Independent retailer Rachel Parkin has launched Retail Rehab, a website giving support and advice to indies on how to tackle the challenges they face in the recession.
The site, at www.retailrehab.co.uk, is free to use and includes advice on growing sales, employment advice and branding, as well as tips on how retailers can best market their business via websites, blogs and press releases, all of which can be accessed through the site’s subscribers section or on a regularly updated blog.
“Supporting independent businesses creates local jobs and preserves economic diversity, which is why we need to work together to help these businesses when times are tough,” said Parkin.
“Independent businesses are accountable to customers and the local community, and ensure the unique character of an area. As both a supplier and retailer, I feel I am positioned to see things from both sides and I felt there was a gap in the market for a site which offers practical advice.”
She added: “It is crucial for independent retailers to look at how they can distinguish their businesses from the high street. It is about promoting the store and differentiating yourself in this tough trading environment.”
Parkin is a director of jewellery manufacturer Balagan Group, and also owns two independent businesses based in Cambridgeshire; Reba, a womenswear boutique in Peterborough, and Cambridge jewellery shop Pandora’s Box.
Reba, which trades from the unusual site of a medieval prison, sells labels including Only, Vero Moda and Darling. The store has no windows, which Parkin said has encouraged her to be creative in terms of marketing the shop in order to entice customers through the door.
Retail Rehab also plans to launch an online discussion forum later this year, where indies can talk to each other and swap ideas on best practice. Parkin added: “The focus for the year should be niche marketing, customer service and shameless self-promotion.
“Money spent at locally owned businesses stays longer in the local economy. This means more local income, wealth and jobs.”