Retail Portas Agency Clarks

Five things agencies can learn from retailers

By Richard Danks | hear of strategy



Opinion article

July 22, 2015 | 4 min read

Richard Danks, head of strategy at Portas Agency, asks what can agencies learn from retailers, offering up five top tips he has garnered from some of the world’s best brands and retailers.

Tossed's quirky receipts are engaging

I’ve recently become a Tosser. Yep, it’s a bit much to drop nine quid on lunch for some salad and a coconut water, but for me the money doesn’t matter. Not when the till receipt makes you feel like a superstar. ‘You’re Arnold Schwarzenegger’ it grins to you instead of an order collection number. ‘Jennifer Lopez’ it winks. ‘Tom Cruise’ it nods in slo-mo. It’s been three months since my first hit and it’s yet to get old, raising a smile every time they hand back my card.

The hairnets, the gory pink branding, the laminate floor – it’s not really me. But this one small gesture, on the most overlooked of touchpoints, has made me fall head-over-heels. I love Tossed. I think it’s retail at its best. And all because of that one little quirk. A tiny idea that’s punching well above its weight.

So, what else can we take from retail? In an issue bursting with the latest trends, innovations, technologies, and ideas impacting the retail sector, I thought it would be refreshing to look at things from a different angle: what we can learn from them. Here are five observations picked up from working with some of the world’s best brands and retailers, from Clarks to Westfields.

1. When you’re on to a winner, order one in every colour

Having worked with Inditex, the world’s largest clothing manufacturer, there is much for marketing to learn. When they identify that a style is selling fast, they turn their whole machine (manufacture, distribution, marketing, retail) towards making the most of the opportunity. Agencies should plan budgets, resource and processes to ensure that when something unexpectedly takes off, they’re ready to push it even further

2. Play it long and short

This theory could have been written for retail. Our clients’ ability to focus on the longterm brand game whilst having one eye on this week’s figures is staggering. Agencies should be reactive, flexible, creative, and above all else, not precious, when it comes to producing tactical work that helps sell.

3. Trust your gut

Big retail is at the forefront of big data, but the best in the business know how to balance insights with instinct. Retailers respect (and reward) people with ‘an eye’. Agencies must do the same – don’t allow the current fixation on big data to overshadow what clients really pay us for, making the creative and commercial leaps that will transform their business. Use data, but trust your gut.

4. No, no, no populist gimmicks

Something a client actually said to me during a presentation. On reflection she was right: don’t do tech for tech’s sake. Don’t do animals for shares. Customers aren’t interested. Keep things on point and remember – we’re in retail to sell, sell, sell.

5. Make every touchpoint count

‘You’re Marilyn Monroe’.

So there you have it. And this is why we have ‘think like a retailer’ framed in our downstairs loo.

The Drum’s retail breakfast is on 29 July. If you work in retail or an agency representing a retail brand then you are eligible for a free place at this event. We are limiting the event to a maximum of 30 delegates. To register please visit the dedicated website by clicking here.

Retail Portas Agency Clarks

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