12 Minds is a business that produces stainless steel necklaces. These necklaces have the star sign constellations (Figure 1) engraved onto a circular 3cm pendant. This business is managed by five UAL students each with different roles with my role being Retail Operations Director, this includes the decisions for any merchandising and retail environment that takes place. E-Commerce also comes under this role which includes the website decisions. Other job responsibilities encompasses stock and sales analysis and any relationship with the customer that we as a brand many have.
(Figure 1, engraved necklace, Collings, L)
The product began with the research into the astrological system to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. As the subject was looked into further, the idea of the specific star signs and their constellations was developed. Having done primary research through a public survey it was decided that there is a specific target market for this concept.
This survey provided us with information that helped to inform key decisions throughout this project. 77 people took part in the survey with 89.9% of these people being female. (igure 2)
Figure 2. Graph showing the percentage ratio of male to females that took part in the survey.
Figure 3 shows the percentage of those that answered whether they would consider purchasing a necklace with a design that we have been considering such as the star signs. Getting a result of 70.1% was very positive and led us to believe that we were targeting a good market.
As a group, most of the decisions were made together and didn't rely on one person to make a specific decision. This, in turn, worked out well for us as it kept everyone involved. For example, when choosing the materials for the necklaces, time was spent together in group meetings looking at different options rather than relying on the Product and Sourcing Director. Consequently both the chain and pendant for the necklace were found on 8Seasons and were purchased as soon as funding was provided from the university. The engraving of the pendant was executed by a local engraving company, O'Connell engravers.
As Retail Operation Director, the first decision was to look into what it was that the role required. From my knowledge, this role would involve the merchandising of the Spitalfields market stall as well as the the e-commerce platforms. However, as discussed by Elena Martinez (2015) in an article for Open Bravo, as well as merchandising and online activities, retail operations involves product inventory in store and online, data analysis and management as well as having people management and developing relationships. After research, this role seemed a lot more essential to the business than original thoughts.
Towards the end process of the business, sales and stock management are prevalent to this role. Michael Porter discusses the different activities within the value chain. Inbound logistics is described as "activities associated with receiving, storing and disseminating inputs to the product" and an example of this is inventory control. (Porter, M. 1985)
Within our business, our method of inventory control was to only engrave twelve necklaces as sample pieces to show on our website and online. The necklaces that were then sold via an online platform were engraved when an order came in. However, the customers purchasing at the market stall will be given the sample necklaces. According to Jackson and Shaw (2016), this allows us to respond to customers demand in a more timely fashion without wasting resources.
My main role within merchandising focused on the development of the website along side with the visual merchandising of the market stall.
The marketing mix is a model that is a "combination of elements used by a business to enable it to meet the needs and expectations of customers." (Tutor2U, 2018). The main four elements in this mix are Product, Price, Promotion and Place with merchandising falling under the product category. For the development of the website, I needed to understand the customers that I was targeting and therefore what sort of website was required.
Below is a marketing positioning map showing where 12 Minds is place in comparison to its competitors. This map was developed as primary research and to gain an understanding of where 12 Minds should be placed amongst competition. The main reason for this map was to see how similar competitors such as Lisa Angel, Lovisa and Accessorize using visual merchandising to engage and encourage customers.
When deciding on the visual merchandising for the market stall at Spitalfields, I decided with the Brand Director that we would go for a simple and minimalistic look. As discussed by VM Central (2016), a visual merchandising consultancy service, having a "muted colour palette" allows a focus on the product. Due to this, we decided to focus on a black and white colour scheme.
Figure 6. Table design of market stall. (Collings, L. 2018)
Figure 6 shows the table design of the market stall. The 12 necklaces are displayed on top of leaflets with information on about each star sign. We thought this would encourage customers to approach the table as they would be interested in the facts about their star sign.
Another part of our visual merchandising was our mood board below (Figure 7). The main point of this board was to put our logo on display as well as promoting our Instagram page. At the bottom of the mood board, the twelve star sign symbols and their dates were pinned. This provided customers with information about what star sign they are as many customers don't know this.
The first decision as retail operations director came to light when online platforms were discussed. I took this opportunity to develop an online website where our products would be sold and it would be a stage for us to show off our business. This process began by looking into different websites that would be suitable. After speaking to our financial director, we came to the conclusion that paying for a website would be a waste of our resources as even though the website and therefore the marketing would be better, we could put that money towards something more useful especially when there are websites that allow you to do this for free. I decided on a website called Freewebstore which allowed me to see analysis of the website and customers. For example, I can see each order placed as well as each customer that has placed an order with ease. The website can be seen in the figures below.
(Website design, Collings, L. 2018)
Online and In-Store sales
In total we have had eighteen sales from our online platform with seventeen of those being international sales. The figure below shows an invoice from our online website as proof of sales.
For the day spent at Spitalfields market, six sales were made. The figure below is a receipt from our first sale of the day. We used a receipt book to keep track of all sales as well as giving the customer proof of their purchase.
As a company we predicted that we would sell more units, at both online and offline markets. However, our breakeven point was reached where our revenue matched our costs and as we sold more units we started to generate a profit. After finishing all sales, we had a revenue of £245 and a final profit of £103 was produced.
Elena Martinez. (2015) Retail Store Operations: Execution and Excellence. Available at: http://www.openbravo.com/blog/retail-store-operations-execution-and-excellence/ (Accessed:2/6/18).
FirstView (2018) Street Style - Ready-to-Wear - Women. Available at: http://firstview.com/streetstyle_images.php?id=48080#.Wx7rISOQ3dd
Jackson, T. and Shaw, D. (2016) Mastering Fashion Buying and Merchandising Management. Place of publication: Palgrave Macmillan. Palgrave Master Series
Porter, M. (1985) Competitive Advantage. New York: The Free Press.
Tutor2U (2018) Extended Marketing Mix (7P's). Available at: https://www.tutor2u.net/business/reference/the-extended-marketing-mix-7ps (Accessed: 8/6/2018).
VM Central (2016) COS X SNARKITECTURE: MINIMALIST VISUAL MERCHANDISING. Available at: http://www.vm-central.com/cos-x-snarkitecture-minimalist-visual-merchandising/ (Accessed: 7/6/18).
WGSN (2016) Colour Analysis S/S 18.Available at: https://www-wgsn-com.arts.idm.oclc.org/content/reports/#/Colour/w/Colour_Analysis/26678 (Accessed: 3/6/18).
The presentation above was created for a summative assessment where we had to pitch our business idea to a panel. As we were successful at this pitch, we received £100 of investment from the university to help start the business.
My part in this presentation was to discuss my role as retail operations director. My speech started with a discussion on the merchandising of retail environments such as the display of the necklaces. The next main point was about e-commerce and the development of our website. The final point I made was about stock management and sales analysis including how many units we had purchased.
The video below was created for our Crowdfund Campus campaign. This is a platform that allows investors to invest into university projects. For this to happen, companies offer incentives to encourage investors. For example, our company offered four different incentives. The first is a personalised thank you email if £5 is contributed. With a £10 contribution, the investor will receive 20% off the necklace, £20 investor will receive 50% of their next purchase. The last incentive is that a free necklace along with a personalised note will be delivered if £30 or more is contributed. Our target was to reach £150 worth of contributions however we did not reach this target and had £0 investment.
Developing this video didn't come under the role of retail operations director, however, I directed and filmed it myself. I decided to keep the video simple with a conversation over the top discussing our roles and what 12 Minds as a brand stands for.
Along with my role as retail operations director, I took part in other aspects of the business. The first being the development of the companies logo. This came together after I found the symbols for each star sign and uploaded and edited them digitally. The below two figures are examples of the logo that we have used. The preferred logo was the black and white example as we thought this represented the stars, constellations and galaxies the most. However, the design with multi colours was developed through colours used on our original mood-board that our Brand director created. These colour palettes can be seen below.
The colours that I decided to use in the second design are inline with the Spring/Summer 2018 Colour Analysis produced by the WGSN colour team. The palettes above were taken from Adobe Color CC and match the pale levels and as well as the orange and purple hues. Having done this research, these gave me inspiration for the logo.
For the development of the website I created, I followed a colour palette similar to the one used for the logos. For this website, photographs of the products were required and having a history of photography I decided to do this myself. For the model, we used our own branding director as we felt this showed that we believed in our brand and we are our own brand ambassadors.
(Collings, L. 2018)
For the photographs, I decided to follow the style of the Street Style, Ready-to-Wear, Women's S/S18 collection on First View seen below. These photos show the product in a way that isn't too styled or too posed, giving the customer the impression they don't have to be a model to wear these products.