Inspiration and Retail success in Doncaster? Go and see the Frances Bishop story

The proof is in the pud(ding)

Frances Bishop, former Apprentice contestant and owner of The Pud Store was recently on BBC breakfast news talking about her approach to retail. And what she said resonated with us. So we did a bit more research about Frances and her retail strategy, and we think you’ll find it interesting.

The Pud Store is a designer children’s clothes boutique that sells at discount outlet prices. There are two stores, one in Doncaster and one in Newark. Not exactly thriving high streets, and yet the Pud stores continue to go from strength to strength. But how?

We have talked a lot about the importance of providing an experience for customers, and Bishop is likeminded, in fact, to quote,

“If they are coming in to your store…you should treat them in a way that makes them feel special, cared (for) and valued, and that is my entire ethos”.

Yes! This is exactly it. The complacency of retailers, particularly those larger stores, has turned shoppers away from the high street. With internet shopping, products can be bought from anywhere at any time, and you can always find it cheaper somewhere. Products really have become a commodity. So to get people on to the high street, to get them walking in to your store, you need to offer something more.

Frances Bishop Twitter Account

The Pud Store does this and then some. Let’s take a look.

  1. The stores themselves are designed with their shoppers in mind – Mums. Shopping with children can be stressful but with well-designed stores, Pud provides a calm, pleasant shopping environment. There is a feeding room where mums can relax and comfortably feed their babies. Stores are free of clutter and pushchairs can easily get round. And let’s not forget the kids. There is a children’s play area, chalk walls, child friendly visual merchandising…

Ah, what the heck, let’s quote Frances again,

“Shopping with children shouldn’t have to be stressful and rushed, and in our stores we try our very best to facilitate an easy and enjoyable experience, that is memorable and ‘stand-out’ enough to ensure repeat custom”.

  1. The staff within the stores are friendly. Golly, how many times have you entered a store to feel that you have intruded or your existence as a shopper is pure inconvenience to staff? Not so at Pud. Bishop prides herself and her staff on their excellent product knowledge and great customer service. The staff are enthusiastic about the products and this in turn makes the customers enthusiastic. When customers start to enthuse and associate with your brand you know you’ll have them coming back again and again.

It’s all about how you sell. I won’t quote directly this time but to paraphrase, the theory behind Bishop’s approach is that, of course, anyone can sell a dress, so to make the sale it is about how you sell that dress and how you deliver that experience. You need the best product, at the best price and with the best possible customer service.

  1. Multi-channel selling. This is an interesting one actually in relation to Pud. We’ll start where they have done very well. And that is in harnessing the power of social media. Every day they post live videos of their deals of the day on Facebook. By filming these live, viewers can actually hear the phone ring with orders coming in, increasing the urgency to snap up these deals. There are around 9,000 viewers of these videos at any one time and Pud makes around £1,200 from the Facebook page every day.

We’ll paraphrase again here. For Bishop, it’s about telling a story and she tells this story through the live videos on social media. It engages the shoppers, encouraging them to buy but also makes them want to visit the store, supporting the business model as a whole.

However, interestingly, Pud does not have a website. Well, not quite. Frances talks about it during the BBC interview, quite proudly stating that they do not have a website. It isn’t too clear what her business reasons are behind this decision, and in fact, there is now a website under construction, so she seems to have backtracked on this. And to be honest I can only think is a good thing. The website will serve to tell Pud’s story far and wide, and to engage and enthuse more customers than social media alone.

And therein lies the end of our Frances Bishop lesson in retail. To summarise what we have learnt from Bishop and Pud;

  • make the shop an inviting, enjoyable place to visit and people will come back
  • provide excellent product knowledge and great customer service
  • the internet is your friend. Use social media and your website to engage customers and encourage purchasing online and in-store.

It’s not exactly rocket science when listed out like that, is it? And yet so many retailers are faltering because they fail to follow these basic steps.

If you have enjoyed hearing about Pud’s retail strategy, you may also like to read our recent article about the High Street.

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