Category Archives: Retail & E-commerce

The power of learning: Rugby HR business partner offers career tips during Learning at Work Week 2024

An HR business partner from Rugby is sharing his career story during Learning at Work Week 2024 (13th-19th May) to celebrate the career progress they’ve made thanks to the lifelong learning programmes at Amazon.

Learning at Work Week is an annual programme run by the charity Campaign for Learning. The charity works with organisations around the UK to create activities and fun challenges in the workplace to help employees learn and grow.

 

This year’s theme, Learning power, explores how lifelong and continual learning gives people power to change, grow and achieve individual, team and organisational goals.

Ieuan Spanswick, who works at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Rugby, has used Amazon’s development and training opportunities to shape his professional career.

 

One of the programmes Ieuan has taken part in at Amazon is Amazon Career Choice. The programme, which has been running at Amazon for the past decade, pre-pays up to 95% of tuition and fees for courses in high-demand fields, up to £8,000 over four years, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

Courses available include accountancy, HGV driving and software development, and are designed to help employees build careers at Amazon or elsewhere. It means that eligible employees are given the opportunity to gain the skills and qualifications needed to follow their career aspirations.

 

Ieuan, who used the programme to help secure their role as an HR business partner, has shared their story to encourage others to take their career to the next level using the Amazon Career Choice programme.

Hailing from Hengoed, South Wales, Ieuan is an HR business partner at Amazon in Rugby. He joined the company five years ago and was part of the team that opened the Rugby site.

 

Before joining Amazon, Ieuan studied Psychology at the University of Cardiff. During this time, he worked part-time in retail, where he moved into a full-time role for a year after graduating to save and move abroad.

Ieuan spent three years living abroad – first in Australia, where he worked in a variety of roles including farming in the outback, as well as in bars and restaurants. He then moved to Brazil for two years, where he taught English. It was after his teaching job that he decided to come home. He said:

“When I got back to the UK after living abroad, I knew that I wanted to get into HR and saw an opportunity with Amazon. I knew there’d be no better place to start my HR career than at one of the biggest companies in the world.”

 

Ieuan completed the HR CIPD Level 5 certification through Amazon Career Choice. He said:

“Career Choice is an excellent offering by Amazon and it really helped me progress in my career. I started in a very ground level HR role before taking a step-up role to HR partner level. While in this step-up role, I started my Career Choice course. Since joining Amazon, I’ve completed two step-up roles and gotten two promotions. I’ve advanced multiple levels in my career thanks to the Amazon Career Choice programme.”

Ieuan added: “I would like to continue taking on new responsibility and further career progression beyond my current role and would love to go on and complete my HR CIPD Level 7 certification at some stage through another training programme we have here – the Amazon Apprenticeship programme. This is the most advanced HR CIPD course there is and would be the equivalent to a postgraduate master’s degree.”

“I also love that in my job I can help others to develop their careers,” Ieuan continued. “I’m involved in the training, upskilling and mentoring of lots of great people at Amazon, which can be really rewarding. I would encourage any one of my colleagues to try Career Choice. If you’re engaged and eager, you should definitely get involved.”

 

Amazon also provides opportunities to improve existing skills or learn new ones through internal career progression opportunities such as apprenticeships, transferring to a different department and promotion to a managerial role.

Amazon Rugby Site Leader, James Pitt, added: “We are proud of Ieuan’s success through the Amazon Career Choice programme. Career development is at the core of our culture at Amazon, where lifelong learning is promoted at every turn. Many of our team members have taken part in Career Choice and are now fulfilling their potential on Amazon teams all over the UK, Ireland and further afield. Others have gone on to successful careers elsewhere, and we are proud to have supported them in their professional development by giving them extra tools for success in their new roles. We look forward to offering employees even more choices in the future as Amazon Career Choice evolves and grows.”

 

Amazon employees receive competitive pay and comprehensive benefits. Pay starts at a minimum of £12.30 per hour in Rugby and employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package, including private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount as well as a company pension plan.

Amazon has been named as a ‘Top Employer UK 2024’ by the Top Employer Institute, one of the world’s most prestigious certifications in the field of human resources management. This award recognises Amazon’s commitment to the development and well-being of its employees. In addition to the UK accolade, Amazon has also been certified as one of the Top Employers in Europe for a second consecutive year.

In 2023, Amazon ranked in second place on LinkedIn’s Top Companies list — an annual list that identifies the most sought-after places to work and grow your career in the UK. Using data from LinkedIn’s 900 million members, LinkedIn’s Top Companies list is designed to help professionals identify the best companies to grow their careers.

 

To find out more about a career with Amazon, visit Amazon Jobs.

 

The power of learning: Amazon Swindon employees offer career tips during Learning at Work Week 2024

Two employees from the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swindon are sharing their career stories during Learning at Work Week 2024 (13th-19th May) to celebrate the career progress they’ve made thanks to the lifelong learning programmes at Amazon.

Learning at Work Week is an annual programme run by the charity Campaign for Learning. The charity works with organisations around the UK to create activities and fun challenges in the workplace to help employees learn and grow.

This year’s theme, Learning power, explores how lifelong and continual learning gives people power to change, grow and achieve individual, team and organisational goals.

 

Bharat Arya (pictured above) and Cristina Oprea (pictured below), who work at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swindon, have used Amazon’s development and training opportunities to shape their professional careers.

One of the programmes Bharat and Cristina have taken part in at Amazon is Amazon Career Choice. The programme, which has been running at Amazon for the past decade, pre-pays up to 95% of tuition and fees for courses in high-demand fields, up to £8,000 over four years, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

Courses available include accountancy, HGV driving and software development, and are designed to help employees build careers at Amazon or elsewhere. It means that eligible employees are given the opportunity to gain the skills and qualifications needed to follow their career aspirations.

 

Bharat, who used the programme to help secure his role as a waste coordinator, and Cristina, who did the same for her role in HR, have shared their stories to encourage others to take their career to the next level using Amazon Career Choice.

Bharat joined Amazon in 2018 in a temporary role before taking up a permanent position in 2019.

 

“Before joining Amazon, I worked in a fast-food restaurant in Coventry. I wanted a change, so in 2018 I joined Amazon in Coventry as a temporary employee. I really enjoyed my job and was impressed with working there, so when I heard there was a new fulfilment centre opening in Bristol, I moved there in a permanent problem solver role,” Bharat said.

“I really like the flexibility of Amazon and how you’re always supported for whatever you need. You’re encouraged to take up a role and tasks that suit your skill set, and this was really helpful for me.”

 

Bharat moved to the Swindon fulfilment centre when it opened in 2021 and was promoted to waste coordinator. Since then, he has completed the Natural Resources and Training Group (NRTG) Environmental Field Skills programme through Amazon Career Choice. The course provides participants with in-demand environmental monitoring field knowledge and skills. He’s currently taking part in his second Amazon Career Choice qualification, this time in environmental management. He said:

“I graduated from Coventry University with a degree in environmental law, so I was really interested when the NRTG course became available to me through Amazon Career Choice. It’s really helped me in my current role and has given me the confidence and opportunity to develop further within Amazon or move externally into a new role.

“Amazon pays 95% of the course fees, which is amazing, and means you can complete a course that you might not have done otherwise. I’m currently completing the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) Environmental Management Certificate, which is a globally recognised qualification that teaches me how to implement effective environmental management systems. If I didn’t work at Amazon, I would have to fund this all myself.”

 

Speaking on what’s next for him, Bharat said:

“After I complete this course, I hope to keep developing and gaining more knowledge. I also hope to keep applying for more environmental development programmes to further my career.”

 

Bharat has some advice for his colleagues looking to develop their careers:

“Definitely go for Amazon Career Choice. It helps boost your confidence, build your career and opens up more job opportunities. Amazon never restricts anyone and will always help you to pursue the career you want.”

 

Christina Oprea – Amazon BRS2 Swindon.

Swindon-based Cristina Oprea works in the HR department at the Amazon fulfilment centre in the town. She initially joined the picking department at the Amazon Daventry fulfilment centre in 2016 after moving to the UK from Moldova.

When Cristina joined the company, she was impressed with the employee benefits on offer. A particular opportunity that stuck out to her was Career Choice. She said:

“Before moving to the UK, I wanted to become a doctor but couldn’t afford the price of tuition. I applied instead to study English and French and spent some time as a teacher at the end of my degree. When I moved and joined Amazon, I really liked the thought of working in HR, so I applied for Career Choice. Within that time, a job in HR came up in so I applied for that too. I was successful with both applications and went on to complete my HR CIPD Level 3 and Level 5 certifications while taking on a new position.”

“The programme is fantastic,” Cristina continued. “It gives Amazon employees the opportunity to complete a course in something they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford or would never choose to do outside of work. Amazon is so supportive and encourages those of us who complete Career Choice to take our new skills into new chapters of our careers. The course doesn’t have to be relevant to the job you’re already in. You get to decide the terms and do something for yourself, investing in your own future, which I really like.”

 

Cristina met her husband Aleksandar working at Amazon, and the pair now have two children – four-year old Gabriel and two-year old Elena. Aleksandar is currently completing an RME Mechatronics Apprenticeship through the Amazon Apprenticeship programme. Cristina added:

“Working at Amazon has changed my family’s life. Both Aleksandar and I are currently developing in our careers, which wouldn’t have been possible without the opportunities we’ve been given through Amazon Career Choice and Amazon Apprenticeships.”

 

Speaking on what’s next for her, Cristina said:

“I would love to go on and do another course in the beauty industry or something similar. I have also always dreamed at having a pet hotel. I like that in Amazon I am encouraged to reach for my dreams, no matter how big or small they are.”

 

Amazon also provides opportunities to improve existing skills or learn new ones through internal career progression opportunities such as apprenticeships, transferring to a different department and promotion to a managerial role.

Amazon Swindon General Manager, David Tindal, added: “We are proud of Bharat and Cristina’s success through the Amazon Career Choice programme. Career development is at the core of our culture at Amazon, where lifelong learning is promoted at every turn. Many of our team members have taken part in Career Choice and are now fulfilling their potential on Amazon teams all over the UK, Ireland and further afield. Others have gone on to successful careers elsewhere, and we are proud to have supported them in their professional development by giving them extra tools for success in their new roles. We look forward to offering employees even more choices in the future as Amazon Career Choice evolves and grows.”

 

Amazon employees receive competitive pay and comprehensive benefits. Pay starts at a minimum of £13 per hour in Swindon and employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package, including private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount as well as a company pension plan.

Amazon has been named as a ‘Top Employer UK 2024’ by the Top Employer Institute, one of the world’s most prestigious certifications in the field of human resources management. This award recognises Amazon’s commitment to the development and well-being of its employees. In addition to the UK accolade, Amazon has also been certified as one of the Top Employers in Europe for a second consecutive year.

 

In 2023, Amazon ranked in second place on LinkedIn’s Top Companies list — an annual list that identifies the most sought-after places to work and grow your career in the UK. Using data from LinkedIn’s 900 million members, LinkedIn’s Top Companies list is designed to help professionals identify the best companies to grow their careers.

To find out more about a career with Amazon, visit Amazon Jobs.

New report exposes the Grocery industry’s personalisation paradox: Anticipation vs. implementation

In an era where consumers expect personalised digital shopping experiences, a report launched from Dynamic Yield, by Mastercard, sheds light on the evolving landscape of grocery retailing.

Titled “The State of Personalisation Maturity/CPG” the report unveils critical insights derived from a comprehensive survey conducted across 12 countries and four global regions with responses from personalisation stakeholders in the c-suite and senior and middle management, covering marketing, business development, and growth functions.

The research reflects the growing anticipation within the grocery industry as 76.5% of customers express frustration when deprived of tailored digital shopping experiences. Moreover, with industry analysts forecasting a doubling of grocery eCommerce penetration from 11% to 23% in the next five years, brands are increasingly turning to personalisation to meet consumer demands, boost margins, elevate basket sizes, and foster customer loyalty.

However, amidst this optimism, the report exposes a disparity between recognition and action in implementing robust personalisation strategies. Despite acknowledging its potential, grocery and CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) brands struggle to make necessary investments in cultural shifts and evolved mindsets necessary for successful execution.

 

Key findings from the report include:

  • Recognition of the potential of personalisation programs, yet inadequate investments in cultural evolution and mindset shifts.
  • Diverse expertise incorporation but a lack of dedicated primary business resources hindering synchronisation in executing personalised strategies.
  • Challenges in implementing a scalable personalisation framework due to limitations in comprehensive testing and inadequate communication of testing outcomes.
  • Reliance on anecdotal decision-making hampering the development of a clear audience strategy for a competitive edge.

 

The report categorises companies into four maturity levels—Absent, Basic, Advanced, and Pioneer—based on signals such as culture, resources, processes, and effectiveness. It emphasises the criticality of a unified approach encompassing quantifiable business goals, talent allocation, streamlined processes, and data-driven strategies for optimal personalisation maturity.

Further analysis unveils insights specific to each signal:

 

Signal 1: Culture

  • Brands struggle to bridge the gap between recognising the value of personalisation and effectively implementing it. 80% view personalisation as a priority, yet significant portions have yet to allocate necessary resources. 
  • Two thirds of companies plan to invest further in this field, however previous approaches need to evolve in order to drive tangible testing and personalisation efforts.

 

Signal 2: Resources

  • Lack of dedicated business operators hampers strategic cross-departmental deployment, impeding the scaling of personalisation teams across business units. However 88% of surveyed businesses have built cross functional teams, so now is the time to scale these up!

 

Signal 3: Processes

  • Organisational approaches hinder a scalable framework, with limitations in comprehensive testing and the age-old issue of data utilisation posing challenges in optimising strategies. According to the report although 86% use different data sources to fuel personalisation strategy, 52% have identified sources but have yet to fully action them. 

 

Signal 4: Effectiveness

  • Brands often implement projects without a clear strategic direction, favouring short-term wins over long-term effectiveness (59% of respondents said they set campaign specific KPIs without informing the long term strategy).
  • Despite recognising the importance of audience strategies, alignment with broader business strategies remains a challenge for many, with a fifth (21%) failing to align personalisation strategies with the overall business strategy. 

To learn more visit https://www.dynamicyield.com/personalization-maturity/grocery/

Despite 69% embedding Click + Collect into shopping journeys, new research shows that 79% of Brits feel it’s time the experience evolves

  • Opportunity for retailers to usher in new era of Click + Collect as UK shoppers don’t hold back on disappointment and demands for greater convenience

24 April 2024: Despite clear consumer appetite for Click+Collect – a service designed to be faster, more convenient, and more affordable than home delivery – a survey* released today reveals that 79% of Brits believe the offering needs improvement.

The research – conducted by UK-based Clix Technologies, startup pioneers of mobile-first technology solutions for retail businesses – showed that over two-thirds (69%) of UK shoppers are embedding Click + Collect into their shopping journeys, attracted mostly by the convenience factor (24.9% use it to get items quicker) and money-saving opportunities (28.9% use it to save money on home delivery charges).

However, there is more work to be done, because behind the positive numbers lies a worrying trend for retailers: the results show 82% have chosen home delivery over Click + Collect purchases over the last 12 months.  Features of Click + Collect that are putting shoppers off include poor store proximity (31%), queues (23%), inconvenient opening hours (14%), and shared screen technologies (7%).

With the immense growth of ecommerce, partly spurred by the pandemic, customers’ desire for online/offline integrated shopping models such as Click + Collect has accelerated. Overall, a huge 85% of respondents were receptive to using it more if the experience was right.

Specifically, respondents said they’d use Click + Collect more if:

  • they were able to collect outside of normal store hours (25%)
  • they didn’t have to wait in a queue to collect goods (16%)
  • there was a dedicated store collection point (12%)

 

Matt Cater, Co-Founder of Clix Technologies, says the findings send a clear message to retailers:

“It’s certainly positive to see new evidence that British consumers are keen to embed Click + Collect into their shopping journeys, particularly as the model offers retailers so many benefits. When implemented well, retailers are seeing reduced costs, more efficient staff deployment, increased store footfall and better customer satisfaction. However, there is clearly room for improvement across the retail industry, and adoption rates could be far higher if shopper convenience was given more consideration.

“This new insight shows that while there is a healthy desire for improved Click + Collect journeys, only 11% currently choose the service at every opportunity, proving that there is remarkably high growth potential for those retailers ready and willing to embrace the clear appetite from consumers. Retailers must evaluate the overall experience of Click + Collect, accommodate today’s tech-savvy consumer expectations, and offer the fast, convenient, and seamless experience that consumers now expect.

“This can be achieved by implementing innovative and emerging technologies, such as frictionless mobile-first, cloud based systems, which eliminate the pain points of clunky, legacy Click + Collect experiences,” he concludes.

 

*About the Survey:

The research was carried out online by Research Without Barriers – RWB. All surveys were conducted between 27th February and 5th March, 2024. The sample comprised 2,004 UK adults. All research adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2023) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research. RWB is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (2018)

 

About Clix Technologies:

Clix is a dynamic tech business that makes innovative and consumer-focused Smart Lockers. The main aim of Clix and the Vault OS operating system is to take the fuss out of click and collect. With a ‘mobile-first’ ethos, we’re putting the future of retail convenience in the customer’s hand. Our pioneering custom built software is revolutionising the way stores, and their customers look at the click + collection retail experience.

 

Retail industry calls for more government recognition as JD Sports chair says “retail taken for granted”

LIVE: Retail Week x The Grocer kicked off on Tuesday (12 March) morning with JD Sports chair, Andy Higginson, addressing the dynamic nature of the retail industry, noting its resilience and adaptability, and the government’s role in supporting the sector.

“The role of retail is one that the government should welcome” he said at the event.  “We employ a lot of people everywhere, up and down the country. We are in every town and every city. We don’t need subsidies; we are happy to compete on our own and just get on with it. What we ask them to do is play their part and create an economic framework that is positive and progressive and provides a level playing field.

“I think, generally, retail is taken for granted. We are huge contributors to the tax system, which is completely disproportionate to the size of the industry. In addition to that, we employ a lot of people.

“It’s a business’ job to work with whichever government is elected, so we’re all looking for a responsible government that will support businesses.”

Across two days, 150 speakers from some of the biggest names in retail and FMCG debated issues including the role of AI in retail, how the industry is adapting to hit key sustainability targets, and what the country’s biggest retail employers are doing to create great places to work.

Amazon’s UK country manager, John Boumphrey, discussed the transformative role of robotics and generative AI within a keynote session at LIVE, and how they were positively impacting its retail workers through enhancement rather than replacement.

He said: “As well as transforming existing warehouse jobs, robotics create new jobs and these are highly skilled roles. The fear suggested by someone who started down this path was that robotics would replace people. In fact, the opposite has happened.

“Robots have enhanced the lives of workers, not replaced them, and I’m confident that in a few years’ time we’ll be able to say the same thing about the impact of generative AI.”

Boots UK chief marketing officer, Pete Markey, spoke about Boots’ mission, along with menopause awareness company GenM, to better cater to the more than 15 million women in the UK currently experiencing the menopause.

He said: “Our mission has been to be with our customers through every bit of the journey of life. That includes the menopause. Most of our team members are women. 85% of our advantage card holders are women, as well. So, this is an important life moment that we knew we needed to lean into.

“Working with GenM, we’ve developed this new way of signposting where a shopper can get products if you’re going through the menopause. We’ve piloted that in about 150 stores with over 1,000 products. The key bit has been making those products more visible and more accessible.”

And Morrisons’ people director, Charlie Field, Waitrose’s head of retail operations, Peter Finegan, and The Works’ head of profit protection, David Pardoe, debated what retailers can do to drive productivity amidst challenges such as unpredictable costs, unhappy employees and constrained budgets.

LIVE concluded on Wednesday (13 March) afternoon with an interview between Primark’s CEO Paul Marchant and Retail Week’s editor-in-chief Charlotte Hardie looking at the fashion retailer’s plans to invest £100 million in new and existing UK stores during its 50th year in Britain.

Meanwhile, a generative AI powered dashboard that is helping retailers including FatFace and Next to improve staff mental health and prove the value of their wellbeing strategies has been launched by retail industry charity the Retail Trust at LIVE this year.

The new ‘happiness dashboard’, built in partnership with a handful of leading retail employers and the Retail Trust, allows employers to track staff wellbeing trends and improve the effectiveness of support. It also shows each employer exactly how much initiatives to improve mental health are saving their business and the economy, by calculating the financial value of fewer staff calling in sick, working while unwell, quitting their jobs or turning to the NHS as a result.

Retail Week’s editor in chief, Charlotte Hardie and The Grocer’s editor Adam Leyland launched LIVE: Retail Week x The Grocer on Tuesday, marking the first time Retail Week has collaborated with The Grocer to produce an event for people working in retail and FMCG.

Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer, told delegates: “Teaming up with Retail Week isn’t just about two sister publications collaborating. The fact is that retailers can’t meet the many challenges out there without working with their suppliers.

“The cost of-living crisis, net zero, health and obesity, the biggest issues in our society, require a collective effort. And, of course, there’s so much these two huge industries have in common even in areas where they’re not working directly together, tackling issues like diversity and inclusion, social mobility and social media.”

Facing shocking levels of violence at work – yet not paid enough to live on: 57% of UK retail staff say their wages barely cover basic expenses, despite many working more hours than ever

  • Study finds that UK shop workers are faring much worse financially than European counterparts
  • One in ten use food banks and nearly a third rely on friends and family to help with living expenses
  • 43% are clocking up more hours than they ever have – rising to 60% for those in wholesale roles

Following the release of the British Retail Consortium’s Crime Survey 2024 Report, revealing a 50% rise in abuse and violence aimed at shop staff, new data shows that more than half of UK retail workers say their wages barely meet even basic living costs – despite many putting in longer hours than ever to keep up with inflated expenses.

Frontline staff across several industries, including retail and wholesale, were polled in the pan-European study by workforce management experts Quinyx.  Four in ten UK retail employees (43%) said they’re working more hours than they ever have in order to meet increased living costs and support their families. For those in wholesale jobs, this rises to 60%.

Pointing to a significant financial disparity between retail staff in the UK and those in other parts of Europe, UK employees were much more likely to say their wages barely cover living costs (57%) than their counterparts in The Netherlands (31%), the Nordics (33%) and Germany (39%). For wholesale workers, the gap is even greater – 57% of UK staff, compared to 18% in The Netherlands, 22% in the Nordics and 27% in Germany say they can barely afford basic living expenses.

Despite a third (33%) of retail staff receiving a pay rise last year, 10% said they’d had to use food banks, while 29% had to accept financial support from friends and family to cover basic costs.

Toma Pagojute, chief HR officer at Quinyx, says: “The British Retail Consortium’s findings are shocking, and while no amount of pay would make the current situation acceptable, the fact that many retail staff are barely scraping by financially seems like another insult.

“If there’s a positive to take from the BRC report, it’s that it is shedding greater light on retail crime and encouraging action to make frontline workers safer. We hope it also brings opportunities to review employees’ experiences as a whole, considering all factors that can affect their mental and physical health.

“Pay is part of that, particularly as we’re still facing higher interest rates and increased living costs. In addition to any legislation brought in regarding customer behaviour and staff protection, employers should always consider the wellbeing of their workforce and look for ways to help frontliners feel less stressed, overwhelmed and overworked. This might be through flexible scheduling or improved communications – and generally making staff feel like they matter and their contributions are valued.”

Lidl named UK’s best supermarket and M&S back in fashion at the Retail Week Awards, sponsored by Salesforce

Beloved for its ‘midl’ aisle, ironically cool own-brand socks and sliders, and top-notch in-store bakery, Lidl is now officially the UK’s best supermarket after taking the top gong at a glittering awards ceremony in London tonight – the first time it has beaten fellow German grocer Aldi.

And, after years of failing to impress fashion-focused customers, Marks and Spencer – which saw its holiday clothes and jeans fly last year – impressed the critics enough to reclaim its ‘Fashion Retailer of the Year’ crown.

Lidl and Marks and Spencer were two of 19 retailers celebrating last night at the Retail Week Awards, sponsored by Salesforce, where hundreds of the industry’s biggest names gathered to compete for an array of accolades.

Lidl’s win comes hot on the heels of an amazing year for the supermarket when 1.4 million more UK customers entered its doors and it reported an 18.8% increase in sales, to £9.3 billion. It’s now the third-largest supermarket in London, overtaking Asda and gaining ground on Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

 

Hanna Jackson, managing director at Retail Week, said: “The Retail Week Awards judges – made up of leading retail CEOs – complimented Lidl on building an incredible business in the UK. Customers are loving the quality and innovation of its food offering as well as – of course – its incredible prices. It is also playing a very clever game in attracting Gen Z shoppers with the aim of keeping them as loyal customers for life.”

Meanwhile, Marks and Spencer has enjoyed a phoenix-like resurgence in fashion following a decade of decline, boosted by the sale of customer-friendly, third-party brands including Sweaty Betty, Nobody’s Child and Sosandar. The retailer reported an 11.5% increase in clothing and home sales, to £3.7 billion, last year.

“M&S has completely overhauled its fashion credentials, thanks to co-chief executive officer Katie Bickerstaffe’s transformational strategy for the divisions,” added Hanna Jackson, managing director at Retail Week. “Its influencer-led social media strategy has really paid off, as has the way it’s brought third-party brands into the M&S family and aligned itself with celebrity fashionistas like Sienna Miller, Zawe Ashton and Sophie Ellis-Bextor in its advertising campaigns. 

“More – and younger – customers are back buying clothes at M&S. It’s a very worthy winner.”

Ryan McDonnell, CEO of Lidl GB, said: “We’re thrilled to be named Grocer of the Year, an especially poignant accolade with 2024 marking our 30th anniversary in Great Britain. When the doors to our first store opened back in 1994, our promise was simple, offer customers great quality food at unbeatable value, and this commitment still stands. Big on Quality, Lidl on Price isn’t just a brand slogan. It’s a promise that epitomises what our business stands for, and encapsulates our commitment to social responsibility and sustainability which is core to our DNA. Over the years, this has helped contribute towards a significant change in the way that British households shop for their groceries.”

Richard Price, managing director of clothing and home at Marks and Spencer, said:We’re thrilled to be recognised as Retail Week’s Fashion Retailer of the Year. The team has worked incredibly hard to elevate style perceptions while continuing to offer product that is exceptional quality and value. Lots to be cheerful about while lots still to do and so much to go after in the year ahead.” 

There was also recognition for Tesco, which was named ‘Best Retailer Over £250m’ and is still the UK’s biggest supermarket, Primark, which was named ‘International Retailer of the Year’ in recognition of its aggressive and successful programme of store openings in North America and Europe over the last 12 months, and Amazon, which won the Consumer Choice Award, as voted for by the public, for the seventh year running.

Walmart’s former president and CEO Judith McKenna was awarded ‘Outstanding Contribution to Retail’ for her meteoric rise to becoming one of the world’s most influential retailers and Sainsbury’s chief executive officer Simon Roberts was named Salesforce Retail Leader of the Year’ for what the Retail Week Awards judges described as an ‘ego free’ style of leadership that makes him ‘a pleasure to work with.

Hanna Jackson, managing director at Retail Week, added: “Under Simon’s leadership, he’s addressed the retail giant’s slumping market share, guided it through Covid and the cost-of-living crisis by putting food back at the heart of the business.  

“He’s a people-focused leader who prioritises culture. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been difficult decisions as Sainsbury’s has looked at how to ensure sustainable growth, but he epitomises modern leadership that prioritises purpose.” 

Judith McKenna said: “I am honoured to receive this award and to be recognised by an industry that I love. 

“Over my 30-year retail career I have met many people in retail and beyond who have supported me. It’s been an enormous privilege here in the UK at Asda and internationally with Walmart to work with so many amazing colleagues and leaders who have taught me so much and shared their love of retail with me. I owe a debt of gratitude to each and everyone of them. 

“To be the first female leader to receive this award is particularly poignant as we approach International Women’s Day so I’d like to take the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the contribution of all the brilliant women who work in retail, on the sales floor, in supply chain, in head offices and in boardrooms right across the globe. This one is for you!” 

The Retail Week Awards have been recognising and rewarding the efforts of retailers and retail workers for nearly 30 years and this year’s judging panel included some of the most respected names in the industry, ranging from WHSmith’s chief executive Carl Cowling to White Stuff’s chief executive Jo Jenkins.

Wednesday night’s ceremony came ahead of the UK’s leading retail gathering LIVE: Retail Week x The Grocer which is taking place from 12 – 13 March at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London.

EE, Currys and Majestic Wine among other Retail Week Award winners

EE also claimed a top spot for ‘Best New Store’, thanks to its new Studio store in Westfield London which features a host of new experience zones including a gaming area, smart home zone and a digital spa” where customers can use technology to detox from their screens.

Currys was awarded ‘The Green Initiative’ for recycling and harvesting thousands of products and parts, its “Cash for Trash” programme which offers customers a voucher worth at least £5 when old tech is recycled, and for its work providing refurbished white goods and devices to low-income families.

And Majestic Wine won The Microsoft Award for the Happiest Place to Work, in partnership with the Retail Trust. The specialist wine retailer conducted its largest-ever staff listening programme last year to create new employee forums to improve communication across the business.

Retail heroes celebrated 

Other individuals and teams from across the retail industry were celebrated for leading their businesses and communities during the last year, including Pet’s at Home’s regional operations director Lucy Bain, who was awarded ‘The American Express Inclusion and Diversity Hero’ for her work, which includes attracting more employees with diverse characteristics, including from more diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Life saver Bobby Storey, from sofa and carpet specialists, ScS, was awarded ‘Delivery Hero’ after spotting a gas leak in a customer’s home.

And the team at Homebase in Catford won ‘the Community Heroes award’ for their work supporting local schools, fire brigades, police, and parks across south London.

Navkinder Sanghera, AVP retail, consumer goods, travel, transport and hospitality at Salesforce UK, added: “The Retail Week Awards nominees and winners represent all that is great about the industry, with individuals and teams demonstrating innovation and resilience despite continued disruption and an uncertain economic outlook. We’re seeing brands embrace technological shifts and remain laser focused on staying connected and delivering on the high expectations of today’s customers.” 

The Retail Week Awards 2024 winners:  

THE AMERICAN EXPRESS INCLUSION & DIVERSITY HERO/HEROES AWARD – Lucy Bains, regional operations director, Pets at Home

THE BEST NEW STORE AWARD – EE

THE BEST RETAILER OVER £250m – Tesco

THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE GAMECHANGER AWARD – Holland & Barrett

THE CONSUMER CHOICE AWARD – Amazon

THE COMMUNITY HERO/HEROES AWARD – Homebase, Catford 

THE DELIVERY HERO/HEROES AWARD – Bobby Storey, ScS

THE FASHION RETAILER OF THE YEAR AWARD – Marks and Spencer

THE GREEN INITIATIVE – Currys

THE INTERNATIONAL RETAILER OF THE YEAR – Primark

THE MICROSOFT AWARD FOR THE HAPPIEST PLACE TO WORK IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE RETAIL TRUST – Majestic Wine

THE OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO RETAIL AWARD – Judith McKenna, president and CEO, Walmart International

THE RELEX SOLUTIONS RESPONSIBLE RETAILER AWARD – Cook

THE SALESFORCE BEST RETAILER UNDER £250m – Jollyes

THE SALESFORCE RETAIL LEADER OF THE YEAR AWARD – Simon Roberts, CEO, Sainsbury’s

THE SAP HEAD OFFICE HERO/HEROES AWARD – Team Fusion, Ann Summers

THE SOFTSERVE GROCER OF THE YEAR – Lidl

THE SPECIALITY RETAILER OF THE YEAR – HMV

THE STORE HEROES AWARD – Beckton store team, Currys

Circle K drives sales and service excellence to 14,000+ Frontline Staff through new immersive game based training solution ‘Customer Star’ by Attensi.

Circle K has successfully launched a scalable game-based training solution, with a virtual 3D Circle K  store to train frontline staff to achieve their customer service and sales goals.

From the benefits of making eye contact to recognizing opportunities for upselling, the game focuses  on building core sales and service standards across Circle K to help them achieve their mission of  “making customers lives a little bit better every single day.”

[Sales Reps] “can get an idea of what a good response is and what’s a great response to a situation – it  steers them towards best practice. In stores where more employees have certified, we’re seeing an increase in customer happiness as it relates to increased employee engagement in the program.”

Jens Rye, Director People Development Europe 

The game features customer interactions and realistic scenarios in a virtual 3D Circle K store. The  game provides a fun yet challenging experience, allowing the “players” to play through realistic  scenarios in the game that they can transfer to the real world. The learning journey covers the  customer experience from beginning to end including:

  • Working in store – focused on service fundamentals and maintaining a pristine store
  • Shining on the till – opportunities for tailored recommendations in the sales cycle
  • Feeling the pressure – combines sales and service excellence to elevate customer experience
  • Knowing your customer – challenges players to make tailored customer recommendations

‘Working in store’ and ‘Shining on the till’ are free-roam modules that give users an interactive, more  holistic experience – immersing them in realistic scenarios that will help them to notice opportunities  for upselling, different customer behaviors and how they can balance their customer service duties  with operational functions.

Customer Star has been rolled out to 14,000 staff. The results are impressive:

  • 96% of the knowledge gap closed
  • 97% of team members enjoyed this way of training
  • 93% would recommend this training to a colleague

“Even though I’m experienced in Circle K, I got the answer wrong several times. I thought it was  helpful as it made me rethink and see different solutions and opportunities. You learn more about  seeing the possibilities in each customer and fulfilling their needs… After ‘Customer Star’, I really do  feel I can deliver exceptional customer service.” Kristian Bertelsen, Store Manager Circle K. 

Assistant Store Manager Sarah Larson adds, “I thought ‘Customer Star’ was a fun way to learn and a  new way to learn. I loved the beat-your-boss competition. I actually beat my boss.”

With such positive feedback and outstanding results, Circle K is excited about the future of game based training. The next steps involve refining and expanding the ‘Customer Star’ program, ensuring  continuous growth and development for their teams.

About Circle K:  

Circle K is one of the most recognized convenience store brands in the world, known for its quality  products and excellence in customer service. First established in 1951, Circle K continues to expand  and grow its customer base around the world.

About Attensi: 

Attensi is a global leader in game-based training solutions with offices in Oslo, London, Cologne,  Stockholm and Boston. Their products and services, including their AI driven Creator Platform, are used by some of the most successful brands in the world across retail, hospitality, pharmaceuticals,  financial services, automotive and more. Established in 2013, Attensi solutions are making an impact  in over 150 countries around the world.

The next Danish invasion is live

First came the Vikings. Then came ‘hygge’. Now, the next Danish invasion of the British Isles is here: Retail – and the conquest is being led by the likes of Flying Tiger Copenhagen and Søstrene Grene, who are doing it in an innately Danish way, mixing authenticity, community, and Hybrid Retail-technology.

Recently, Deloitte determined that 2023 would be characterized in the UK as “a defining year […] as retailers took their first steps towards deploying Generative AI and other technologies at scale”.

In fact, Deloitte highlights the merging of digital and physical into Hybrid Retail as a vehicle for new consumer experiences in 2024[1]. A movement led by Danish e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers.

Authenticity is the new retail currency

Some 10-15 years ago, Scandi-noir became part of the British vernacular, as ‘The Killing’ had become the best Danish UK export since bacon. A large part of the appeal was the character Sarah Lund’s authenticity.

Since then, authenticity has only gotten more popular among Brits. In fact, 3 out of 4 UK shoppers today say that authenticity makes them more loyal to brands, and more than half of consumers agree that retailers who use so-called ‘Direct-to-Consumer’ technology are more authentic[2].

“The success of retailers in the UK like Flying Tiger Copenhagen is not just about price or location; it is about them being authentically Danish. Authenticity is the new retail currency, and they make the most of it. This is reflected in the in-store experience, but even more in the way they embrace Hybrid Retail and use live shopping to engage with customers directly”, explains Sprii’s Intl. Sales ’Director, Macdara Duncan.

Community Retailing turns communication into conversations

However, authentic Scandi-noir-vibes is not the only Danish consumer experience conquering UK-retail in 2024. The Danish concept of hygge also remains a primary driver of community.

New Hybrid Retail technologies, such as live shopping, make it possible to tap into Community Retailing and create a sense of belonging through personalized engagement and authentic shopping experiences[3]. Team Lead Marketing Performance Sara Gammelgaard from Flying Tiger Copenhagen adds:

“We embrace where we come from. Danish culture is a big part of the Flying Tiger Copenhagen-experience. You see it in our shops across the globe, and you feel it, when you connect directly with our employees during a live shopping event. Here, we can integrate our physical and digital retail spaces and create an environment, where communication turns into conversations and customers into communities”.

[1] Source: https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/retail-trends.html

[2] Source: https://fashionunited.uk/press/fashion/authenticity-is-now-a-key-new-driver-of-revenue-and-loyalty-for-uk-shoppers/2023032868690

[3] Source: https://retail-focus.co.uk/why-local-retail-communities-are-important-and-how-retail-design-can-encourage-community-retailing/

Temu Achieves MASA Certification, Reinforcing Commitment to User Security and Privacy

Temu, which advertised at the Super Bowl for a second year running, announced it has received the Mobile Application Security Assessment (MASA) certification following an evaluation by DEKRA, the world’s largest independent expert testing organization. The certification is a part of Temu’s efforts to uphold the highest security and privacy standards for its users.

MASA certification was launched in July 2022 by the Google-launched App Defense Alliance (ADA) as a program to improve application security through third-party independent security assessments. The goal is to ensure the safety of Google Play and the broader Android ecosystem and to provide more transparency to consumers. DEKRA is one of six Google Authorized Labs that conduct this security assessment.

The MASA framework sets forth a rigorous set of security guidelines designed to protect mobile applications against the latest cybersecurity threats. The certification process involves a detailed examination of an app’s data handling, encryption practices, authentication mechanisms, and compliance with industry-standard privacy protections. By adhering to these stringent standards, Temu demonstrates its commitment to safeguarding users’ personal and financial information by enhancing user data protection beyond Google Play store security requirements.

 

Key areas assessed by MASA include:

  • Data privacy and security within the app.
  • Use of strong encryption for information protection.
  • Access control to ensure only authorized user entry.
  • Security of data during internet transmission.
  • Minimal and necessary permission requests from devices.
  • Validation of all incoming data to prevent security breaches.
  • Restriction on other apps accessing secure features.
  • Frequent updates to address security vulnerabilities.

In a statement, a Temu spokesperson expressed the company’s proactive approach to security: “We submitted the Temu app for MASA certification as part of our continuous effort to improve on user privacy and security. We want to assure our users that they can shop with confidence, knowing their data is protected by the best practices in the industry.”

The MASA certification is the latest in a series of measures taken by Temu to enhance its transparency over its security and privacy practices. Previously, Temu collaborated with the San Francisco-based cybersecurity company HackerOne to establish a bug bounty program, incentivizing ethical hackers to identify and report security flaws in Temu’s system. Additionally, Temu implemented two-factor authentication to enhance the security of user login procedures.

Other apps that have undergone independent testing and received the MASA certification include Walmart, Google, YouTube, Instacart and Otto. 

Here is the link to Temu’s MASA certification.