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Independent retailer exceeds previous years’ annual online turnover in just one month!

It’s been another disappointing year for the high street, but there has been some very good news for one independent retailer.

Sarah at Artichoke has seen her profits soar, despite the declining footfall, and recounts how in just one month she exceeded her previous year’s entire online annual turnover! These are huge statistics and Sarah puts it all down to her decision to collaborate with the online platform Down Your High Street, and the power of TV.

The high street closures of many of the big keystone retailers like Argos, M&S and Primark means that fewer people are visiting the high street on a regular basis, and when you combine this with the fact that many banks are now also closing their bricks and mortar branches in preference for online banking, it’s clear why the high street is facing an uncertain future. People are just not visiting the high street in the same numbers as they used to.

We also know that shopping habits have changed over the years and the rise of online shopping means that independent bricks and mortar retailers are now really starting to feel the pinch.

Like many independent retailers, the Artichoke clothes boutique that Sarah has owned for over twelve years, had seen its sales decreasing year on year, and customer visits diminishing. Sarah has a small online store in addition to her two bricks and mortar shops and one pop-up shop, but she realised that in order to compete with the big retailers she needed to grow her online presence.

So, it was with great interest that Sarah read about the online platform Down Your High Street in January 2019. She’d received an email from Bira (British Independent Retailers Association) which invited independent retailers to boost their online presence by launching their shop on the DYHS online retail platform for 5% commission instead of 15% for the first year. Sarah signed up to DYHS in January 2019 because she wanted to have access to a larger platform on which to sell her ‘basics’.

She had no idea how her decision to sign up with DYHS, made by her own admission because ‘January was quiet, and there wasn’t much to do in the shops’, could have led to such a spectacular change in the fortunes of her business.

Just two weeks after launching Artichoke on the DYHS platform, Sarah’s ‘Angelika Magic Stretch Jeans’ were featured on ‘The Lorraine Show’ and everything ‘went a bit crazy’, Sarah explained. It’s no secret that the Lorraine Show’s fashion presenter Mark Heyes is a huge fan of the high street and finds a lot of inspiration for his style and beauty segment from the DYHS platform. Sarah was thrilled when Mark selected her Angelika jeans to be featured on the programme and recounts how she was watching the show at home when she saw the model coming out wearing a pair of her jeans. The model ‘looked fabulous’ and said how she’d rather have two pairs of the Artichoke jeans than the other far more expensive pair of jeans that they were being judged against. It was at this point that Sarah says her phone started ringing with orders and by the time she’d walked the two minutes from her house to her shop, the jeans had completely sold out in ALL of her stores. ‘It just shows the power of TV’ Sarah joked.

Sarah was advised by Dan Whytock of DYHS to expect to sell 40-50 additional pairs of jeans as a consequence of being featured on the show, but the reality was that she shifted over 400 pairs! In fact, so huge was the viewer response to the jeans that Sarah took over 150 online orders in just two minutes and received over 100 telephone calls from customers wanting to place an order. She was totally overwhelmed and is grateful to Dan for his support in helping her to manage the unprecedented number of orders.

In terms of hard stats, Sarah has seen;

– 20-25% increase in turnover in her pop-up shop since January 2019 (based on last year’s figures)

– 6-7% increase in turnover this year compared to the same time last year.

Her turnover for the month of January also exceeded her annual online turnover for the whole of the previous year. Last year she had a turnover of around 15k and in January this year she’s had a turnover of around 17k.

These figures are phenomenal, and Sarah has no doubt that it’s all down to her decision to move her shop onto a bigger online platform. Although most of the initial orders were completed online, Sarah has attracted more people to her bricks and mortar shops as a result of the TV appearance and has seen her visibility increase hugely as a result.

Sarah’s tips for other independent retailers looking to future proof is to make the shopping experience special and to make the environment and customer service key.

She admits that next year is going to be a tough one for independent retailers and that in the short term she is going to be focusing on survival. Sarah is optimistic about the longer-term future of the high street though, and encourages other independent retailers to embrace the digitalised era and to grow their online presence whilst retaining their bricks and mortar roots.

If you’re an independent high street retailer and interested in listing your products on a larger online platform, you can sign up to the DYHS platform here.

Find out more about Down Your High Street