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Black Friday deals set to flood the market as more small retailers offer deals

UK shoppers across the nation are set to enjoy more Black Friday deals this year, as close to a quarter of small retailers are aiming to participate in the discounting event this year across to new research.

Data from YouGov has found that 23 percent of small retail businesses are looking to participate in Black Friday this year, an increase from the 14 percent which participated last year. 35 percent of small business say that Black Friday is one of their most important days trading every year, with up to 82 percent of the participants expecting to sell more items on Black Friday than on an average day.

Amazon Marketplace prepares for 'record-breaking' Black Friday

In particular, small businesses selling their goods through Amazon Marketplace are said to be preparing for a 'record-breaking Black Friday' and will be offering deep discounts on thousands of gifts, fashion items and accessories throughout Amazon's Black Friday sale event. The online giant's Black Friday sale, which is set to run from midnight on Friday, November 17 to one minute to midnight on Sunday, November 26, will include 'Deals of Day' as well as 'Lightning Deals', items available at a discount in limited quantities for a short period of time.

“We know customers love wide selection and great deals, so we’re glad to see so many of our Marketplace sellers participating in Black Friday,” said Katie McQuaid, Director of Seller Services UK. “Customers now have the opportunity to support British small businesses by discovering unique products at a great price during our Black Friday Sales event, and we’re thrilled to support their continued growth.”

In order to help promote the growing number of small British business taking part in Black Friday, Amazon has launched a dedicated page at www.amazon.co.uk/smallbizblackfriday, after YouGov research found that smaller retailers believe Black Friday would be even more of a success for them if customers were able to find their deals more easily online. Amazon is currently featuring six small local businesses on its dedicated page which include Shearer Candles, Lavolio, Gamely, Luxelu, One Retail Group and iQualTech.

“Black Friday has grown for us year on year, and it’s helped us to grow our business by increasing sales and reaching new customers," said Gayle Hunter, founder and director at Luxelu, her own brand of lifestyle and beauty products. Hunter first participated in Black Friday last year, during which the brand saw an increase of 300 percent on its standard sales. "We’re expecting this year to be bigger and better than ever before, with more customers discovering our products, helping to build our brand in the UK and across Europe.”

Tens of thousands of British businesses sell their goods online via Amazon Marketplace, supporting more than 74,000 jobs. Over 60 percent of these businesses export their products to customers around the globe, with export sales surpassing 1.8 billion pounds last year. Small British businesses on Amazon Marketplace reportedly achieved tens of millions of pounds in sales during Amazon's Black Friday sales last year.

Photo: Black Friday deal page on Amazon Marketplace

German footwear brand Birkenstock has confirmed that it is to open its UK flagship on Neal Street in London’s Seven Dials in Covent Garden this autumn.

The 1,100 square foot store, located over two floors, will mark Birkenstock’s first brand-owned flagship store in the UK, and will house the brand’s sandals for men, women and children.

Birkenstock is a sixth-generation family-run business with roots that can be traced back to 1774 and is known for selecting materials from sustainable sources for its footwear including 100 percent natural and renewable cork that makes up the unique footbed in each shoe and sandal.

Sam Bain-Mollison, head of retail at Shaftesbury, said: “The fully branded Birkenstock store will have the largest range of products in the capital, making it a must-see for fans of the popular brand, as well as other shoppers, providing them with a store unique to Seven Dials.”

The Seven Dials area comprises of Monmouth Street, Earlham Street, Neal Street, Shorts Gardens, Neal’s Yard, Endell Street, Shelton Street, and Mercer Street and is home to more than 150 shops.

The Council of Fashion Designers America (CFDA) has announced that designer Prabal Gurung has moved into the CFDA Retail Lab, the brick-and-mortar retail space at Cadillac House.

The move coincides with the CFDA confirming the next four designer brands that will take part in the mentorship programme, which provides the fashion designers a real-world education in retail, including the opportunity to sell within the rotating physical retail space.

The 2018 Retail Lab shops, which will operate for three months each, will be Title of Work, Dannijo, Rosetta Getty and Rachel Zoe.

They follow in the footsteps of Timo Weiland, Cushnie et Ochs, Public School, Tanya Taylor, and Pamela Love, who have all utilised the retail shop this year, with Gurung taking over the shop for the holiday season. He is selling his autumn/winter 2017 collection, as well as an array of skincare products in partnership with belif, and hand crafted artisanal products from his home in Nepal.

“The selected 2018 Retail Lab designers are a diverse group of American fashion designers with a unique brand story to tell,” said Ashley Sandall, director of Strategic Partnerships for the CFDA. “With Cadillac’s continued support, these designers are able to grow their businesses while receiving valuable resources as they consider opening their owned retail stores.”

Nathan Tan, associate director of brand partnerships and experiences at Cadillac, added: “Retail Lab is the full embodiment of our brand’s commitment to fashion and Cadillac House’s mission to curate ever-changing programming for the community, beyond automotive.

“We are proud to provide this year’s class of designers with a blank canvas to experiment with as a physical extension of their brand and look forward to seeing what they each create.”

The Retail Lab is located within Cadillac House at 330 Hudson Street in New York and is supported by way of store fixtures provided by Alu, mannequins from DK Display, hangers from Henry Hangers and technology and retail business solutions from Prism, Axis and KWI.

Bluewater trials online shopping portal

Bluewater shopping centre in Kent is trailing a new online shopping portal featuring more than one million items from its retailers as part of owner Landsec’s strategy of using technology to enhance the guest experience across its portfolio of retail and leisure destinations.

The online portal is non-transactional and allows customers to research particular products or product categories, seek alternatives and purchase for delivery or collection at Bluewater, through redirects to the retailer’s own websites. In addition, the portal also helps shoppers find the location of the stores.

The trial is part of Landsec’s strategy of using technology to enhance guest experience and it is hoping that the portal will create additional means by which guests can interact with its destinations when not physically there, reflecting their position as lifestyle brands.

Bluewater trials online shopping portal

Landsec launches online shopping portal trial for Bluewater

Ailish Christian-West, head of shopping centres at Bluewater owner Landsec, said: “Our priority at Landsec is providing guests with a unique experience, one that complements their needs and aspirations.

“Whilst nothing quite beats the physical experience of visiting one of our retail and leisure destinations, the new shopping portal reflects how people are increasingly living their lives. Our guests can now move seamlessly between the physical and virtual worlds to make purchases and enjoy experiences."

Landsec has launched a series of innovations across its portfolio with the aim of enhancing its guest experience. Earlier this year, the company introduced guest experience measurement tools and analysis across its portfolio in partnership with Service Management Group, following a successful pilot over three years at Bluewater.

Utilising voluntary online surveys, real time analysis of results and instant messaging of key findings, the technology is being used by Landsec to understand guests’ responses to events, new guest experience initiatives, and the wider retailer experience at each asset.

Images: courtesy of Bluewater/Landsec

Singles Day breaks all records - again

Happy faces at Chinese online giant Alibaba: the inventor of Singles Day as a commercial event (now officially called “Global Shopping Festival“) announces ever increasing sales on 11th November each year; the sky seems the limit. Last year's record of 120.7 billion yuan (17.8 billion US dollars) was broken by midday on Saturday and increased by 48 billion yuan to reach a staggering 168.3 billion yuan (25.3 billion US dollars) by the end of the day.

The first hour of the mega event between midnight and 1 o'clock was key, accounting for goods sold worth 9.9 billion US dollars, almost half of all sales. Accordingly, Alipay, the group's electronic payment system, was running at full speed: at peak times, about five minutes past midnight, it handled 256,000 transactions per second, the company said, twice as many as during peak times in the previous year.

Alibaba calls and everyone joins in

Given the deep discounts offered not only by Alibaba but anyone, including competitors such as JD.com, many Chinese customers wait for Singles Day to fulfill their annual needs, for example when it comes to creams, toothpaste, soaps and other durable goods. But clothing and electronics such as air conditioning, microwaves and electric shavers were also sought after. According to Alibaba, 92 percent of all purchases were made by smartphone, cementing China's position as the world's undisputed number one in m-commerce.

Singles Day breaks all records - again

Following its motto “retail as entertainment”, Alibaba celebrated in style - first on the eve of the event with a television gala with celebrities such as Alibaba boss Jack Ma, singer Pharrell Williams, Hollywood star Nicole Kidman and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing. Then, on Sunday, with a huge party in Shanghai, processing 24 hours of continuous stress, 812 million orders (657 million in 2016), 15 million listed products and 140,000 brand partners.

Alibaba counts on consumer engagement and brand building

But it is not only about sales but also consumer engagement and brand building, both of which Alibaba achieved. “I’ve talked with a lot of brand partners, and all of them recognize the importance of good sales. But more importantly, they know 11.11 isn’t just about sales. It’s about consumer engagement and brand-building,” explains Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang. “Success on 11.11 comes because every participant contributes the best resources, the best products and the best services to customers on that day.”

Singles Day was launched by Alibaba as a commercial event in 2009, having no connection to the marital status of its customers. The day is named after the single digits in its date, 11.11, which was used as an alternative to Valentine's Day by Chineses students since the early '90s, celebrating their single status through karaoke parties and exchanging gifts.

Alibaba capitalised on the commercial aspect and incentivised gift giving through deep discounts. Now, China's students are busy shopping online on Singles Day, thus boosting the country's economy. And indeed, increased domestic consumption has made up for spending from abroad, which has been declining, leading to the Chinese economy growing by 6.9 percent in the first three quarters of the year. And other countries like the United States and the UK are only too eager to emulate Singles Day to reap its success in their own markets.

Photos: Alibaba
Mamas & Papas unveil new content-driven website

British maternity retailer has launched its renewed website which offers users content-driven online experience.

The new website has been designed to offer users the same service Mamas & Papas offers in its physical stores and includes useful information, tips and tricks for parents-to-be and existing parents. As part of its focus on content, the retailer has teamed up with a number of experts, including bloggers Anna Tizard and Lydia Barron, founders of Tiba & Marl, who share advice on a wide range of topics such as wellbeing and nutrition.

The site includes more focus on editorial content under a new dedicated section to help guide customers 'through pregnancy and beyond', as well as more information on its products under the 'Why Buy Me' section to help parents with their bigger purchases. Mamas & Papas renewed site launch is part of the retailer' s digital transformation to help boost its online sales and comes after the appointment of global digital & marketing director Neil Sumner.

“Our customer has different wants and needs at key stages throughout their parenthood journey and we wanted to ensure we are interacting with them – whether through their research or their shopping experience," said Julie Austin, Head of Digital in a statement. “Creation of the new ‘Discover’ content, increased video visibility, enhanced furniture and travel showroom experience on fully responsive templates were building blocks to extending our best in class store experience. This is step one for us on an enhanced international roadmap for all our channels.”

Photo: Mamas & Papas website

Canada Goose opens its first flagship store in London

Canada Goose has opened doors to it’s London flagship store at 244 Regent Street. The 5,000 sq. ft. location features Canadian design elements, including marble quarried in British Columbia. The company said, the new store offers the broadest assortment of seasonal collections and exclusive collaborations anywhere in Europe.

“Opening our first European flagship store is another milestone for Canada Goose in a year where we’re celebrating our 60th anniversary. London is a truly world-renowned shopping destination and I am proud to bring our Canadian heritage, Made-in-Canada craftsmanship and best-in-class product to the city’s historic streets,” said Dani Reiss, President & CEO, Canada Goose in a media statement.

Canada Goose opens its first flagship store in London

A selection of vintage pieces from the company’s 60-year archive will also be on display and rotate seasonally, to include the Peace Keeper Parka, which was created exclusively for Ontario Provincial Police officers who face extreme conditions in the line of duty.

Canada Goose opens its first flagship store in London

As testament to the brand’s role as a champion of Made in Canada, the store showcases Canadian artisans and craftsman, such as Jason Carter, an Aboriginal visual artist, whose soapstone-carved polar bears displayed throughout the store are an indication to Canada Goose’s long-time relationship with Polar Bears International.

Picture:Canada Goose store via Canoe

11.11 to bring in 24 billion dollars, leaving Black Friday in the dust

London - 11.11, others known as Singles' Day, is set to leave Black Friday, Cyber Monday and even Amazon's Prime Day eating its dust, as becomes the leading online shopping bonanza. Occurring annually on November 11, Alibaba's shopping holiday is estimated to generate a record 158 billion yuan, 24 billion US dollars of sales this year according to Citigroup Inc. In 2016, Alibaba made just under 18 billion US dollars in sales and is keen to break this record this year.

11.11 to bring in 24 billion dollars, leaving Black Friday in the dust

Since its first event back in 2009, 11.11 has grown into an 24 hour shopping and entertainment festival, making it 18 times larger than Amazon's Prime day and 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Kicking off at midnight, the 9th consecutive online shopping festival is set to offer 15 million products from more than 140,000 brands on discount on Tmall. 60,000 international brands will also be participating in the discounting frenzy, as other online platforms such as rival JD.com, will also be offering their own sales in a bid to attract shoppers. Everything from beauty, to fashion, furniture and more will be on sale, as 11.11 is set to reach over 600 million customers.

11.11 to bring in 24 billion dollars, leaving Black Friday in the dust

Singles' Day 2017 now 2.5 times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined

In order to appeal to a wider segment of shoppers, Alibaba has penned a number of strategic partnerships with luxury brands, such as Opening Ceremony, Jason Wu and Robert Geller. In addition, Alibaba has also tapped a number of international singers, such as Pharrell Williams, Jessie J and tennis star Maria Sharapova, to attend its 3rd 11.11 countdown gala, which engages with viewers in real time via mobile. For example, last year viewers were able to win clothing won by stars or collect the traditional Chinese 'red packets' via their smartphones while they watched the gala. Last year's countdown gala was followed by 400 million viewers, which is three times more than those who followed the US Super bowl this year.

Former president of Fox news and Emmy-winning veteran television producer David Hill is set to direct the countdown gala for the second year in a row, believes the show is part of 11.11 ongoing success when it comes to consumer engagement. "If you analyze why we are doing the show, it’s to turn shopping into sport and to make shopping into entertainment, so the show has got to reflect that philosophy," said Hill to Alizila, Alibaba’s own news site. "And the way the show is constructed—with so many segments, so many stars and fun bits—it reflects the overreaching theme of what Single’s Day has become. It is truly remarkable. We can do things in China we can’t do virtually anywhere else in the world. In America, if you stream to any more than one or two million people you get a swirling circle of death, meaning it’s not connecting. In China, we can stream to over 35 million people. It boggles the mind.”

11.11 to bring in 24 billion dollars, leaving Black Friday in the dust

This year's 11.11 is also the one year anniversary of the 'New Retail' strategy launched by Alibaba. As the e-commerce giant continues to grow, it aims to blur the boundaries between online and offline while digitizing the offline retail world. It's leading supermarket concept Hema is a leading example of this, but the Chinese company is keen to generate more new retail formats, which is why it has partnered with 52 shopping malls in 12 cities to launch 60 pop-up 'iStores' for international brands such as Estée Lauder. These iStores offer technological features, such as facial recognition-powered payment solutions, scan-and-deliver 020 shopping features as well as AR beauty tutorials. Overall, 1,000 brands, including Gap, Vero Moda and C&A in 334 cities will convert their stores into to 100,000 iStore locations for 11.11.

But that is not all Alibaba has up its sleeve for 11.11. In order to help boost its popularity outside of China, Tmall is set to bring more than 100 domestic Chinese brands, such as Peacebird, Haier and Gree to international markets, targeting millions over Chinese shoppers living abroad.

Photos: Courtesy of Alibaba

Butikku opens on Maddox Street

Europe’s only specialist retailer of luxury Japanese designer clothes and lifestyle goods, Butikku has opened on Maddox Street, London.

Butikku opens on Maddox Street

The store, designed in collaboration with architects Soho+Co, provides a boutique space for clothing alongside a dedicated gallery space displaying Japanese fine art.

Butikku opens on Maddox Street

Butikku currently offers over 300 exclusive clothing and accessory items, each hand-picked from the latest collections of leading Japanese designers, with most brands not available anywhere else in the UK or Europe, including several designers that are alumni of internationally-renowned designers, including Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier and Aquascutum.

Butikku opens on Maddox Street

Founded in 2013 by Kevin House, a former management consultant in the Energy sector, Butikku has previously sold its exclusive ranges through pop-up boutiques and its online store. By dealing directly with the designers, Butikku avoids ‘middle-man’ costs in order to keep prices lower for its customers.

The opening exhibition in the gallery space is a selection of works from the “Flower Ball Series” by renowned Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami.

Butikku opens on Maddox Street

Images: courtesy of Butikku