Remarkable Retailers

The British Independent Retail Association (BIRA) and Vend have announced the UK’s most innovative stores, chosen for their outstanding contributions to local high streets and innovative approach to retail.

In a campaign called Remarkable Retailers, 14 stores across Britain were handpicked from a list of over 1,000 for their unique approach to customer experience and the way they use technology to help their high streets thrive.  
Stores include pop-up concept store, Soden Style in Berkhamsted, which is owned by Giftware Review columnist, Emma Holbrook, giftware store and craft workshop Cositas in St Albans and arts and souvenir outlet, We Built This City in London’s Carnaby Street.

Soden Style is a concept store with an ethos influencing everything it does – from how products are stocked to the way that the business is run. Every item that Emma chooses to sell has an interesting story, meaning customers have an opportunity to purchase something unique. Soden Style caught attention for its ‘pop-up’ approach, offering products that respond to the ‘look of the moment’, and closing again between trend cycles.

Founded in 2017 by Emma Bustamante, Cositas stood out for its dedication to the customer experience. Born out of a desire to bring creative skills to the local community, the store is famous in St Albans for its regular craft workshops. Everything from screen printing to lampshade making is on offer, making the store a shining example of the ‘retail-tainment’ model which is revolutionising the high street.

In London, We Built This City was notable for its ‘artist takeover’ initiative. The store lends its windows to local artists for three months at a time so that they become a live ‘canvas’, as well as hosting workshops that enable customers to design their own unique products. The store also uses technology to boost productivity, awarding the staff time to focus on making the shopping experience memorable and fun.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, added: “The 14 Remarkable Retailers we’ve selected in partnership with Vend innovate to stay ahead of economic and cultural trends, whether that’s in the customer experiences they offer, the goods they sell or the way they use technology. All of the retailers are inspiring examples to the wider sector and demonstrate the amazing things that small retail businesses are capable of.”

Higor Torchia, UK Country Manager at Vend, said: “Each retailer’s use of cloud-based software allows them to manage inventory on-the-go, as well as run clever reporting analytics that gain insight on customer loyalty and what’s selling well. It means the retailers have more time to focus on creating winning formulas to ensure that local high streets can thrive.”

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