Automation has been changing the face of the retail industry for decades. From the early days of factory-based robotics through to more recent developments like self-checkouts, chatbots and delivery drones, retailers have always sought ways to streamline their processes, get ahead of the competition and optimise the customer experience.
In this article, we’re going to explore some of the recent automation and technological trends in retail and consider what impact they’re having on the industry, workers and customers.
A till-free future?
Imagine walking into a store where you simply scan a QR code, choose your items and walk out – all without bypassing a checkout. Where a network of cameras and weighted shelves monitor which products you pick. Where payments are taken automatically and you receive a receipt via your phone later.
It seems like a bit of a fantastical concept, but it’s one that more and more leading grocers have been trialling in the UK over the last few years, with Amazon leading the way. The benefits of this approach include a lack of queueing, fewer out-of-stock items and reduced shrinkage. The downsides arguably include a reduction in staff numbers, and a level of technology and unfamiliarity that could be off-putting to consumers.
It’s this final point that perhaps explains why the UK’s path to a till-free future hasn’t been as straightforward as you might expect. When Sainsbury’s became the first UK retailer to launch a completely cashier-less store back in 2019, the trial only lasted three months before the company reinstated a manned till and two self-service checkouts. At the time, Sainsbury’s reported that while the new store format created excitement, “not all our customers are ready for totally till-free shopping”.
The company tried again in 2021, in a year that also saw Tesco and Aldi launch their own trials, but since then the widespread adoption of this new approach has stalled. Even Amazon, who pioneered the concept with their ‘Just Walk Out’ technology, halted plans for further expansion in 2022 and closed one of their stores earlier this year.
On paper, till-free shopping clearly has potential. But there’s a growing recognition that, as Sainsbury’s said in 2019, not enough customers are ready for it yet and that a hybrid approach with different types of checkout options is more appealing to the masses. Perhaps this will change as the younger generations that have grown up surrounded by this type of technology mature, but for the moment the idea of completely automated and cashier-less stores across the UK seems a long way away.
Creating an in-store experience
Even before Covid and the current cost-of-living crisis, the UK’s high streets were struggling. The ease and accessibility of online shopping means that retailers need to give customers additional reasons to venture out of their houses and visit a brick-and-mortar store.
Augmented reality (AR) is one of the technological innovations that some retailers have turned to in order to entice shoppers through their doors. AR works by superimposing a computer-generated image on top of what the user sees in the real world, with Snapchat filters and the popular Pokémon Go mobile game being some famous examples.
In a retail setting, examples of AR include the following:
- Virtual fitting rooms. These allow customers to try on items virtually without having to physically touch them, so that they can check the size, style and fit before buying. While the benefits of virtual fitting rooms in an online environment are clear, retailers like H&M are also installing them in their physical stores for added convenience, to support online sales and to build connections with customers.
- Augmented reality windows. These windows offer interactive experiences that help to entice shoppers into stores, such as this one that was created as part of the famous Harrods 2021 Christmas window display.
- Virtual navigation. AR navigation systems help to guide shoppers through physical stores quickly and effectively, while retailers can also use them to provide additional product information.
AR helps customers to try-before-they-buy more efficiently, it reduces customer returns, and it increases customer and brand engagement. And given that, according to data released by Shopify, retailers who add 3D content to their stores see a 94% conversion lift on average, it’s not surprising that more and more are expanding into the augmented reality space.
Geofencing is another approach that retailers are using to engage with customers. A location-based technology, geofencing allows retailers to create a virtual fence around a physical location (such as their store) using GPS, Wi-Fi or mobile phone data. Then, when customers pass into that area they can trigger targeted marketing such as a text, in-app notification or mobile advert.
It’s a clever way for brick-and-mortar retailers to deliver offers and deals straight into the hands of their customers, to create a personalised shopping experience by providing directions to products or reminders about regularly buys, and even to target potential customers that are shopping at a rival store.
AR and geofencing, along with more online-focused approaches and technologies such as gamification and the metaverse, are some of the main ways that retailers are seeking to create the immerse shopping experiences of the future. The challenge will be how to get the most out of these digital innovations while bringing their target audiences along for the ride.
Improving the bottom line
As well as customer-facing advancements, automation is also becoming increasingly common behind the scenes in the retail sector.
Many retailers are investing in software that more effectively manages stock levels, suppliers and orders, in order to streamline processes and reduce labour costs. Innovations like providing staff with handheld devices to take instant orders in a restaurant, to check sizes in a shoe store without having to leave the customers or to ring up purchases on the floor in a clothing store are also helping to increase efficiency and levels of customer service.
Electronic shelf labels (ESLs) have long been popular overseas, but they’re starting to be seen more frequently in the UK now too. A number of leading grocers have launched trials or rolled ESLs out to their estates recently, lured by the time- and cost-saving benefits of a system where prices can be changed at the click of a button.
Case Study: Morrisons
When Morrisons decided to trial replacing in-store paper price tickets with ESLs, they contacted us to discuss their requirements and the challenge of fitting an ESL to a conventional plastic data strip.
We developed a bespoke solution that would fit their shelves and hold their ESLs securely, which were then rolled out across the trial stores.
ESLs accommodate dynamic pricing and have space for more product information than paper tickets. Some ESL systems can even help to speed up the picking and packing process for online sales as they’ll provide an illuminated route for employees to follow.
However, despite their many benefits, the response from the grocery sector hasn’t been unanimous perhaps due to the prohibitive cost of implementing such a system across estates with hundreds of stores. While it seems likely that this type of technology will eventually spread across the UK, it might take some time before every store we walk into has electronic labels on the shelves.
21st century deliveries
One of the newest – and perhaps most intriguing – retail automation trends is robot delivery systems. Co-op has been spearheading the technology’s adoption in the UK, in partnership with US-based company Starship Technologies, and now offers autonomous delivery services in Greater Manchester as well as other key cities.
The main aims of delivery robots are to reduce traffic congestion and increase access to the company’s products and services. Orders are made through an app and customers can follow the progress of their robot delivery driver in real-time through an interactive map. While the service is still very much in its infancy, it’s expanding quickly and early results appear to be positive.
Delivery drones are another automated delivery service that has been gaining significant traction over the last few years. From Boots completing the first delivery of prescription medicines to Royal Mail trialling drone deliveries in the islands of Scotland, the infrastructure is slowly falling into place to create an environment for drones as a standard delivery service.
In fact, there’s currently a project underway (and backed by the UK government) to create the world’s longest automated drone ‘superhighway’ connecting the Midlands to the south-east of England. Project Skyway has brought together leading tech companies and industry experts to establish a safe path for commercial drones and provide a framework for further drone zones in the UK.
There’s a long way to go for both delivery robots and delivery drones, but what may have once seemed like science fiction is beginning to look more like reality. And it’s not inconceivable to imagine sharing the streets with fleets of robots and the skies with delivery corridors in the future.
It’s going to be fascinating to see where automation takes the retail industry next. While some of the technologies we’ve discussed in this article have run into stumbling blocks, or we’re unlikely to see widespread adoption any time soon, the potential of the ideas is undeniable. And the impact they’re having on the industry, customers and workers is going to continue to change the face of retail for years to come.
We’re delighted to announce that we’ve recently move into a new custom-built office and warehouse facility in the heart of the West Midlands.
Located on the outskirts of Evesham, our new buildings are a real investment in the future of Harrison. They give us an inspiring and collaborative space to work in, as well as room to expand as our company continues to grow and service customers around the world.
We’re looking forward to welcoming guests and clients to our new office, but in the meantime here’s a sneak-peak at what you’ve got to enjoy when you visit.
The ground floor is home to our hard-working product development, HR, IT, finance, purchasing and quality teams. As you can see, the new interior has a Scandinavian feel to it with lots of clean lines, natural woods, neutral colours, live plants and a calm, uncluttered design.
The ground floor is also where you’ll find our kitchen, the larger meeting rooms (including our boardroom) and a range of collaborative spaces. All of them have been fitted with the latest communication equipment to support regular meetings and close collaboration with our clients either in-person or digitally.
The first floor is where our marketing and sales teams are based. The Scandi-inspired design continues here, with floor-to-ceiling windows creating a light and airy space for our teams to enjoy.
There are ample further meeting rooms and collaboration spaces to be found, along with some pods for focused working.
There’s even a quiet little collaboration area at the top of the stairs, which probably boasts some of the best views in the office!
Behind the new office is our new warehouse, which provides plenty of room to hold our stock. There are also exciting plans underway to develop a showroom within the warehouse where we can showcase our products and services going forward. We’ll be sharing more information about those plans as they develop, so stay tuned.
We’re also pleased to say that the main power source for our new buildings are the solar panels on the roof, which will provide renewable energy alongside a back-up metered connection. Other energy-saving features such as lights that automatically switch off when rooms aren’t in use have been included inside, to help minimise the building’s impact on the environment.
And there you have it! The new Harrison HQ, where you’ll find both the Harrison Products and Harrison Retail teams hard at work delivering retail display products and services worldwide. To find out more about what we can offer you, get in touch with our teams today.
When you pop down to your local high street, you probably expect to see a mixture of clothing stores, coffee shops, homeware stores, banks, cafes and express supermarkets. But what about a garden centre?
It’s a sight that might surprise many of us, but it’s also one that’s starting to become increasingly familiar as part of the rapid growth of the garden centre industry over the last few years. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the reasons behind this growth and what the future might hold for garden centres in the UK.
Garden centres have been thriving
While the pandemic and associated lockdowns had a negative impact on the bottom line of many retailers, garden centres were quickly designated as ‘essential’ by the government and allowed to remain fully open (due to their positive impact on physical and mental wellbeing). This, combined with an influx of new customers who took up gardening during the lockdowns, helped to drive the industry to a value of approximately £3 billion in 2022.
Another contributing factor to this growth is how many garden centres have expanded their product and service offerings, establishing themselves as destinations rather than simply places that sell plants. Homeware, food, outdoor living, pets and gifts are just some of the additional sectors that many have expanded into, providing customers with a retail experience that’s more reminiscent of department stores than traditional garden centres.
Garden centres as lifestyle retailers
Embracing lifestyle retail is a smart move. With the loss of established names like BHS and Debenhams – and a staggering 83% of UK department store space shutting down for good between 2016 and 2021 – there’s a distinct gap in the market for retailers who can appeal to that lifestyle customer base.
Garden centres have a lot of advantages when it comes to filling that gap. They’re usually located in attractive, often rural, surroundings on the outskirts of towns and cities. They often have room for ample parking and retail expansion. And they’re generally easy to access. All of which combines to create the ideal environment for department store-esque shopping.
But what about those high street stores we mentioned earlier? What role do they play in the future of garden centres?
Garden centres on the high street
The company leading the charge is Dobbies Garden Centre, the largest garden centre retailer in the UK. Dobbies has 76 centres located throughout the UK and six of these are what they call ‘Little Dobbies’ stores. You’ll find them on high streets in major towns and cities, and they offer a unique, urban garden centre experience.
Case Study: Little Dobbies, Cheltenham
We were asked to design, produce and install bespoke display fixtures for the latest Little Dobbies store. The fixtures needed to match the look and feel of other Little Dobbies, while staying true to the aesthetics of the main estate.
The project had a tight turnaround as the fixtures were required by the store’s opening. We rose to the challenge and produced, supplied and installed 16 fixtures including the main customer till hub and coffee unit.
Speaking at the launch of the first store in Edinburgh, CEO Graeme Jenkins described it as featuring “gardening essentials for city centre residents” and showcasing “some of the extensive ranges available at our larger stores and at dobbies.com”.
With a carefully curated range of convenient houseplants, small space gardening products and home décor items on display, the stores are specifically targeting the needs of urban gardeners and acting as gateways to the full Dobbies’s range. It’s a different proposition to the larger stores, but still allows customers to make those aspirational lifestyle purchases. It also neatly addresses the growing popularity of houseplants, particularly among the younger generations, where social media sites like Instagram have proven to be a rich ground for gardening- and plant-based content.
Garden centres as the new department stores?
The question of whether garden centres have become the new department stores (or are on their way to becoming them) is a complex one to answer. But it’s interesting to note how department stores themselves and other leading lifestyle retailers have branched out into the gardening sphere.
The likes of House of Fraser, Selfridges and M&S all have gardening furniture, gardening tool and/or plant ranges. Next launched mini Homebase garden centres within six of their stores in the summer of 2021. And through Waitrose Garden, the John Lewis Partnership has a dedicated online garden centre to rival the traditional physical stores. It’s clear that the potential to merge homeware, food, clothing, furniture and more with gardening products is one that’s proving attractive to more than just garden centres themselves.
Time will tell what the future holds for garden centres and whether they truly will supersede department stores in the public consciousness. But given the vibrancy of the market, it’s a future that’s looking ripe with possibilities.
Want to find out more about our work with Dobbies?
Discover how we helped them to transform their flagship store
Customers come in all shapes and sizes, but there are certain common customer types that we can all recognise.
Understanding these types and how to engage with them effectively through your POS, retail displays, in-store sales approach, online presence and more can help you to encourage sales.
Customer profile: Researchers have put in the hard work online beforehand and come equipped with the knowledge they need to make an informed purchase. They’re less likely to spend time browsing as they’ve already identified the product or products that they’re interested in.
Engaging with them: As these customers often make their purchasing decisions before visiting a store, you need to engage with them as effectively as possible during the research stage. Make sure that your online product information is accurate, your prices are competitive and you’ve provided answers to common questions (e.g. through FAQs).
Customer profile: Showroomers like to visit stores in order to try products on or test them out, but they’re also price-conscious and may opt to buy online rather than in person if it means better value for money. This customer type will often use money-saving or price comparison apps in order to track down the best deal.
Engaging with them: With this type of customer, it’s important to make the purchase about more than just price and to emphasise the benefits of buying in store. The immediacy of an in-store purchase is a key win here, as are any additional in-store promotions that you may be running, so make sure your POS displays are impactful.
Customer profile: Browsers lack any particular reason for being in your store and are just looking around. It could be that something in the window caught their eye or they’re simply killing time, so they’re browsing without really intending to make a purchase.
Engaging with them: These customers should generally be left to their own devices as they’re effectively sight-seeing in your store. Converting them into paying customers can be a tricky task, but encouraging impulse buys by having dump bins or baskets in strategic locations could help.
Customer profile: Customers on a mission know exactly what product they want to buy and want the transaction to go as quickly as possible. They’re not looking to spend any longer in your store than they need to and won’t appreciate any deviations from their mission.
Engaging with them: These customers are likely to appreciate appropriate signage, logical store layouts and clear POS materials so that they can locate their intended purchase as quickly as possible.
Customer profile: As the name suggests, indecisive shoppers aren’t exactly sure what they want to buy or are struggling to choose one product over another. They can often lack the information they need in order to make that decision and can be overwhelmed by the number of options available.
Engaging with them: You can help this type of shopper by providing clear and accurate information about your products, both online and in-store. Use effective POS, shelf management products and displays to make the customer journey as smooth as possible, and be on hand to answer any questions they may have.
Customer profile: Bargain hunters have one main motivation: price. They want to feel like they not only purchased a great product, but got it at a great price too. Less loyal than other customer types, they’re willing to shop around in order to track down a saving.
Engaging with them: Customers that are driven by price can be difficult to engage with unless you happen to be able to offer the cheapest deal. One tactic can be emphasising the quality of your product and therefore its longevity, which will likely save them money in the long-run. Also, make sure that any promotions you’re currently offering are clearly displayed.
Customer profile: Regular customers are loyal visitors to your store. They visit you regularly, without any specific prompting, and respond positively to your products and services.
Engaging with them: These customers are the easiest type to engage with as they’re already invested in what you have to offer. Your existing POS materials, signage and display tactics are doing their job in appealing to this customer, so continue in the same vein and look for additional opportunities to make them feel valued.
Looking for innovative display solutions?
Contact our team today to find out how we can help
Over the last several years, sustainability in retail has grown from an important talking point into an essential part of every company’s strategy. It’s a change that’s been largely driven by consumer sentiment, with more and more modern customers not only wanting to buy sustainable products, but wanting to buy them from retailers with strong environmental credentials.
The pressure is on companies to respond to this change and embrace sustainability, but in a way that’s transparent, authentic and answers consumer needs. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at sustainability in the retail space, explore why attitudes have changed and investigate the steps retailers can take to become more sustainable.
How have consumer attitudes toward sustainability changed?
While there’s always been a subset of consumers that sought sustainable alternatives and favoured companies with strong ethical reputations, these sentiments have become significantly more mainstream in the last few years.
The 2022 Deloitte survey on consumer attitudes revealed that 64% of consumers had limited their use of single-use plastic in the last 12 months (an increase of 3 percentage points on 2021).
59% of respondents had reduced the amount of new products and goods they’d bought (+ 20 pp), while 40% had chosen brands that had environmentally sustainable practices/values (+ 6 pp).
Other areas of significant growth included opting for low carbon emission and/or shared modes of transport (30%, + 11 pp) and choosing brands that had ethical practices/values (37%, + 7 pp).
What makes this shift in attitude particularly interesting is that it may not have been a conscious choice for many consumers in the beginning. As the Deloitte survey observes, the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic saw people using transport less, shopping more locally and shopping more seasonally – all activities that led to a more sustainable lifestyle by default.
This trend of real-world events shaping customer behaviour continued in 2022, with disrupted supply chains and the cost of living crisis leading consumers to search for various creative ways to spend less.
For example, 53% of respondents reported that they had repaired or fixed an item instead of replacing it with a brand new equivalent one, and 40% had bought second-hand or refurbished items.
But whatever the reasons behind the shift in the consumer mindset, it’s clear that retailers are facing growing expectations from their customers that need to be addressed. However, while it’s easy to argue that retailers simply need to champion sustainability in order to respond to these expectations, the reality of the situation is a little more complicated.
What challenges are retailers facing in terms of sustainability?
Transforming a retail business into one that’s recognised and respected for its commitment to tackling climate change isn’t easy. Sustainability is often seen as a laudable but expensive goal, where significant upfront investments can take a long time to pay off, and some retailers may feel they’re not in a position to make such commitments.
The government is also taking an increasingly firm stance on the issue, launching several schemes that aim to encourage sustainability within the sector. However, the reaction from leading brands has been mixed, with many arguing that these schemes will lead to higher costs for retailers and consumers alike.
Then there are the consumers themselves. A recent report by Savills found that while 80% of consumers described themselves as environmentally friendly, 75% also said that they wouldn’t pay a premium for green products.
This paradox of intent versus actions when it comes to sustainability is one that’s commonly reported within the retail industry and leaves retailers in an unenviable position.
As does the fact that there’s clear scepticism from consumers around brand sustainability claims, which can too quickly lead to accusations of ‘greenwashing’ (where retailers make unsubstantiated and potentially false claims to portray themselves as environmentally friendly).
Savills found that 70% of consumers expected brands to do more about sustainability, but only around 30% believed that retailers would hold true to their sustainability promises.
Meanwhile, nearly half of Deloitte respondents said they didn’t know what information to trust when it came to a business’s sustainability claims (25%) or that nothing could influence how much they’d trust a business’s commitment to sustainability (21%).
So with these challenges in mind, what can retailers do to overcome them?
How can retailers champion sustainability?
With sustainability becoming such a critical issue in the industry, retailers big and small are launching forward-thinking initiatives, implementing impressive changes and committing to ambitious targets in order to reduce their impact on the planet.
Aldi will soon give customers the chance to recycle their used own label coffee pods at collection points, while Sainsbury’s recently launched cardboard laundry detergent packaging. The Perfume Shop has rolled out a new and improved perfume bottle recycling scheme across its stores nationwide, and Tesco has installed EV charging points at 600 stores over the last three years.
Add in the fact that the UK’s biggest supermarkets recently signed up to an ‘unprecedented’ collaboration in order to combat climate change, and it’s clear how seriously the retail industry is taking the sustainability challenge.
Of course, not every change needs to be a huge, headline-grabbing one. There are plenty of smaller steps that retailers of all sizes can take to embrace sustainability in a way that works for them:
- Track their current carbon emissions to identify hotspots
- Explore ways to make their supply chain more efficient
- Consider energy-efficient approaches, equipment and energy tariffs
- Switch to local suppliers
- Look into sustainable packaging alternatives (and reduce or remove packaging entirely)
- Offer a recycling or takeback scheme related to their products
Whatever actions retailers choose to take, communicating about their achievements is a key part of responding to the growing consumer interest in sustainability. The statistics we quoted earlier show that brands can often face an uphill battle in this regard – particularly with sectors such as fast fashion regularly facing accusations of greenwashing – but authenticity and transparency can go a long way.
Setting achievable goals and having the evidence to back up any claims that are made are other important factors to consider as they can add a further level of credibility. Retailers will often team up with an organisation like B-Corp, which measures and evaluates the environmental and/or social impact of a company’s activities, in order to obtain official recognition of their progress against their targets.
Being transparent, setting realistic goals, making statements that can be substantiated and partnering with an evaluator are all ways that retailers can help to overcome the doubts consumers may have around the authenticity of sustainability claims in retail.
How are we improving the sustainability of our business?
Here at Harrison, we’re proud to say that we’ve partnered with CarbonQuota to measure, reduce and certify our carbon emissions. We were recently certified as a carbon reduced operation, which is a great reflection of the steps we’ve taken to reduce the carbon footprint of our organisation.
We’ve also undertaken a series of assessments from EvoVadis as part of our commitment to continually improving our business practices and corporate social responsibility management. This led to us being awarded a Gold EcoVadis Sustainability Rating in 2022.
In terms of products, our sustainable range continues to expand. We’re increasing our use of alternative materials like cardboard, wood and organic fibres in our display products, and both our Ecovision and EcoPlastic ranges are due to welcome new additions in the near future.
We’re also developing a new closed-loop plastic takeback scheme for data strips and look forward to sharing more information about that service in the coming months.
Speak to a member of our team to find out more about what sustainable products and services we have on offer.
Achieving greater sustainability in the retail sector is going to take time. But with rising demand from consumers and growing commitment from retailers, there’s been a distinctive shift in attitudes within the last couple of years.
Positive changes can now be seen at both individual company levels and across the wider industry, and long may this trend continue.
It hasn’t been the easiest start to the year for the UK retail industry, with headlines dominated by store closures, grocery shortages and price rises, and the industry feeling the effects of a variety of ongoing world events.
But with a series of spring bank holidays just around the corner, along with Easter weekend and the coronation of King Charles III, are there reasons to feel more optimistic about the future of retail over the next few months? A recent survey commissioned by marketing agency Gekko and carried out by YouGov certainly seems to suggest so.
Bank holiday shopping is on the rise
Out of over 2,000 respondents, 13% (equivalent to approx. 9 million of the total UK population) reported that they were definitely planning to head to brick-and-mortar shops during the upcoming bank holiday weekends.
This percentage increased to 18% (approx. 12.4 million) for 18-34 year olds, giving retailers a great opportunity to increase sales and engage with a generation that could become valuable loyal customers in the future.
Another positive finding was that 19% of consumers said they were likely to spend more on a bank holiday weekend than an ordinary weekend (13 million people). While this should be balanced against the promotions and discounts that retailers often run over holiday weekends in order to generate greater sales, it still suggests there’s a welcome willingness from consumers to treat themselves this spring.
In fact, shopping came in as the fourth most popular bank holiday activity (21%) after going for a walk (45%), visiting family and friends (41%) and going out for a meal (25%). With traditional bank holiday activities also often including DIY and home improvements, it’s not surprising to see that DIY stores/garden centres ranked as the most popular shopping destination at 22%, followed by fashion stores (21%), homeware/furnishing stores (16%) and department stores (14%).
Consumers want a retail experience
Of course, having consumers willing to visit our high streets is only half the battle. Retailers also have their part to play in enticing shoppers into their stores, generating sales and creating the experience that modern consumers are seeking.
According to the survey, 60% of respondents said that a pleasant retail environment was an important part of a great retail experience, with a marked difference between women and men (67% and 53%). In addition, 59% wanted to see promotions and 42% wanted to be able to speak with knowledgeable shop staff.
These findings suggest that consumers are looking for more than simply straightforward monetary transactions, and that effective displays, eye-catching POS, thoughtful store designs and knowledgeable staff are all essential parts of the modern retail experience.
The future of shopping is social
The survey also found that the social and leisure aspects of shopping are becoming increasingly important for shoppers in general and for younger shoppers in particular.
45% of people reported combining shopping with a meal out (rising to 53% among 35-44 year olds) and 30% meeting with a friend for coffee/drinks while out shopping (rising to 40% among 25-34 year olds). The results were similar when consumers were asked about shopping for the home: 55% indicated they preferred shopping with friends and family in comparison to 39% who shopped on their own.
Those aged 18-24 were also the most likely to look for leisure options while out shopping (26% compared to 5% for the over 55s).
All of which combines to present a trend towards shopping as a leisure activity, where consumers can relax, socialise and have fun while purchasing the products they want. This will require retailers to think creatively, to engage with their customers and develop offerings that put the shopper at the heart of the experience.
The potential opportunity appears to be huge – and we’re perfectly positioned to help retailers make the most of it. Our talented Harrison Retail team is adept at transforming retail spaces, helping to create attention-grabbing window displays, and developing bespoke products for a multitude of POS and display purposes.
Looking for ways to maximise the impact of your retail space this spring?
Contact our retail team today!
CarbonQuota was originally launched to help increase the sustainability of production processes in the packaging and print sector. The organisation went on to develop one of the world’s largest independent databases of carbon emissions for the sector and the most granular carbon calculation engine.
We’ve appointed CarbonQuota to independently calculate the footprint of our operations and help us to achieve the international target for all organisations: reducing the footprint of our business (by 95%) and supply chain (by 50%) by 2030. It’s an ambitious aim and a complex undertaking, but we recognise the importance of minimising our environmental impact and we’re proud to say we’re already making positive progress.
Our latest CarbonQuota report shows that the CO2e emissions associated with our direct operations have reduced year-on-year, and we’ve therefore been certified as a carbon reduced operation by CarbonQuota.
In total, our carbon footprint decreased by 26 tonnes of CO2e between 2021 and 2022. One key area of improvement was with our electricity emissions, where changing our heating and lighting habits helped us to significantly reduce our output. The intensity of our CO2e emissions per million pounds of turnover saw a reduction of 17% during the same period, while there were also reductions per building footprint (m²) and per full-time employee.
CarbonQuota’s findings highlight how the efforts we’ve made to increase our energy efficiency and reduce our energy consumption are helping us to move towards our carbon reduction targets. We’re continuing to seek new ways to reduce our carbon footprint – such as our upcoming plans to bring our head office and warehouse together into one efficient, central location – and look forward to seeing the changes we’re making reflected in the data in the coming years.
Our Green Initiatives
We’re also continuing to champion sustainability across our business by changing our working practices, embracing innovation and pursuing sustainable solutions.
For example, we’re increasing the use of alternative materials in our product ranges, with display products made from cardboard, wood and organic fibres such as rice husk, corn starch and bamboo currently under development.
Our Ecovision and EcoPlastic ranges are also expanding to include a wider selection of sustainable products, while our famous Ecovision cardboard corr-a-clips continue to set the standard for recyclable display unit fixtures.
It’s great to see that our efforts to support sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint are beginning to show such positive results. Now that we’ve been named a carbon reduced operation, we’re eager to maintain this status and continue on our journey towards net zero.
 Carbon dioxide equivalent, the standard international measurement of carbon footprint.
 The CO2e emissions associated with our direct operations have reduced year-on-year (certified: CarbonQuota 2023).
 Our absolute operational CO2e emissions have reduced by 26 tonnes of CO2e from our baseline year (certified: CarbonQuota 2023).
 The intensity of CO2e emissions per million pounds of turnover associated with our direct operations have reduced by 17% between 2021 & 2022 (certified: CarbonQuota 2023).
1,830 exhibitors from 55 nations across 5 continents. More than 81,000 trade visitors from 141 countries*. EuroShop 2023 was a resounding success for everyone involved – including the Harrison team!
If you weren’t able to join us in Düsseldorf, here’s a quick recap of our EuroShop 2023 experience…
A Hard-Working Team
Our team spent a busy week meeting and greeting fellow exhibitors and stand visitors alike. As well as promoting our products and services, they made some great connections with retailers big and small, and expertly showcased Harrison’s offerings to a global audience.
Great work everyone!
An Eye-Catching Stand
Our stand provided the perfect backdrop for the team. Comprised of a central collaborative space, bold colours and displays for various products and services, the stand caught the eye of visitors and played an essential role in the EuroShop experience.
Industry-Leading New Services
We launched two essential new services on the stand in the fields of sustainability and procurement.
Closed-Loop Plastic Takeback Scheme
Through this scheme, we can recycle and repurpose your used price ticket strips into new products.
This enables you to not only reduce your plastic waste, but also support your sustainability goals.
Retaileze: The Simple Procurement Portal
Our bespoke online portals help to simplify and streamline the purchasing process for POS and display solutions.
These portals can be tailored to your individual needs, such as integrating your existing purchasing systems and processes, to create the ultimate procurement solution.
Exciting New Products
We also expanded our Ecovision range with a number of new sustainable products.
Made from alternative materials such as waste coffee grounds, organic fibres and wood, our new display products are leading the way when it comes to sustainability.
Sign holders, display blocks and ‘next customer’ bars are just some of the newcomers to the range to enjoy.
EuroShop 2023 may be over and the next one may not be taking place until 2026, but we’re still on hand to provide a wealth of POS and display innovations in the meantime, and to help you transform your retail space.
Find out we can support you
Contact our retail team today
* Data sourced from EuroShop.
The world’s number one retail trade fair is only days away now! Here’s a sneak-peak at what we’ve been up to behind the scenes, and what you’ve got to look forward to when you visit us at EuroShop…
Over the last several months, we’ve been working closely with our friends at Formation Live to design and perfect our stand for EuroShop 2023.
The final step is putting everything together, ready for when the fair opens on Sunday 26th February. Here are some behind-the-scenes shots of the Formation team bringing our stand to life, along with some renders showing what the final stand will look like.
Visit our stand at EuroShop and you’ll be one of the first to discover the new products and services that we’re launching exclusively during the event.
These products and services cover three key areas:
- Sustainability: Wood, ground coffee, and organic fibres. Find out how these unusual materials have been transformed into innovative and sustainable retail display products at our stand.
- Ordering: Our new service offers a bespoke solution for all your purchasing needs, providing a smooth and streamlined process. Check out the screen at our stand for a demonstration.
- Repurposing: Reducing your plastic waste just got a whole lot easier. We’ll support your sustainability goals with our brand-new, industry-leading service – speak to our team to find out more.
Products and services
Alongside our exclusive launches, we’re also showcasing a number of our products and services during EuroShop.
In terms of products, you can expect a selection of our most popular retail POS and display solutions. From wire dump bins and stacking basket sets to acrylic cubes and bay risers, these products offer a wealth of versatility and are suitable for a variety of retail scenarios.
Have a read of our Harrison at EuroShop: Discover our Products blog for further details about the products we’ll be promoting during the fair. You can also find out more on our EuroShop exhibitor profile.
In terms of services, we’ll talk you through how we can support your retail display goals within our four specialist areas: product design and innovation, bespoke and in-house manufacturing, warehousing and logistics.
Visit us at EuroShop
It’s not too late to book a meeting with our retail team during EuroShop! All you need to do is send an email to email@example.com and we’ll be happy to set up an appointment to discuss your requirements.
Or pop along to our stand (Hall 4, Booth 17) to explore the products and services we’ve mentioned in this article in more detail.
Book a meeting with us at EuroShop
Contact our retail team today
EuroShop 2023 is rapidly approaching and we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to preview some of the key products and services that we’ll be showcasing during the event.
Retail Wire Solutions
From metal hooks for suspending POS displays to dump bins for holding merchandise, we’re adept at producing high-quality wirework solutions quickly and efficiently.
Our wirework range encompasses various ceiling mounted and floor standing products, many of which offer a level of versatility and portability that make them perfect for the ever-changing retail environment.
Here are some of the wirework products that we’ll be showcasing during EuroShop:
Wire Dump Bins – Square & Rectangular
Wire dump bins, whether square or rectangular, are perfect for displaying products at the end of aisles or near checkouts.
The shelf can be adjusted to any height, catering for a variety of products, with the bins taking up to 30kgs (square) and 70kg (rectangular) in weight.
Wire Baskets with Wheels
Another way to encourage impulse buys is by using wire baskets with wheels.
These strong and convenient display solutions come with a range of useful features including adjustable height shelves so you can display any product effectively and castor wheels for easy relocation.
Stacking Baskets with Wheels
Our stacking basket sets with wheels allow you to maximise the visibility and accessibility of hard-to-stack goods.
These sets feature a sturdy frame that makes them ideal for holding numerous items, as well as a stackable design that can be configured to meet your requirements and wheels.
Acrylic Fabrication, Extrusion and Injection Moulding
We offer extensive acrylic fabrication, extrusion and injection moulding services and products, both via our in-house manufacturing facilities and our global production partners.
Our range includes shelf management products such as electronic shelf-edge label profiles, shelf risers and display racks, as well as counter display products such as sign holders and sign grippers. We also produce a range of bespoke solutions like acrylic cubes and bay risers.
Here are some of the acrylic fixtures and injection moulded solutions that we’ll be showcasing during EuroShop:
Electronic Shelf-Edge Label (ESL) Data Strips
Hold your ESLs securely along your shelf edges with our ESL data strips, available in a variety of lengths.
The strips are made from long-lasting, extruded material, providing both a reliable grip and a clear view of your products and ticket prices for customers.
Ideal for product ranges that include numerous small and hard-to-stack items, our acrylic cubes are the perfect display choice.
These cubes are strong, durable and made from transparent acrylic so that customers still have a clear view of every product. They’re also a great way to help particular products stand out.
Acrylic Bay Risers
Our acrylic bay risers will help you to display your soft furnishings and beddings with ease.
These risers not only hold soft products securely, but also free up shelf space as you can store items vertically. In addition, their curved design ensures customers can safely access your products whether stock is high or low.
We’re proud to champion sustainability at Harrison and many of our products reflect this ethos, particularly those in the Ecovision range.
Our current products include revolutionary cardboard Corr-A-Clips, with a selection of brand-new sustainable products launching at EuroShop, along with an exclusive, industry-leading service created to support our clients’ sustainability goals (more on both of those below).
Here’s one of the existing recyclable products that we’ll be showcasing during the show:
Ecovision® Cardboard Corr-A-Clip
The Ecovision® Cardboard Corr-A-Clip is one of Harrison’s leading innovations and the first of its kind on the market.
The clip consists of two pieces of recyclable and compostable cardboard, and can be used to construct FSDUs and Countertop Display Units.
Because it’s made from natural fibres, the clip decomposes within 90 days and can by recycled alongside the cardboard that makes up the unit.
This is just a snapshot of the products that we’ll be exhibiting at EuroShop. For further details, check out our exhibitor profile on the EuroShop website.
Exclusive launches at EuroShop
As mentioned above, there are a variety of exciting new services and products that we’ll be launching exclusively at EuroShop. Here’s a bit more about what you’ve got to look forward to when you visit our stand!
Do you want to be able to enjoy a greater selection of products made from sustainable materials? We’re expanding our range to include products made from alternative materials such as wood, ground coffee, rice husk composite, and more.
Looking for an easy and streamlined way to purchase POS products and display components? We’re launching a brand new service that can provide you with a bespoke solution.
Want to reduce your plastic waste? We’re also launching an exclusive, industry-leading service created specifically to support our clients’ sustainability goals.
We’ll be revealing more details about these services and products in the coming weeks, so stay tuned and keep checking back for updates!
To find out more about all of these exclusive new products and services, come along to our stand in Hall 4, Booth D17 or contact our retail team today on firstname.lastname@example.org to book a meeting during the show.
Book a meeting with us at EuroShop
Contact our retail team today
The world’s number one retail trade fair is back and here’s everything you need to know about the event.
From 26th Feb to 2nd March, exhibitors and visitors from around the world will travel to Düsseldorf for EuroShop 2023.
The fair has quickly become a key event in the calendar for Harrison. This year we’ll be showcasing some of our latest products and services, so why not come along and find out more about what we can do for your business?
|Dates||26th February – 2nd March 2023|
|Daily opening hours||10:00am – 6:00pm|
|Ticket price range||EUR 20.00 – 140.00|
Harrison at EuroShop
At Harrison, we provide complete store solutions that are tailored to your unique requirements. From product design and fabrication through to stock-holding and direct-to-store deliveries, we offer a flexible and bespoke approach from start to finish.
We offer four main services:
- Product design and innovation: We use the latest technology to design, model and prototype solutions.
- Bespoke and in-house manufacturing: We develop and fabricate a range of bespoke retail and merchandising solutions.
- Warehousing: We provide a stock holding service that ensures clients have the parts they need, when they need them.
- Logistics: We offer a global and time-critical pick, pack and shipping service.
You can find further information about these services in our retail brochure.
Some of the key products we’ll be exhibiting at EuroShop 2023 include:
- Electronic Shelf-Edge Label (ESL) Data Strips: These data strips keep electronic shelf-edge labels in place, helping retailers to switch to digital pricing.
- Ecovision® Cardboard Corr-A-Clip: This recyclable and compostable display component can be used to construct free standing display units (FSDUs) and countertop display units.
- Acrylic Shelf Risers and Dividers: These products prevent items from slipping off shelves and are available in a variety of lengths and widths.
- Wire Dump Bins – Square & Rectangular: These bins can be used at the end of aisles or near checkouts to capture the attention of customers and encourage impulse purchases.
- Stacking Basket Sets and Wire Basket with Wheels: Our baskets are ideal for storing and displaying a wide range of products, and can be tailored to requirements.
- Table Sets: Our bespoke table sets are customisable by colour and finish, and can be used to create eye-catching promotional displays.
- Acrylic Cube: These cubes are ideal for showcasing small, hard-to-stack products throughout a retail space.
- Acrylic Bay Risers: These risers keep soft furnishings and bedding secure, while also ensuring they remain easily accessible.
- Pallet Card Holder: These holders are designed to fit A3 inserts and can be used to prominently display point-of-sale (POS) promotions.
The Harrison stand can be found in Hall 4, at booth D17, and EuroShop has released a handy floorplan to help with navigation.
Why not beat the queues and set up a meeting with us in advance?
Simply email our retail team at email@example.com to schedule a meeting with us whilst you’re at EuroShop.
At EuroShop, exhibitors can network and demonstrate their offerings, while visitors can explore the latest in retail trends and developments. For 2023, the eight key product categories are as follows, with the ones that we’ll be showcasing marked in bold:
- Shopfitting, store design and visual merchandising
- Materials and surfaces
- Retail technology
- Retail marketing
- Expo and event marketing
- Food service equipment
- Refrigeration and energy management
The event programme
As well as exhibitor stands, EuroShop 2023 features a packed programme for visitors to enjoy.
Top-class speakers will take to the various stages built throughout the exhibition halls to discuss the latest insights. Dedicated areas will be set aside for discussions on innovative trends and idea generation, while award ceremonies will recognise excellence in the industry.
Registration and buying tickets
Tickets for EuroShop 2023 are available now; simply register on the EuroShop website to choose your preferred ticket type and duration.
You can also add extras to your order, such as a parking ticket or premium Wi-Fi access.
As the premier event in the global retail trade fair calendar, EuroShop 2023 represents an unmissable opportunity to network with companies like us, explore the latest innovations and discover cutting-edge products that will drive businesses forward.
Book your meeting with us today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and find out how we can help you to get the most out of your retail spaces.
Book a meeting with us at EuroShop
Contact our retail team today
Here at Harrison, there are two sides to our business: Harrison Products and Harrison Retail. As the name suggests, Harrison Products provides a wide variety of display components, fixtures, fittings and more to customers across the retail industry. But what about Harrison Retail?
In this article, we take a closer look at our dedicated retail brand and what bespoke services and solutions we can offer some of the biggest global brands.
Who we are
At Harrison Retail, we provide complete store solutions. From product design and fabrication through to stock holding and direct-to-store deliveries, we work closely with clients from start to finish to maximise the potential of their retail spaces.
Innovation and creative forward-thinking lie at the heart of everything we do. We combine this ethos with a flexible and tailor-made approach to create bespoke solutions that frequently surpass client requirements and expectations.
Our dedicated team of retail specialists, product designers and account managers is complemented by two UK warehouses, an acrylic fabrication site, a head office support team and distribution hubs in both Europe and America.
What we offer
Here are the four key services that we offer our clients:
1. Product design and innovation: Our clients want creativity that stands out from the crowd and designs that cleverly answer their retail display requirements.
We use the latest software and technology to design, model and produce prototypes for solutions that perfectly meet client needs. As well as creating life-like visuals and 3D renders of fixtures in clients’ stores, we can produce soft tools for bespoke fixtures that can be used in store trials.
2. Bespoke and in-house manufacturing: Our clients want completely bespoke concepts and designs that are produced quickly and to any brief.
We use our experience in the retail sector, along with our in-house manufacturing capabilities and talented design team, to produce innovative retail and merchandising solutions. These manufacturing capabilities include acrylic fabrication, injection moulding, extruding, and wirework.
3. Warehousing: Our clients want a stock holding service that’s reliable, easy to access and provides an uninterrupted supply stream.
We hold stock of popular client items in our warehouse facilities in the UK, Europe and America. This stock can be called off at any time to meet project timescales and delivered swiftly.
4. Logistics: Our clients want a pick, pack and shipping service that’s quick, versatile and efficient.
We use our dedicated distribution hub and warehouse operatives to provide a global and time-critical service. We can pre-assemble retail displays, deliver directly to store and even dispatch orders to multiple destinations.
Who we support
We’re proud to have worked with some of the UK’s biggest retail brands:
- Dobbies: We designed and developed innovative displays, storage solutions and more for the Dobbies flagship store. Read our Dobbies case studies.
- B&Q: We helped to refresh the look and feel of B&Q’s home furnishing areas nationwide.
- Homebase: We provided wirework to Homebase stores across the UK to help improve the shopper experience.
- Aldi: We aided Aldi’s switch to electronic shelf-edge labels with our unique shelf edge rails.
- Morrisons: We used our wirework expertise to develop a bespoke baked goods display solution for Morrisons.
- Dunelm: We developed a way for Dunelm to display sample fabrics for a more tactile customer experience.
Meet us at EuroShop 2023
EuroShop, the world’s number one retail trade fair, is taking place in Düsseldorf, Germany from 26th February to 2nd March 2023. We’ll be among the exhibitors and you’ll find us in Hall 4, booth D17, where we’ll be showcasing an exciting range of new services and products.
As well as stopping by our stand during the event itself, you can book a meeting with us in advance by emailing our retail team at email@example.com. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet our team and find out more about how Harrison Retail can support you.
Book a meeting with us at EuroShop
Contact our retail team today
Hear from Harrison product designer, Charlotte Bush, on creating a fabric sample holder for national retailer, Dunelm.
Just two months into my product design career with Harrison, I started work on a project for one of our regular customers, the homeware retailer, Dunelm: could we product a more economical solution to display pillowcases for customers to touch and feel the fabric? A very specific challenge that required a quick solution to accommodate an upcoming campaign.
We’ve worked with Dunelm for several years and we’re often asked whether we can improve a particular product to solve a particular problem or to design something innovative for a section of their store. However, taking this project from concept to shelf in just a matter of months wasn’t to be an easy task!
Providing the ideal solution…
That said, solving problems was one of the reasons I chose a career in product design; after establishing that I enjoyed maths and being creative, it seemed like the perfect fit! After some quick development, our solution was an injection moulded product that could securely hold fabrics of varying thickness (ideal for bedding, curtains, and linen); was easy to assemble and use; would fit securely to shelves; and could prominently display product information using a Harrison barker, as you can see in the yellow prototype below:
Introducing the new Fabric Sample Holder
We launched our Fabric Sample Holder in January 2022, just five months after receiving the initial brief. Currently being used in 157 Dunelm stores, with plans of a nationwide roll-out to all 170 sites, we’re all really pleased the project has been such a success. And hearing the CEO likes our solution, too, especially as it displays more material for customers to touch and feel (ideal for a retailer with such an enormous range of fabrics!) is very exciting.
I really enjoy being a product designer at Harrison; being presented with a problem and designing a solution, and then seeing my creation on the shelves in a national retailer is enormously rewarding. There is never too much time to ponder, however, as it’s on to the next design project to ensure our customers’ products are impossible to miss!
By Charlotte Bush
Product Design Lead
A First-Class industrial design and technology graduate, Charlotte joined Harrison in 2021 as a technical designer following periods designing for a consumer electronics company and working at a product design consultancy designing for entrepreneurs and SMEs.
After just seven months of creating POS products at Harrison, Charlotte was promoted to product design lead, and working alongside three other designers, spends her day either thinking of solutions to customers’ POS problems, enhancing our current products or expanding our product offering by designing new innovative products.
Keen to explore the possible cost-saving benefits of replacing in-store paper price tickets with Electronic Shelf Edge Labels (ESELs), Morrisons sought a solution to securely hold their digital price labels in place on the shelf.
Morrisons contacted Harrison in 2019 to discuss their requirements and the challenge of fitting an ESEL to a conventional plastic data strip. Our product development team visited the York store to observe the solutions their team had already tried such as mounting a secondary ESEL data strip to a paper data strip, quickly realising a bespoke solution was required.
A winning combination
After many months of store visits, and designing and testing possible options, we presented a solution that would securely fit store shelves and hold their ESELs. Bingo!
Seven stores and counting…
A trial of the new ESEL data strips commenced, beginning in the York store and rolling out to six other stores including Thornbury, Camden and Wood Green.
Product Development Manager, Douglas Cook, is excited to see Morrisons roll out the new data strips, and says, “Our bespoke data strips hold ESELs in different areas of their stores including produce, ambient, Market Street, refrigerated, BWS, and petrol fillings stations. Each area required different solutions, which we’ve designed and and improved over the last two years.
“I feel enormously proud to work with the product development team to create a unique solution to a problem. ESELs are commonplace in European retail stores, but the UK has been a little slow to adopt the digital technology which enables dynamic pricing to be controlled centrally from a head office location, saving a considerable amount of time and money in store.”
Morrisons will continue to trial the ESEL data strips throughout 2022 to determine the precise cost/time-saving benefit of digitising all price tickets in their 500+ stores.
Boost your PoS with Harrison
Interested to see how Harrison can help enhance your in-store PoS? Browse our case studies and see how we’ve helped B&Q, Homebase and Co-Op elevate their shelf appeal.
We are on a mission to be the brand that stands for our planet so we are always looking for ways to expand Our Green Promise even further. It is with great excitement that we announce the launch of our healthier plastic solution, EcoPlastic.
We understand that plastic is a vital material throughout the industry. That’s why we want our plastic to be healthier for the environment.
Using a modified plastic polymer, our new range of 100% recyclable EcoPlastic components are able to biodegrade at a significantly accelerated rate compared to alternative plastics if they accidentally end up in landfill conditions.
Not only does our EcoPlastic break down faster, it actually breaks down into natural compounds rather than microplastics like many other biodegradable materials do.
We know that there is a lot of green washing surrounding biodegradable plastics but here at Harrison we believe in transparency; our EcoPlastic is not compostable so does not require special conditions in order for the material to biodegrade and can be processed through standard plastic recycling streams.
It’s time to make the switch to a healthier plastic.
Head over to Our Green Promise page for more information and to start browsing our new EcoPlastic product range.