Retail shops are extremely important for charities. They are central in helping to raise money to support the cause. At Sue Ryder, it’s no different. They have over 450 shops operating across the UK. Each plays a significant role in supporting the charity. Retail accounts for 10% of Sue Ryder’s income, so the impact of having to close shops during lockdown was severe.
Reopening as quickly as possible was essential. It meant a lot of planning for Sue Ryder’s retail, and marketing teams. There were new regulations and responsibilities for volunteers and staff to manage to safely and effectively reopen their shops. Consequently, shops needed the ability to quickly and regularly change their store information and conform to new regulations.
It is vitally important that all the marketing collateral produced is on-brand and consistent. Charity shops are an important source of income. They are also an essential part of growing the charity brand. They are one of the most visible faces of the charity.
RightMarket’s platform had been available to Sue Ryder’s charity shops before lockdown, but it became even more essential after reopening. It made producing all the designs needed for each shop effortless for Sue Ryder. They already had the tools they needed in place.
Whether a charity has 5 or 500 shops, any marketing department's capacity is finite. With so many areas of a charity’s marketing needing attention, it is difficult to give all areas the time they deserve. We spoke to Helena Forrest, Marketing Manager for Fundraising & Income Generation about how RightMarket solves the capacity problem and how it simplified creating designs for all their retail shops.
Who are Sue Ryder?
Sue Ryder provides hospice and neurological care as well as emotional support to people with complex needs and life-threatening conditions across the UK. They treat more conditions than any other UK charity. They have over 3,000 staff and 12,000 volunteers based in 7 hospices, 5 care centres, and 450 retail stores across the UK.
An interview with Helena Forrest
The challenge of reopening retail
HF: Our main priority when reopening is making sure everyone from our volunteers, to our shoppers are always safe. Signage and collateral are really important, but Sue Ryder staff and volunteers have also done a fantastic job operating our shops safely.
One of the major problems the Retail and Marketing teams faced was tailoring designs for individual shops. Opening times, the safe capacity, and layout all vary from shop to shop. They are essential for safety in our shops, so it was important they were in place for reopening.
It would have taken a lot of planning and time if our designers were fulfilling all those designs. Even with a handful of stores, catering for the demand for designs would have been a struggle. With 450 shops, it's simply impossible.
On top of those designs, Retail also always needs a constant flow of display posters for offers and sales each shop is putting on. Our retail shops are a fantastic way for the public to support us. Consequently, it was important when reopening that we looked at ways to enhance our activities and messaging.
It’s a lot of demand on top of the work Marketing does supporting other areas of the charity. It has meant that RightMarket has been central to our reopening strategy.
It still amazes us that we have all these shops and they’re creating their materials locally. Having a platform that we trust to solve this has made a critical difference.
How has having an Online Design Centre helped retail during COVID-19?
HF: It’s been a huge time saver for Retail and Marketing! They need a lot of collateral. RightMarket’s platform has helped Retail design materials such as opening times, sales posters, special offers, furniture collection leaflets etc.
Rather than wait for their brief to be designed and sent to them, they can log in and create it themselves using the branded templates available.
The big advantage for everyone is that they’ve only had to ask Marketing for a small number of designs. RightMarket’s Online Design Centre has fulfilled almost all their needs!
All our shops are different in size. Some have different opening hours. There have also been different rules in our shops in Scotland and England. All these variations and changes have meant there has been no slowdown in the amount and range of designs retail has needed.
Supplying these signs is critical for legal compliance. RightMarket makes managing compliance simple. We are confident that all our shops are using the right material with the right information. It requires no intervention from Marketing.
Has adding Retail to RightMarket been worthwhile?
HF: Our retail operation is one of the largest in the charity sector with 450 shops. I can honestly say that even if we had 5 shops the time saving would be worth it. Our retail staff and volunteers are now empowered and responsible for the brand in their shop. No waiting, and no reliance on Marketing. It’s a wonderful experience for all involved.
It’s great to see how our Retail staff and volunteers are always finding new and interesting ways of using the templates available. RightMarket is helping in areas we had never anticipated. The flexibility the platform offers has meant users are experimenting with what they can produce. That has helped inform what new templates we need to add.
It still amazes us that we have all these shops and they’re creating their materials locally. Having a platform that we trust to solve this has made a critical difference. It’s fantastic the materials are also on-brand!
What impact has RightMarket had on your retail team?
HF: Quite honestly, it would be a nightmare without RightMarket!
The Retail team need a lot of collateral. Therefore, it would involve a lot of time and cost on all fronts. We simply can’t design it all. That would leave the staff and volunteers in the shops with no choice but to make it themselves with little support. It’s far from the ideal situation – nobody wins.
We need to be doing everything we can to remain open in the safest way possible for our staff, volunteers and customers. Simplifying the process of creating artwork for our shops is an easy way to protect the vital funds they bring in.
Using RightMarket isn’t just about finding a more efficient way to deliver the same artwork. It also opens the potential for entirely new things to be designed that would never normally be possible. Simply put, offering design flexibility means our brand is even more visible without any additional work needed. That sort of exposure isn’t possible with traditional processes. Importantly, RightMarket allows us to stand out and be more competitive on the high street.
The best part is hearing how everyone in our shops enjoy the autonomy RightMarket gives them. They’re responsible for making their shops look great for their local area and we simply give them the tools.
RightMarket allows us to stand out and be more competitive on the high street.
Sue Ryder's retail team empowered
RightMarket removed the pressure of producing hundreds of designs for Sue Ryder’s retail shops. It is now quick and simple for volunteers and staff at shops to produce their designs in minutes.
That means any changes to opening times, offers, social distancing restrictions etc. can be reflected in the store signage instantly.
RightMarket saves everyone time in Retail and Marketing. It means Marketing can focus on larger charity projects and campaigns and Retail have what they need instantly.
Shops are consistent and on-brand. Every Sue Ryder shop is instantly recognisable, and every sign and poster reflects the charity colours and style.
Retail staff and volunteers are empowered and responsible for the visual presentation of their shops and find new uses for the templates available to them on Sue Ryder’s Online Design Centre.
At an extremely uncertain period for charities and charity shops, RightMarket ensures the brand is never compromised, and shops always have designs on-hand.