“To conquer the enemy without resorting to war is the most desirable. The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy.”
Sun Tzu
The Art of War

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Pocket Balance

Pocket Balance

It’s Wednesday so this week  it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Pocket Balance

A pocket balance – also known as a spring scale – is simply a spring fixed at on e end with a hook to which an object can be attached at the other. The object to be weighed is hung from the hook and the force that this weight exerts on the spring is proportion al to the distance that spring is extended – an established scientific principle known as Hooke’s Law. The scale markings on the spring balance identify the weight accordingly. The pocket balance was first created in 1770 by Richard Salter in the UK. From the late 18th century onwards these little scales were widely used in markets, grocers and farm shops – wherever people needed to be able to verify the weight of goods to be purchased in order to calculate the correct pricing. Portable, quick and simple to use, the pocket balance was ideal for weighing goods where pinpoint accuracy was not required, for example, sacks of potatoes or meat carcasses. The underlying principles of the spring balance were later incorporated into the spring scale weighing system widely used by retailers. In this case, the items are placed on a tray underneath the spring mechanism and the pressure exerted (expressed as weight) is shown by the position of pointer on the numbered dial.

Contribution to Retail History

The portable spring scale was the first major development in weighing scales that didn’t rely on the use of counterweights. Their portability enabled goods to be weighed anywhere, not only in shops or other fixed locations. Spring scales are still in use today because they are cheap to make and easy to use, although in the retail environment, more accurate digital scales have replaced them.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Graphic Signage

In Store Graphic_1

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is Graphic Signage.

Graphic signage, as a form of store to customer communication, has existed for as long as there have been shops. There are examples of signs in shops and trading houses preserved in the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum – some in paint ed form casually painted onto shutters and panelling and obviously tempo rary, ot hers permanently carved into the shop stone work. These signs suggest that Roman shopkeepers seldom used their names to identify their shop – a butcher, for example, might identify his trade by painting a sheep. This form of identity was a widespread practice in Europe until the 17th century when shopkeepers began to put their names on the shop fascia – thus began the process of brand identity and reputation. Today store communications fall into three categories: Information (way finding, price, weight, provenance, product content and so forth); Promotion (sale, special offer, and more) and Emotional and Positional. The graphics in this latter category may not be product specific, but might be images of contented cows inferring ethical farming, or others conveying images of traditional craftsmanship. But in all cases, graphics serve to promote a brand’s position and reputation. “Brand is but Trust spelt differently” and in the modern shopping context, whether it is digital on the shop screen, or in the physical shopping space, store communications in whatever form, are increasing. But they are also subject to scrutiny for accuracy and truthfulness and as such, play a critical role in demonstrating the brand’s integrity.

Contribution to Retail History

Graphic signage in stores helps to create the tonal atmosphere that reflects the store’s positioning. Used to inform or promote, their distinctive designs brought new rewards for the retailers.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

David Roth In Retail Conversation With…

DR Retail Con_Sept2014

I am going to do another in the popular series “In Retail Conversation…” This time the subject is Tesco’s and I will be in conversation with Bryan Roberts, the insightful –  Insights Director at Kantar Retail with a wicked sense of humor.  We will be sending out invitations to attend on Monday but as a special offer to my blog readers you are going to get advance priority and you can sign up for this online event now,  for free. Places are limited and it will be a sell out. So register right away before it is full. All you need is a web connection, sound and a reasonably fast connection. It takes pace on Thursday 11 September at 3pm GMT London time and lasts 60 minutes. You can register here.  Bryan and I are looking forward to it…Hope you can join us.



The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Foire Saint-Germain

Foire St Germain

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is Foire Saint-Germain.

There’s been an annual fair at Foire Saint -Germain in Paris since 1176, and with fairs come trade and produce.In 1482, Louis XI established the fairground for the benefit of the Abbey of Saint -Germain-des-Pres, located nearby. It was destroyed by fire in March 1762, but rose again from the ashes. The fair traditionally lasted from three to five weeks and was staged around Easter. During the 1700s it opened on February 3rd and closed on Palm Sunday. All kinds of exotic acts performed: tightrope walkers, animal trainers, marionette manipulators and more. It was also a great place for trading, bartering and ‘raffling’ of retail merchandise to the highest bidder, as recorded by Philip Skippon, a visitor to the Foire in the 1660s: “the place the fair is kept in, is a large square house with six or seven rows of shops, where customers play at dice when they come to buy things; the commodity is first bought, and then they play who shall pay for it. After candle-lighting is the greatest gaming, sometimes the king comes and dices…” This account of raffling as a social pastime (although we would recognise it today more as a form of auctioning) is corroborated by another Englishman abroad, Martin Lister, who wrote in 1697: “The great rendezvous is at night, after the play and opera are done; and raffling for all things vendible is the great diversion; no shop wanting two or three raffling boards. Monsieur, the Dauphin, and other princes of the blood come, at least once in the fair-time…” Today the Saint-Germain market is covered and is still on part of the old fairground site, hosting antique fairs, pottery days, and festivals.

Contribution to Retail History

Markets and fairs the world over were the precursors to modern retailing and Foire Saint-Germain is one such example. While it may not be feasible to draw a direct line between the raffles held at Foire Saint-Germain in the mid- 17th century and specific developments in retail, it is fair to reflect that the popularity of ‘raffling’ has, in the 21st century seen a surge in popularity with the advent of eBay.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

In Retail Conversation With…

David Roth In Retail Conversation with

It was great to do this webcast with Bryan. It’s packed with insights which would be helpful for anyone looking at how to be more successful for the holiday session 2014/5. Not that much planning time to go…scary.

8 Retail Trends In China – No 7. Gamification To Deliver Data


To Deliver Data Insight data is of course one of the most important and also complex keys to the retail castle. There are massive amounts available from ‘likes’ and ‘wants’ to shopping patterns and the Chinese consumer is constantly inputting data to social discussions, chats and review sites. However, for some time the burning question has been how to extract relevant and usable data for a brand. In the Year of the Horse, we foresee gaming will become a major part of the plan. Consumers in China love the novelty of gaming and we know they will provide information if asked. The ability to ‘gamify’ users’ experience with a brand to get the best quality consumer feedback has proved to be one of the most powerful forms of information gathering, and we expect to see this gain real traction and begin to drive brand behaviour. Social media has given us some insight into the users’ experience but none has engaged, connected or interacted with consumers in the way gamification has proved itself able to. There is no doubt that eliciting meaningful data is of the utmost importance in driving growth for brands and that gaming will play a key part in the process for smart brand owners and retailers.

8 Retail Trends In China – No 6. Prime Time For Local Luxury

Local Luxury

Luxury has been a common theme in china’s recent retail history. From the Chinese going abroad to buy, Hong Kong as a luxury goods market and every global luxury and premium brand finding a home in the ‘high streets’ and top class malls of China, luxury is seen as more than a status symbol; it is the evaluation of the elite and the definition of the ladder of success. The hunger for luxury is, indisputably, one of the most defining features of the rising middle class and new Chinese generation. It was only a matter of time before we saw the emergence of home grown luxury brands and we envisage them gaining traction in the Year of the Horse – the ability to mix national pride, artisan skills and high-end luxury is an unbeatable formula in China. In our opinion, this segment will take time to build as the mindset of ‘foreign = better’ is still entrenched but we nonetheless believe it will continue to grow and result in the formation of some very strong, innovative Chinese luxury brands. We expect to see these starting to assert their place in Chinese decadence and also emerging as global players within the luxury market. Having watched the creation of Chinese brands in the toughest of conditions locally, we have no doubt that if they can establish their presence overseas, they will significantly strengthen their position within the minds of local Chinese. This is a long road and the Year of the Horse will be an important staging post in the journey.

8 Retail Trends In China – No 5. Execute To Survive

In Store Execution

As success outside ‘traditional’ bricks and mortar retailers continues, we anticipate increased pressure on manufacturers to conjure up growth. This is most likely to be achieved through a combination of basic marketing principles and decreasing costs in the system which, in turn, will demand greater sophistication in retail execution and sales forces across China. However, this kind of expertise and culture is not developed overnight, and it’s reasonable to speculate that specialists in this area will start taking over from the distributors that typically undertake this function. This does not bode well for these distribution companies that, until now, have had significant power – handling everything from the book, to the movement of physical stock, to in-store dealings. All this has been done with very little visibility for the brand owner, but as growth was so good, everyone was happy. Now, with the slowing in retail sales, we predict that a laser-sharp focus will be on delivering growth at lower cost. What will this mean? More science in field sales operation, better technology to drive execution, and complete visibility for the brand owner in terms of what it is paying for. All of these demands present a very real problem for distributors that are currently not geared for this level of in-store implementation. Don’t be surprised if there’s a sudden growth of outsourced sales force specialists, and an increase in the standard of in-store execution as a consequence.

8 Retail Trends In China – No 4. Local Retailers Become Masters Of Their Own Universe

Local Retailers

You can safely assume that local retailers will continue on their path of extraordinary evolution to becoming world class. Undoubtedly, they will become more sophisticated in their deployment of systems, stricter in their management and begin to deliver better value than the international retailers currently fighting for market share inside China. Local retailers, either national or region-specific, are already starting to outstrip their international counterparts and in the Year of the Horse you can expect this to accelerate, with geographic expansion and increased output through existing sites. Local retailers already have the ability, through multiple means, to extract more profit from their locations, with the added advantage of ‘neighbourhood’ knowledge and connectivity. As they absorb elements of global retailing best practice, we forecast an ever-improving performance.

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