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'Doing more, with less' - The Drum explores the biggest retail sector challenges

In these difficult times for the retail industry, what are the biggest challenges facing agencies working with clients in this sector? The Drum asks a number of agencies with retail experience to share their thoughts.

So, what are the biggest challenges facing the retail sector?The Market CreativeCommercial partnership – extended payment terms and inability to get key client insurance are just two of the pressures placed on agencies - that’s before you discuss the significant value that retailers demand from their partners.Stagnation – it’s difficult to be brave when the pressures on to deliver sales – but sometimes that’s exactly what retailers need to do to elicit change – conflicting client/agency agenda in this area can put the relationship under pressure. Design by DistractionOne of the biggest challenges is the compromise between near constant innovation whilst maintaining a solid brand identity. In highly competitive sectors there is a regular need for refreshing and revitalising a brand to keep it exciting and interesting to consumers without compromising the core brand values and principles. McCann Erickson Central LtdRetail clients always represent a particular challenge due to the need to respond quickly and produce good work at short notice. The big challenge is to find creative solutions that make sure the offer is hero, but distinctive versus the competition, without diminishing the value of the brand. And if the bulk of the marketing budget is being directed at promotional activity how is it possible to generate ideas that can also contribute positively to the brand's equity?Stealth Intelligence LtdAll agencies face the same challenges; however those without technology face the greatest challenge as today's digital world is faster than ever before. People as opposed to technology will no longer cut it. But sadly most agencies don't have any technology and many boast the presence of it when it doesn’t even exist - smoke and mirrors or as we call it fluff still remains - sadly clients still fall for great salesman ship and are left to discover the weaknesses six months later. I would say the challenge most agencies face is the renewal of the contract.....Shoot the Moon Design ConsultantsBy nature, the sector is dynamic and market conditions have intensified this. Outside strong on-brand creative; pace and a degree of intuition are key for a productive client relationship. It is all the more important to systemise and drive out efficiencies as much as possible whilst being mindful that the creative development is not compromised. Integrating photography, post-production and digital into the agency has been key to this for us - the efficiencies delivered and time saved has allowed us to be much more responsive and flexible, yet increase our creative control overall.Refinery Marketing CommunicationsI don’t think it is any different from any other sector! Clients want more for their money – or they have less to spend and want better results. We are having more conversations with procurement teams who are working hard to drive down costs. As a result we have to find new ways to work smarter, harder, faster and better – after all, we have balance sheets to protect too! We’re getting more quick turn-round briefs – tactical briefs responding to a particular business requirement – so we’re having to be even more fleet of foot. More than ever before, in the context of clients wanting more for less, wanting to get to the answer faster, agencies who can offer an integrated solution to briefs will be in the strongest position to meet the challenges that lie ahead.Thinking JuiceDoing more, with less. Across the board, clients simply don't have the budgets required to make the most of the opportunities a recession / difficult economy can provide, because the trading conditions haven't improved for two years. Agencies are also having to move faster and adapt to the changing media landscape embracing digital and social media. Some agencies, like Thinking Juice, have flourished because we're adapted, helped our clients think of new ways to engage and continually work WITH them to tackle the problems that retailers face.Golley RetailGetting brands and retailers to work together effectively. Educating brands that shelf back marketing is the way forward and ATL alone will no longer save the day!This question was put to a number of agencies with retail experience as part of a special supplement published by The Drum, in association with RAR. To view the full supplement, with a list of some of the top recommended agencies with retail experience, as well as comment and analysis, click here to download the pdf for free.

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