How do brands promote their sale?

 
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How do brands promote their sale? As consumers and retail specialists this was a subject that we wanted to research in more detail to establish how the seasonal sale is presented by retailers across the customer journey from windows to website.

Our chosen destination was Westfield London where retailers from Primark to Prada are under the same roof.  This gave a broad cross section of fashion and footwear brands that span high street and luxury. It also allowed me the opportunity to visit a selection of stores twice throughout the sale period in order to observe and monitor how a sale progresses and changes.

Historically, although the summer sales would begin in mid July and continue throughout August with increased discounts and store changes during this time, retailers are now more reactive and many begin in June.  With the recent heatwave and sporting events this summer, it was an opportunity to maximise sales both in store and online and be ready to merchandise for the new season and reports from the Office for National Statistics support this.

I visited 38 stores in total and also looked at apparel and footwear separately. It was interesting to see how stores promoted, positioned and merchandised their sale, how this translated to their website and how this changed as product sold through.  I first visited on the 28th June and then again on the 10th July.

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ZARA - First visit

  • Windows had an understated approach for sale
  • All in-store mannequins were dressed in sale t-shirts
  • Entire store was in sale
  • Products were merchandised by price points and product type
  • Sale products were stickered with red sale price
  • Website had the same look and feel as the store windows

ZARA - Revisit

  • Windows were the same as on the last visit
  • All in-store mannequins were still dressed in sale t-shirts
  • Entire store was in sale
  • Products were merchandised by price points and product type
  • Sale signage was more visible and more price points added through out the store
  • Website was still promoting sale

TOPSHOP - First Visit

  • Large sale graphics and decals covered windows
  • Sale products were merchandised at the front of the store on temporary rails
  • Sale products were merchandised by price points
  • Website promoted sale on the top banner but the main focus was the full price summer collections

TOPSHOP - Revisit

  • Windows were updated to a new summer scheme
  • Sale had moved upstairs and was merchandised by product type
  • Entrance of the store was merchandised with new collection which gave the store fresh look
  • Website updated to match the window scheme but still promoted sale on the top banner as before

UNIQLO - First Visit

  • Sale products were left in situ 
  • All in-store mannequins were dressed in full price products
  • Sale products were promoted with price points
  • Product labels stickered with red sale price
  • Website promoting sale under promotions on menu bar and with a graphic banner to match windows

UNIQLO - Revisit

  • Windows were still promoting sale
  • Front of the store was now merchandised with a new collection, which gave the store a fresh feel
  • All in-store mannequins were dressed in new collection products
  • New lines had been added to sale and were promoted with price points
  • Sale products were left in situ 

BODEN - First Visit

  • Windows were showing big red sale graphics
  • In-store mannequins dressed in sale products but not labelled as sale (even when positioned adjacent to sale)
  • Sale products were left in situ
  • The sale campaign had a playful tone and was brought to life in store through hanger tags, shelf signage and percentage stickers
  • The playful tone used instore was also carried through to the website creating a consistent multichannel journey

BODEN - Revisit

  • Windows were the same as on last visit and dressed with sale products. The window displays were turned towards the inside of the store which allowed the sale signage to take over the window itself.
  • In-store mannequins were still dressed in sale products but not labelled as sale (even when positioned adjacent to sale)
  • More lines were added to sale and the sale was expanded to the front of the store
  • New humorous sale signage added to rail and tables
  • Website updated to promote new collection

MULBERRY - First visit

  • Windows were dressed in full price products
  • A discreet sale decal in the windows promoting sale
  • Sale products were merchandised in situ
  • Website promotes sale
  • No typical 'red' used to promote sale in any way as you may expect with a premium brand

MULBERRY - Revisit

  • Windows were the same as on previous visit
  • Sale products merchandised in situ and discreet sale signage placed on shelves
  • Website updated to new images and content

BURBERRY - first visit

  • Windows were dressed in full price products
  • Discreet sale signage was visible on the corner of the window next to the entrance
  • In-store mannequins dressed in full price products
  • Sale products merchandised in situ
  • Website also promoted sale in the discreet tone creating consistent consumer journey

Burberry - Revisit

  • Sale signage removed from the windows
  • All sale had been removed from the shop floor
  • The store looked fresh and ready for autumn
  • Website is promoting the new autumn collection 

CLARKS - First Visit

  • Windows promoting sale
  • Temporary shoe racks were placed at the front of the store
  • Sale products were merchandised by size
  • Percentage signage used and all shoes were individually labelled with a sale sticker showing original price, sale price and size
  • Website’s main focus was the sale

CLARKS - Revisit

  • Windows were the same as on the previous visit
  • Front table was merchandised to new collection
  • Temporary shoe racks still placed inside the store for sale products
  • Website’s main focus was still the sale

UGG - First visit

  • Windows promoting sale products
  • Sale products merchandised on shelves with increased capacity
  • Sale products labelled with same themed sale signage as windows
  • Website promoted sale in the same theme as windows and in-store graphics

UGG - Revisit

  • Sale products had been updated in windows
  • New lines had been added and sale was merchandised at the front of the store on table and walls
  • Website was not updated from the previous visit
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SUMMARY

My impression was that overall the sale was well executed in Westfield across all brands.

Some retailers hadn't got a sale in their stores at all, as their products are either timeless (Lego), always in demand (Apple), or classic brands that don’t need discounting (Prada). Also, high seasonal brands like Havaianas didn’t have a sale in-store as this is the main season to sell their products.

However, most luxury brands although in sale understandably want to keep their image premium and had very minimal signage on their windows and in-side the stores. Many luxury brands also have separate outlet shopping destinations where excess stock and old season products will be sent to in order to not devalue the brand and keep their store image fresh and 

I noticed, retailers were generally merchandising their products by type/style. Once the products started to get fragmented, the merchandising style was changed to size order. The positive to merchandising sale by size is that it increases impulse purchase behaviour when a consumer finds something they like in their size.

I loved The White Company as they had managed to keep their products beautifully merchandised even during sale which is often hard to maintain!

My least favourite store was TopShop, as it looked too chaotic. Items were cramped in temporary rails which made finding or seeing products very difficult however, as a major fashion retailer with high footfall, this approach ensures a quick sell through of sale stock and allows them to reorganise the store as it progresses which it had done on my return visit.

I returned to the same stores again in Westfield a few weeks later to assess how the sale had moved on and which retailers had started the transformation to the new season.

The sale was still strongly promoted in most stores and Next and Russel & Bromley had now started their sales.

Surprisingly, Topshop had undergone a total transformation. Their over cramped temporary sale rails and the big sale window graphics had changed to a new season window scheme and freshly merchandised store as the sale was relocated to upstairs.

Uniqlo was a highlight on my return visit as it looked neat and refreshed and I was excited to walk around the store and to see their new collection. They still had some sale items but these were merchandised in situ and product blocked so the store didn’t feel overpowered whilst bridging the transition to AW18. 

As we head in to September, stores are ready for the new season however, a selection of final sale items and further reductions continue so there is still a chance to snap up a bargain if you're quick!

Mirella Docherty

VM Manager