Heike Blank

Heike has held executive positions for international multibrand & multichannel organisations for 10+ years. With a focus on brand retail and retail partnering, Heike has worked in 25+ countries and now uses this vast experience to support brands in successfully developing and bringing to life their international distribution strategies.

How to Improve Your Hit Rate and Make Good Use of Bestseller Potential

When brands need to reshape their portfolio and close stores, they face the challenge of improving Like-4-Like performance at the remaining points of sale. The two product strategies introduced here help improve the top and bottom line of your P&L.

Improving like-4-like performance often focuses on mechanics and triggers that can be influenced by sales staff and a retail organisation. Surprisingly, it often excludes an honest evaluation of the assortment’s performance. This article shows how improving hit rate and using best seller potential can push sell-through, create incremental sales potential, reduce mark-downs and improve the gross margin. (more…)

Culinary Treats & Shopping

The way to a customer’s heart is through their stomach! Culinary treats have the potential to increase conversion rates and average ticket size for retailers. Success isn’t guaranteed, but these factors significantly reduce the risk of failure.

More and more retailers, shopping centres and cities invest in new, attractive and unique food and beverage concepts. These concepts often differ in level of integration between culinary treats and shopping.

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Partner Retail Transparency

Everything you should know about your potential partner retailer’s business and how to get the information you need.

There are many reasons why it makes sense to conquer a market through reliable retail partners. Besides the shared risk, lower investment and faster growth, you may want to benefit from your partner retailer’s deeper understanding of the market – the local players, dynamics (e.g. real estate and channel development) and consumer behaviours – before opening your own retail stores. (more…)

Retail Portfolio Management: Store Staff Performance

While excellent staff and service are what distinguishes brick and mortar from online retailers, staff performance is often overlooked in store evaluations. Two new KPIs help account for the human factor.

When evaluating a retail portfolio, very often mangers only look at the financial results of a store. But excellent service, competent and dedicated sales staff are a key differentiator of brick and mortar retailers. A fair and objective store staff performance evaluation is therefore increasingly important. This article introduces two new KPIs that help to fairly evaluate staff performance and to determine optimal staffing for each store in your portfolio.

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Retail Portfolio Management: Renegotiating Your Rental Contracts

This is the second installment of a short series that dives into a few uncommon KPIs for successful retail portfolio management. Learn how traffic cost and footfall per hour can help you renegotiate rental contracts.

For many years, retail expansion was the main growth strategy in the brand retail world. More recently, however, brands increasingly face an under-performing retail portfolio. Realising that retail expansion doesn’t work without like-for-like growth of existing stores, brands are busy assessing their retail portfolios in order to focus on profitable stores and stores with potential for improvement.

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Retail Portfolio Assessment: The Good Ones Into the Pot, the Bad Ones Into Your Crop

What tools are available to help brands choose their most promising retail locations, and identify the not so promising ones? Let’s mobilise some unusual KPIs!

Inspired online stores, a lack of innovation in brick & mortar retail, overpriced retail locations and double-digit traffic losses all contribute to diluting 4-Wall contributions of many brick & mortar stores. It’s therefore no big surprise that we are frequently asked to help brands to pick out the most promising retail locations, to identify locations to shut down and, even more importantly, to identify the ones with potential for store performance improvement.

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Goats on a Roof! And What’s Your USP?

As far as unique selling propositions go, goats on a roof are pretty unique. And this offline-only retail location on Vancouver Island has turned them into a long-term success story without selling a single goat.

Once upon a time there was a tiny fruit booth near the Trans-Canada Highway that served Vancouverites en route to their weekend and summer houses as well as tourists exploring an island full of natural beauty. That was back in the 70ies when Kristian and Solveig Graaten, who had migrated from Norway 20 years earlier, decided to start a small retail business on Vancouver Island.

In the meantime, this little fruit stall has become the queen of retail locations and one of the most frequented tourist attractions on Vancouver Island: The Coombs Old Country Market.

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How to Benefit from Bestseller Management Immediately

Bestseller Management is one of the most important processes to improve sell-through and mark-down in the consumer goods industry. What KPI helps identify bestsellers and make smart decisions about them?

Some companies like Zara, Kennel & Schmenger or s.Oliver excel at managing bestsellers. While Zara works with sophisticated analytics to alter bestselling styles by fabric, color or detailing, s.Oliver masters  bestseller management to a degree that endangers its potential to innovate.

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Size Matters! 4 High and Low Tech Solutions for Fashion Size Finding

Fashion size finding remains a challenge for retailers and consumers. Choose the right fit for you from our shortlist of size finding technologies.

Finding the right size is of course crucial when shopping for fashion. It is therefore no big surprise that failing to find the correct size or fit is the reason that consumers mention most frequently for aborting a shopping experience, both online and in brick and mortar stores.

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Is It Magic? A Retail Survival Check of the First German Disney Store

Disney opened its first brick and mortar store in Germany three weeks ago. Let’s perform a retail survival check to guesstimate its chances of sustainable success!

Truth be told, it is not actually the first Disney store to ever open its door to magic in Germany. Disney ran four stores in the 90ies which, according to Disney, had to close due to licensing problems. With its new store on one of Germany’s busiest high streets, Disney starts a second attempt to conquer the German market with its merchandising products.

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Don’t Trust Your KPI Expectations!

Explore how to keep management and organization committed if your KPIs for international expansion don’t meet the expectations.

This post shows how KPIs in new markets can differ enormously from your home market. When starting international expansion, reporting often needs to be reviewed to make sure that you get the full picture and give a new market its fair chance. This is part 6 of my series on international expansion, catch up with my previous pieces here.

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Is Your Store Format Ready for International Expansion? Part II

Customer Service levels and consumer expectations differ from country to country. This post (Part II of this series) shows how those differences affect your staffing and how you select, train, motivate and pay your store staff when expanding into new markets.

In Part I I talked about the specifics to consider when taking a proven retail format international with regards to store location, adjacencies, assortment, product mix, store size, dimensions, layout and store look and feel.

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Is Your Retail Format Ready for International Expansion? Part I

The days, when brands could establish a successful retail format at home and just roll it out internationally without major adaptations, are long over.

Customer centricity is the new holy grail in the retail business, promising prosperity and success for any retail format. Surprisingly, many brands still start to roll-out a retail format without even trying to understand whether and how consumers and their behaviors differ in a new market. This post illustrates what to explore and adapt to establish a successful retail format when going international.

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International Expansion – How to Find the Best Distribution Model?

Selecting the most appropriate channel mix – using the optimal distribution model for any new market – is like finding your way in a multidimensional maze. It is one of the most complex and risky decisions top management has to make, as each market comes with its own set of conditions and requirements.

There is plenty of information available about characteristics of the different distribution channels. Therefore, in this post I would like to focus on how to select the best distribution model for your brand. A distribution model that allows you to expand into the targeted channels in a specific country in your market segment!

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