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The Mary Portas Secret of Retail Success

The Mary Portas Secret of Retail Success

by | Marketing

Retail expert Mary Portas has been described as probably the UK’s foremost authority on retail and brand communication. But what’s her formula for retail success, and how can local retailers use it?

Queen of Shops

Television viewers all over the UK are familiar with her as the Queen of Shops, but many won’t be aware of how influential she is on our high streets. Mary Portas worked her way up from her start as a Saturday shop girl, to being the person credited with turning Harvey Nichols into the iconic retail phenomenon it is today.

How She Does It

So how does she do it? How does she turn an ailing shop into a raging success? Her formula is incredibly effective. If you run almost any kind of retail store you must study this deceptively simple list. Study it carefully, because each simple point carries a multitude of lessons.

1. Staging/Display

Do this to draw the eye of your shoppers to packages of products. Bundle related products together. This gives the shopper a chance to understand how your products relate to their lifestyle and that creates opportunities for you to upsell and cross-sell items.

2. Identify the USP (Unique Selling Point)

This is what differentiates you from your competitors. Just because you both sell shoes doesn’t mean shoppers have the same reason to buy from you. Find out how what you sell gives the customers what they want. Ask yourself (and them) why they buy from you and develop lines of products that match your USP.

3. Engage With the Press

Local (and even national) press are always looking for great stories. If you can develop a talent for giving them interesting angles they’ll pay you back with free publicity worth thousands. This includes influential websites and blogs. Similarly, you can get some great PR by engaging with influencers and opinion formers on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.

4. Declutter & Simplify

This should be a constant mantra for you. Clear the path between shopper, product and purchase. Look at ways to declutter every day. How easy is it for a new customer to find what they need? Do your staff assist or put people off by being too pushy? Look again at the pathways through your store: do you even have any, or are shoppers expected to run an obstacle race to the till?

5. Learn from Successful Competitors

If you’re on the high street, this is easy. Get out from behind your counter and stroll through your competitors’ shops. How are they displaying their products? Where is their counter positioned? Have they done away with a counter altogether & given their staff portable payment processors? Study their decor, maybe yours is looking old fashioned? How’s their customer care? Are they big on social media? It’s your job to find out.

6. Rebrand

Sometimes you just need to take a completely fresh look at your brand identity. That doesn’t just mean a fresh coat of paint or new logo either, by the way. Talk to someone with branding experience, buy them a coffee and ask their advice. “We often identify whether a company needs branding help very quickly” says Ash Mashhadi, Partner at Plymouth-based branding specialists Design Inspiration “we ask a few diagnostic questions and their strengths and weaknesses tell us the best way to go”.

7. Hold a Relaunch Event

This is where your rebranding, PR and research comes together to kick-start your success. There’s nothing like an event to draw attention, create excitement and attract new customers.

The Next Step

Create your own checklist. Do you have a clear USP? Can all your staff articulate it easily and naturally? Keep an eye on your competition. Do they have any great ideas you could adapt and use? I bet you could do some decluttering. Whatever needs doing, borrow some of that famous Mary Portas attitude to make it happen today, tomorrow and happily ever after.


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