On Friday 3rd March, I had the chance to attend the field trip to Jarrold – a long-standing Norwich-based independent department store – as a part of practical content for the module Retail Marketing and Management. The trip was organized by module organiser – Ms Ratula Chakraborty – with the aim to help students gain useful insights on how retail operation works in practice. The trip was a follow-up event, to a two-hour session hosted by Tim – a senior manager of sales and supply department at Jarrold. As soon as we boarded the coach departing from NBS, everyone was booming with excitement and speculation as we had been told that the store will be closed at 5pm and that we would have the whole venue exclusively to ourselves.
We arrived at Jarrold with the few last customers leaving, and met Tim, waiting for us inside and with a smile. Tim started with a brief history of the building – a neo-baroque design by Norwich-born architect George Skipper dating back a hundred years, before explaining the layout of the lower-ground floor including the homeware, books, stationery, pastry & delicatessens and cafe. He explained how Jarrold employed an analytic system based on sales profit per floor square metre to constantly rearrange and renovate different sections within the store. This helps optimize the store visual merchandising and seasonal demand changes in order to deliver a premium ‘all-under-one-roof’ experience.
On the ground floor, Tim explained how Jarrold has been juggling between providing its own sales operation, and leasing concession stores to different brands within the store to attract and maintain relationships with its partners. This has led to Jarrold being able to secure exclusive distribution deals with several high-profile, profitable brands, especially in cosmetics – while still maintaining a consistent level of merchandising standards.
In the men’s and womenswear sections, Tim further demonstrated Jarrold’s retailing operation by explaining its focus on having ‘the right stock, at the right price and at the right time’, drawing on a system of proactive customer profiling for capturing and forecasting customer demand and preferences. After that, we walked upstairs to the second floor and third floor of Jarrold – displaying mostly furniture and toys. This is another example of the store’s core idea of ‘digging’ into customer’s demand and preferences by constantly updating and revising its product portfolio and store design while working actively with partners across the supply chain to minimize risks and maximize customer satisfaction. It was fascinating to witness various concepts of retailing including visual merchandising, supply chain management and store design being carefully and creatively applied by a successful department store. Those concepts, even being applied at a micro-level, are proven to bring about substantial impact to store performance. I am personally interested in visual merchandising and it was an eye-opening experience to see Jarrold optimizing different aspects of the concept, from choosing the appropriate atmospheric design for different cafés, to carefully laying out the lighting and sound system to induce customers towards the right mood for shopping at different sections throughout the store. These intricacies were passionately explained by Tim, including his continuous efforts to answer questions from the intrigued crowd of students.
The time seemed to rush by quickly, and before we knew it, the coach had already arrived to bring us back to NBS. The excitement did not stop there, however, as discussion continued amongst those of us who took the ride back to the University. I was thrilled with the experience and very inspired about the prospect of working in the retailing industry – after witnessing how innovative, challenging and rewarding it can be. The visit to Jarrold was more than just a visualization of what I have covered during lectures – it was an invaluable insight into one of the the biggest industries in the UK, and a step towards furthering my own employability.
Special thanks go to Ms Ratula Chakraborty, MSc Programme Director -Norwich Business School and Tim Shattock from Jarrold for organizing this trip. Another thank goes to my friend Charlie for the fantastic photography.