It was an extremely pleasant surprise to read a story talking up the success of a high street retailer, Hobbycraft, instead of the stories of closures and losses we are becoming accustomed to. What stands out is the detail of "why it's interesting". Ultimately the approach they are taking focuses on the customer experience.
We spend a lot of time talking about The Subscription Economy, a term coined by our client Tien Tzuo of Zuora. And Hobbycraft's success is the perfect demonstration of how this focus of life beyond the sale and on the longer term customer experience can reap positive returns in an incredibly challenging retail environment.
Ultimately, technology underpins this success - from data management to intelligent analytics. It's time for retailers to make the shift from pure sales to experience and service led customer engagements.
Why it's interesting Hobbycraft has a specialist but loyal customer base, including 3m people who are members of its Hobbycraft Club scheme. This means it can draw customers to visit its stores with demos and workshops, which it says has made the branches "social centres for craft". The social approach has also translated to the website, which Hobbycraft says has big potential for user-generated content such as photographs and videos. The positive performance figures come at the end of Archie Norman's tenure as chairman. Having helped to transform Hobbycraft over the past four years, he took up the mammoth task of chairing M&S last year.