Claire Leigh clearly has her ducks in a row, with an award-winning boutique in its sixth year, an intuitive ePOS system, and a refurb and rebrand in progress.
Two Ducks in the St John’s area of Woking is about to have a make-over. The refurb will involve moving the till to the back of the store, to allow for greater selling space at the front, as well as a branding and paint update to freshen up the shop and to bring in the new green and pink brand colours.
On a sunny day in July, Vend and Bira arrived at Two Ducks to be greeted by owner Claire Leigh, who excitedly walked us around her boutique, which sells everything from gifts, home décor, jewellery, stationery, cards, as well as her ‘carefully-curated’ fashion section.
The first thing you notice is the calming scent in the shop.
“That’s our new range of diffusers by Connocks,” says Claire.
There is no mistaking the calm and inviting space that Claire conveys. As well as the beautiful smell, you are met with soft jazz playing, fairy lights, plants and her team wearing the soft flowing fabrics of outfits you can buy there.
As we sat down to conduct the interview, customers wander through the store to choose outfits and select gifts, like cards and jewellery. Customers asked Claire’s team for advice and to try on different sizes of clothes and the purchases were carefully wrapped in tissue paper and popped into brown paper bags.
Two customers came in to buy Beach Powder, a new product, which removes sand from the skin and had been featured on the Two Ducks Instagram just the day before.
Claire sat on a velvet blue sofa, which is perfectly situated for waiting children and partners to sit comfortably, in the fashion section of the store.
“We also sell this furniture,” Claire was keen to point out.
Children are very welcome and so are dogs. “We are accepting, friendly and helpful. I know what it’s like to come shopping with children!”
“Vend has made life on a daily basis a lot easier, the buying and till processes are a lot more efficient. We’ve got a scanner in now, so when we get new products in via email my husband and I are able to upload them over night through their barcodes. Now when deliveries arrive, they are already priced up and ready to go. It makes things a lot smoother and quicker. My staff know how to update it too, so it saves some of my time.
“It has also helped to increase our marketing email list, which helps us to keep in contact with customers. We’re starting to make use of the data available through Vend as well. My staff can see our bestsellers that week and it gives us something to focus on within the shop.
“I’m looking forward to doing more with it and growing more with it, as we look to update our website and make it transactional.”
When asked what makes the Two Ducks customer experience so special, Claire said: “When people are shopping so much online, we have to make their visit to our shop worthwhile. We spend money on getting our window displays professionally done, we make sure there are flowers outside. We want it to be like an exploration as you come in. We even had a retail consultant from Harrods come in and review the store for us, to make it more customer friendly.”
And on retailing in today’s climate, Claire added: “You have to be adaptable and willing to change. If you make a mistake with a certain product, then correct it quickly. I’ll reduce it quickly to get it sold as our customers are used to seeing fresh things in the shop.
“We also keep rotating stock. I go every few months to certain stores and I’m shocked to see the same stock in there each time. I’d be really bored if I was local to those stores. I like interesting stock and rarely take reps coming in. I like to pick variety and work hard to find new things. I tend to buy in small quantities and rotate it quickly. We don’t have things in for long and this creates exclusivity and encourages them to buy now, as it will probably be gone by next week.”