in a recent report sustainability experts from 82 countries worldwide were asked to identify leading companies integrating sustainability into their business strategies. The number of mentions ranked companies in the following order…

  1. Unilever (38%)
  2. Patagonia (12%)
  3. Interface (8%)
  4. Marks & Spencer (6%)
  5. Natura (5%)
  6. Ikea (5%)
  7. Nestle (4%)
  8. GE (3%)
  9. Nike (3%)
  10. Coca Cola (3%)

(Published in the 2015 Sustainability Leaders report)


But what can retailers expect to see a rise of in store in regards to green marketing?

  1. The use of Video with in store POP

While in general retailers will begin to adopt and experiment with technology and innovative ideas, companies are notably trialling the implementation of a number of video formats.

EXAMPLE: Visa used a four part ‘shoppable’ YouTube video series to promote Visa Checkout- an online service that allows users to store their payments and shipping information. Using YouTube shoppable video technology, the audience can buy products featured by clicking directly on the video.

Result: Increased consumer engagement and an inventive way of showcasing products even for the busiest customers.


  1. Increased use of recycled materials

A survey by Cone Communications and Echo Research recently uncovered that 87% of global consumers factor CSR into their purchase decisions. Ultimately this demonstrates that simply, consumers these days are more attracted to retailers or companies that invest in CSR schemes and initiatives.

EXAMPLE: Waitrose are already known for their support of British Farmers but have furthered this recently by backing British Wool licensee and entrepreneur Kim Stead with her innovative reusable 100% British Wool shopping bag. The new concept of “twool” wool bags has been a major investment for Stead, offering a robust bag that provides a sustainable and biodegradable alternative to commonly used carrier bags.


  1. Development of in store marketing systems and the value chain for continuous improvement

Robin Lewis and Michael Dark highlighted a key factor to ensure retail success in their book, The New Rules of Retail. They argue that if retailers are looking to offer persuasive and exciting shopper experiences there is an undeniable need to take control of the entire value chain, from product manufacturing to distribution and marketing.

Sustainability is not a static concept that is over after a sustainability report is written. Retailers are now beginning to develop long-term sustainability projects with short, mid and long-term goals and objectives. Goals require infrastructure development in order to achieve continuous improvement. Management and IT systems for continuous improvement involve supplier scorecarding, management training, employee training, energy reduction goals and regular sustainability reporting.

EXAMPLES: Apple and Ralph Lauren are both praised on their ability to manage the value chain from pre to post purchase.


  1. CSR initiatives promoted in store rather than product benefits

2015 will likely see an increase in retailers launching ethical initiatives promoted in store. CSR improves the shopping experience in a number of ways. It makes customers feel good knowing they’re contributing to a worthwhile cause, essentially it boosts shoppers propensity to spend the money in their pocked by assuring them that the money they are spending is not going into one person’s pocket but is truly making a difference somewhere in the world.


Evidently, the bottom line is that it is all about the customer experience, so our recommendation? Jump on the bandwagon as quickly as possible because these trends are not something you should be missing out on. Once again, the customer is king.


A chat with… Jon Howland-Nielsen

A chat with… Jon Howland- Nielsen

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  1. What is your professional background?

 Sales and Marketing executive with over 10 years of selling and marketing within the Mobile and IT sectors

  1. What projects are you working on at the moment?

 My most recent project i’ve been working on is setting up an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) within HP, using my past experiences from my mobile industry roles. The concept is to provide 3G/4G connectivity to anyone purchasing a HP tablet or some notebooks to enable them to be more productive in the commercial space and never have the fear of missing out on the latest viral Facebook clip for the consumer space.

  1. What has been your favourite project to work on?

 My favourite project has been building a business from scratch in HP. The accessories business (bags, mice, keyboards) basically anything that isn’t a computer, printer or ink is vitally important for any PC company as it’s the area that delivers the most margin. I had the opportunity to own, grow and push this business for HP for over 2 years and loved every minute.

  1. What trends are you seeing emerging?

 More and more consumers want to be connected and the “Fear of Missing Out” is leading to the demand for connectivity on devices anywhere, whether it’s a Sim Card in a Laptop or Tablet, or just using the hotspot function on your mobile phone more and more people are choosing and needing to be connected.

  1. How would you describe the HP in store experience?

 HP’s instore experience is better than it has been but still has room to improve in the way we communicate to customer via our POS materials or how we talk about our products and services. We need to be less about specs and more about the real world needs. Manufacturer’s are also reigned back by the retailer as they want certain things done “their” way which makes the customer communication harder less intuitive.

  1. What are your thoughts on incorporating digital/social media technologies into in store marketing communications?

 I think this will become more and more prevalent in 2016 and beyond as customer continue to change the way they purchase big ticket items in particular. Showrooming is more important than ever and it’s not all about seeing in store and purchasing online, it’s about the whole experience with that brand you are purchasing or the retailer you are purchasing from. 

  1. What part do you think ‘green’ retail will play in the future of in store marketing?

 I think less demand on paper for fact tag and communication in store moving to more digital elements will save wastage, but personally i think it’s the products manufacturers that will change, small packaging or none at all…less cardboard, paper, plastics means less frustration unpacking and less impact on the environment.

Three Tips for the Perfect Design Brief

Written by Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is a leader in retail design, having worked for nearly twenty years in the business on senior positions. He is passionate about the wide benefits that design can bring to business and publishes about his views on design, innovation and creativity at and on his LinkedIn page.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.26.34

Over the years I have worked up hundreds of design briefs with all kinds of project teams. I’ve developed and refined the process I follow for developing design briefs, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. I don’t think I’ve got to perfection yet, but I do have three suggestions that I think will help you get closer to the ‘perfect’ design brief.

1. The ‘Anchor’ Definition

Project briefs can be long and complex and have too much information for most of us to keep in our heads at one time. A memorable, single statement which sums up the project can keep the project from drifting away from the brief. It’s the fundamental ‘what are we really doing here’ question and something to keep the project anchored. I worked once on a project for Boots Opticians where the anchor was ‘let’s make the opticians consultation as fun as a beauty consultation’. This drove a design solution which was much less clinical, improved customer interaction and generated a whole different take on the look and feel of the final design.

2. Let Me Tell You What I Want!

So often clients find it impossible to articulate what it is they want from a project; they’ll talk about the solution rather than the problem, and that can feel really frustrating. Getting to the ‘problem’ is actually quite difficult, and we should let clients describe the issue in any way they choose. Isn’t it part of our role, as designers, to interpret that for the client? It can mean we have to work hard iterating the brief, but ultimately it should be defined in the ‘Response to Brief’, produced by the designers. I find that allowing the client to express themselves in a variety of ways, such as by defining ‘what’s out there’ in the market and why they like it, or ‘what ideas they currently have’, is a great way of getting the ‘solution’ expressed. It then reveals lots of clues that lead to the real problem.

3. Don’t Forget the ‘Boring’ Stuff

Too often design briefs overlook some of the key information that any design project needs to be delivered successfully. Any brief should include details about costs and fees, a breakdown of expected deliverables and a time-plan for the project. Sometimes, with very complicated companies, information about the decision makers and approval rights of key stakeholders is also valuable information to be shared right at the start. Most of the ‘difficult’ projects that I have been involved with over the years, have all come down to a lack of clarity over the fees, what the expectations were for the project or late delivery; rather than anything to do with the creative output. These things might sometimes seem boring, but are essential for harmony in any design project!

Read other great articles in our latest Life in the Retail Space

Festival of Marketing
5th-6th October 2016

LOCATION: Tobacco Dock, London


The Festival of Marketing is a unique experience where ambitious marketers can discover, learn, celebrate and shape the future together.

With more than 200 speakers, workshops, awards, experience rooms and training, it is the only event that truly reflects the creative, strategic and tactical job that marketers do.

For tickets to events please feel free to contact and she will be happy to help. 

AR and VR World
18th-20th October 2016

LOCATION: ExCel London


This event will demonstrate the commercial potential of both virtual and augmented reality. Experts in the field will hold debates and offer networking opportunities for an industry that is forecast to generate over 80 billion dollars worth of revenue by 2025. Don’t miss out! 

For tickets to events please feel free to contact and she will be happy to help. 

POPAI Awards
4th October 2016

LOCATION: Lancaster Hotel, London


The 10th annual POPAI Awards will be held at the Lancaster London Hotel, celebrating the best in the business in retail marketing excellence.

POPAI has reserved rooms at the Lancaster Hotel for the evening and requests that when booking over the phone, people should quote POPAI to receive discount. 

For tickets to events please feel free to contact and she will be happy to help. 

Levi’s Shows Its Pride With The Window Light Show™

Levi’s, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, celebrated Pride month this June. To express their message of love, support, and community, the brand transformed the Window Light Show™installation in their San Francisco flagship store to feature animations celebrating gay pride.


Valley’s partner Outform created colorful animations that were both fun and impactful, featuring Levi’s batwing logo and the iconic rainbow flag during Gay Pride month. The synchronisation between the animation playing on the displays is also notable as they work in unison to create symmetry and beauty, lighting up the Castro district and spreading the theme of equality and diversity to shoppers and passers by alike.

As the saying goes, “Say it loud, say it proud!” with Levi’s doing just that through the powerfully-expressive Window Light Show™ transformations!


Valley Production Manager John Spence bids farewell after 40 years

Valley’s longstanding Production Manager, John Spence, has retired after over 40 years of association with the business.

John began his relationship with Valley as a client when he worked for CV Carpets, building up a fantastic partnership over two decades. He then joined Valley as Production Manager, overseeing the day-to-day operations of our Yorkshire manufacturing facilities.

John was instrumental in developing our internal processes and procedures and played a key role in Valley securing ISO:9001 accreditation.

John will of course remain a much loved member of the Valley family in his retirement.

Enjoy it, John! Ours is a pint!

Recycling Retail for the Good of the Planet

Recycling retail Coca Cola marketing one brand CSR sustainability green

Back in 2012, we suggested to the Government that there was life in Olympic branded retail marketing collateral, after the games. The concept was based on the premise… “I am a retail display… Tomorrow I’ll be educating children about the planet”.

We suggested that ex displays could be recycled into educational equipment such as; mini wind turbines and microscopes, to name just a few. 

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Today, Valley have turned the concept into a reality in India, recycling retail product displays into educational tools. Please view the video below to see the work that is going on. 

The big question is, what could you be doing to do your bit?

We have some great ideas, let’s sit round a table. 

John Lewis presents smart home technology experience

John Lewis unveiled what it describes as the UK’s largest smart home technology experience, today at it’s Oxford Street flagship store. The experience features futuristic gadgets and technologies for every room, following an 81% increase in sales of smart home technologies in previous years. The space is split into four interactive zones including; the kitchen, entertainment, sleep and home monitoring. Demonstrations will showcase the technologies to the best of their capacity and will showcase how the smart technology responds to human behaviour without direct interaction.


John Lewis Smart Home in Oxford Street


In line with our research regarding the rise of experiential marketing, John Lewis are clear that in store experiences are growing in importance, with customers enjoying physically experiencing products before they commit to purchasing them. Particularly in the technology industry, experiences such as this not only allow customers to trial the technologies but also to help understand which technology is useful for them personally.



Some of the technologies include; an oven that is able to start cooking your dinner while you’re out, a quality of sleep monitor which can provide an alarm to wake you up when you’re at the lightest point of sleep and a smart fridge that can place internet shopping orders for you. All products featured will be available to purchase in store and on the John Lewis website and the smart home experience will begin roll out in Autumn starting with the newest Leeds store… Keep your eyes peeled!

IKEA goes Green

Ikea Group and Ikea Foundation have pledged €1 billion on renewable energy and climate change policies, particularly in nations and communities most impacted by climate change.

The pledge builds on previously invested €1.5 billion which has been used by Ikea to improve wind and solar power technologies since 2009. This investment coupled with others of Ikea’s green initiatives has resulted in the company being on track to becoming energy independent/ neutral- producing as much energy as it consumes.

The new funding looks to help less well off communities to increase their resilience to climate change and adopt renewable energy technologies and initiatives across the community as a whole.

Further to this, Ikea have announced the opening of four eco friendly stores in India, which will feature solar panels on the store roofs, and in car parks. Ikea’s carbon footprint will also be the focus of development, with partnerships with suppliers utilised to improve energy efficiencies.

Ikea have identified the potential for huge savings, which, in turn, translate into enormous reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, demonstrating the dyadic benefits related to going green within the retail industry.

Read other great articles in our latest Life in the Retail Space

Storm Desmond will not get the better of Tesco

Tesco has built a 10,000 sq ft temporary store in just 7 days to replace it’s flooded superstore on Warwick Road, Carlisle.


We have all read about the devastating effects of Storm Desmond following a string of terrible storms across the UK, however Tesco have proved that nothing will stop them from serving their customers. Around 100 staff members helped to construct a temporary shop in the original site’s car park in a bid to ensure that the people of Carlisle were not left without essentials and festive favourites just before Christmas.

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Source: The Guardian

Staff were evacuated from the store on the first weekend of December after water rose to waist height and businesses all over the region ground to a halt. The store is currently in the process of being refurbished and is looking to reopen in late January.


Source: The Guardian

Apple gets a solar powered makeover

To carry on from our white paper regarding green retail (view), information has been released suggesting that Apple is planning on going green itself- opening a new store in Singapore powered using renewable energy.


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Solar power panels will harvest the energy needed to run the store and will be located on not only the roof of the store itself but also on the roofs of some public buildings. Apple has not revealed the exact location or opening date as of yet but we’ll be sure to keep you updated!!

Sainsbury’s check into the convenience game

Sainsbury’s are trialling new store designs in six locations across the UK in response to changing customer needs and shopping styles. 

Among the changes being tested, Sainsbury’s is responding to increased pressures to meet customer expectations by looking to explicitly cater to specific shopping missions. For example, stores will feature Food to Go sections by the checkouts as well as a larger range of checkout options, and a fresh bakery in close proximity, specifically designed for the speedy, convenience conscious shoppers. Sainsbury’s SmartShop app is an example of their new checkout options, allowing customers to scan shopping lists at home, locate their items on a map on their phone and checkout using just an app and handset.

A different layout is also being trialled adding to the ease and speed at which customers will be able to shop and allowing the store to offer more choice in a range of products. Notably, around 30% more space will be dedicated to Tu clothing, kitchen and homeware.

The new stores are being used as a method of engaging customers and creating a conversation between them and the employees. Feedback at this stage is vital to the success of the long term design, allowing Sainsbury’s to capitalise on the more popular features and modify the less popular. It is clear that not everything will work but from a customer’s perspective, it’s nice to see they’re trying!