THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

57 posts categorized "BIPC National Network"

04 April 2019

Happy returns make for happy customers

Add comment

Royal Mail published a report on delivery for online shopping, Delivery Matters. In this guest blog post, they explain how businesses can make their customers happy by making their online shopping, and returns, experience as convenient as possible...

As online shoppers become increasingly savvy, they look for reasons to shop with a particular brand. The perfect example of this is the growing trend of being able to ‘try before you buy’ – already offered by numerous retailers. This is a convenient and flexible way of shopping online and is proving increasingly popular with online shoppers. In fact, 76% of consumers said they would ‘definitely’ or ‘maybe’ purchase more items if they were offered a ‘try before you buy’ option, with shoppers saying they would order an average of three extra items each month.

RMK034(MR) (5)

With 17% of global retailers already adopting this kind of model, it’s important to consider putting ‘try before you buy’ at the heart of your returns offering – and staying one step ahead of your competitors when it comes to customer satisfaction. By giving people what they want (and expect), it is more likely they will continue to shop with you in the future.

One in three (34%) of those that return items have used ‘try before you buy’ services. 18 – 34-year-old shoppers (49%) are more likely to use a service like this if it was available. Clothing (52%) and footwear (39%) are the categories people are most likely to use this service for, followed by electrical goods (39%). Two in five shoppers (40%) believe they would purchase more items if a retailer offered a ‘try before you buy service’.

Reasons for returns

The average online shopper in the UK sends back an online purchase every month*. Over half (53%) of those that return clothing or footwear said the most common reason to return is because the item didn’t fit or was the wrong size.

The study, part of Royal Mail’s annual Delivery Matters report, reveals women are more likely to return something because the item is not what they expected. Men are more likely to return a non-clothing item because it’s incompatible or not useful for its intended purpose.

Clothing (75%), electrical goods (42%) and computer software/hardware (33%) are the most commonly returned items. Over half of clothing is returned because it didn’t fit or was the wrong size. For electrical goods, the most common reason for returns is because the item was faulty or arrived damaged.

What online shoppers want

According to the study, six in ten (60%) online shoppers will not use a retailer again if they have a difficult returns experience so it’s important to get it right. To keep customers returning to purchase time and again, retailers should make sure their returns experience is a simple and affordable one.

There is a recurring theme when it comes to what online shoppers want when they return items: ease and convenience. People want the option of local, easy access, as well as knowing they won’t have to wait indoors all day for someone to come and pick their parcel up. They also want to use a returns provider they can trust. Royal Mail continues to lead the way on that score, with over three times as many online shoppers trusting them to return their item over their closest competition. Shoppers need to be able to trust that their items will get back to who they bought them from safely to get their refund. With branches up and down the UK, people prefer returning items at the Post Office® more than anywhere else.

Speed of refund after an item has been sent back is also important, with 93% of shoppers believing it’s crucial to receive a notification of a refund after they have returned something. Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents think it’s important for retailers to provide clear returns information on their site and at the point of purchase, as well as wanting marketplace sellers to make returns information easy to find (68%).

Peace of mind and reassurance are key when returning items so it’s important to provide tracking. Not only does tracking allow someone to keep up-to-date on where an item is at any given time, it also provides the much-needed proof of posting and delivery which are vital when someone is expecting a refund.

A6 (2)

Key conclusions

‘Try before you buy’ is a huge trend that appears set to stay. Smart sellers can satisfy savvy shoppers by offering them this convenient, flexible returns option. What’s also clear is that the returns process needs to be as easy as possible with many online buyers not prepared to shop with a retailer again if they have a difficult returns experience.

Factors such as speed of refund remain important, as does clarity of information about a company’s returns policy at the point of purchase. Shoppers now expect more from sellers and increasingly want to be able to return an item how they want, where they want and when they want. If retailers keep up with change and meet customers’ expectations then shoppers will continue to buy from them again and again.

*Taken as an average from the research that revealed online shoppers, on average, returned three packages within a three month period.

The research was independently conducted by Trinity McQueen and based on a sample group of 1,503 UK online shoppers that make returns.

01 April 2019

A week in the life of... Frankie Fox, co-founder and Head of Innovation for The Foraging Fox

Add comment

To celebrate the British Library's Food Season, this month's Week in the life of... follows Frankie Fox, the co-founder and Head of Innovation for The Foraging Fox, a multi award winning producer of all natural condiments sold across the UK, Germany, The Netherlands and North America. Frankie is an alumni of our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme.

3 bottles with burger landscape_LR-Mar17-116-WEB

Monday Starts with feeding the chickens and then the school run, dropping off the kids before racing into London to an office in Shoreditch for a feasibility exercise with an external consultant on some particular NPD (new product development) we have been looking at. This involves looking at the whole of market in our major territories for a class of products where we have gathered data ourselves and from our major importers. We look at the products themselves, whether they can be made within our brand values, potential manufacturers for these products, price point, competition, distribution and most importantly the size of the market, potential market share we could gain. It certainly feels a far cry from where it all began with our Original Beetroot Ketchup which started as a kitchen project with the children to teach them to cook with a surplus of beetroot and apples. We spent three years in the family kitchen developing this product, testing it out on family and friends. During which time I took pictures of all the condiments shelves in all my favourite stores looking for a market opportunity for our all natural flavoured ketchup. Once I was convinced there was an opportunity we worked on branding the branding and finally by booking a small producers stand at a trade show with a box of handmade samples to get proof of concept that there was actually a market before launching the company in earnest. 

There are always emails to catch up on. My co-founder and a member of team are exhibiting at a trade show in New York and so it’s nice to hear how it’s going and I need to catch up with the manufacturers and suppliers on upcoming production runs for our existing product ranges, and calls with the rest of the team on various different ongoing day to day business. However, I need to dash back as it’s parents evening for my youngest and I make it to her school just in time to meet my husband before sitting down with her teacher.

LOW-2054

Tuesday I start the day by dropping the kids at school, early doors as usual and go for a quick run through Hatfield Forest on my way back. It’s hard to fit exercise in around work and family commitments, so I like to make it part of my daily routine as much as possible. Running is time efficient and I like to be outdoors as much as I can as it really helps to clear my mind for the day. On a purely spiritual level, starting your day in an ancient forest puts everything into perspective!

I am working in the kitchen today on NPD (new product development) on adding products to an existing range and ideas for a new range altogether. This means a lot of time spent on research and time spent in the kitchen developing recipes by trial and error. I put music on whilst I work in the kitchen, and get all the ingredients and utensils out and plan what I am going to do. It pays to be really organised at this stage, and I fastidiously note down and to keep track of any changes I make with each version of any recipe. This is the favourite part of my job. At the moment I’m learning about a new type of preservation process, which is absolutely fascinating and I have spent hours on YouTube and looking at and trialing various recipes and ideas. I always feel a huge sense of excitement whenever I initiate a new range idea. The process from product inception to the shelf of a supermarket can be a long drawn out and painstaking process which is very involved and you need to invest a lot of time throughout the process so you need a lot of energy and passion for the product to take it through to market. When I am happy with a kitchen recipe for a product and have done the basic costings and understood price points by doing a feasibility exercise I will source and take the recipe to a manufacturer where we will work on manufacturing costings and their kitchen recipe to replicate my kitchen recipe. We have a confidentiality agreement in place with anyone we work with (read more about Trade Secrets in this Irn Bru case study). This next stage can go on for months, one product had so many countless kitchen version from the factory that weren’t quite right I started to feel so despondent that this product would never reach the shelf. It did, and I am really glad that we were so thorough and patient with this stage of development. When you are happy with their kitchen trial, then it can go on to the factory trial stage, which is a smaller scale version of full scale production the factory itself. This is when you may find you will need to tweak the recipe and method again to suit the machines, cooking and the factory processes. It’s always trial and error at each and every stage with larger volumes at stake but we are always learning. 

I clear the kitchen, fill the fridge and shelves with my samples, file my notes, shower and get into my evening wear as I am attending an awards ceremony tonight. However, my daughter is competing in her first swimming gala after school today so I need to be there for that first as it’s on my way. I look rather overdressed standing at the poolside cheering my daughter and her school on in a bright red cocktail dress and heels - but she was amazing and so were her whole team so I am bursting with pride and have no time to be self-conscious as I have a train to catch! The event is the Chef’s Choice Awards at The Shard in London, it’s a Food Service Catering Awards event to celebrate the best products in the catering industry. We have created a new food service format for our range of All Natural Beetroot Ketchups to reach a new audience of customers - to date our offerings have only been available in a retail glass format.  We decided to enter the awards to support the launch in this market, raise awareness for the products and the brand with wholesalers and food service customers and ultimately boost sales! Our OOH (Out of Home) salesperson is also attending the event with me to ensure we make the most of the event, speak to all the right people and get and convert these leads into sales. It’s a fun evening and we strike up conversations with other suppliers and wholesalers. To our absolute joy we win the Condiment Category and amazement we win the overall Product of the Year! I’m grinning ear to ear on the train home, everyone is asleep when I get home and so I leave the award out on the kitchen table for my husband the kids to see in the morning and we can celebrate over cereal.

1052_FFMayo_Jul18-0204-WEB

Wednesday Drop kids into school, a quick run and then catch up with my emails and calls the team about the awards ceremony and decide who we need to follow up with and how. We put together a press release with quotes from the judges to send to relevant media contacts and potential leads. Interview with The Grocer magazine for their piece on the win.

Thursday Drop kids early and dash into London to meet the team in White City, the day is spent in and out of internal meetings. My co-founder and I tend to start the day with a management meeting, then we have a whole team meeting which gives us an update on what everyone is working on. Then we have a specific sales and production planning meeting afterwards to discuss sales figures and stock levels in all territories to manage stock and plan productions. 

Friday Back in the Shoreditch office to do an in-depth taste testing session and follow up on the Monday NPD (new product development) meeting. Our monthly Board call to discuss work in progress and priorities. No day is the same and as a founder of a start-up business I have done every role at some point from bookkeeping, packing boxes, trade shows to in-store sampling sessions, so you care passionately about every single detail of the business even if you now have team members doing these functions. I always want to be there to support them in any way I can. It may be Friday but you never really clock off but it’s nice to look forward to spending the weekend in the garden, digging over the vegetable beds with the chickens pecking for worms - chitting potatoes and planting strawberries plants in the polytunnel with the kids and planting new raspberry canes in the fruit cage. Back to where it all started in the garden with the kids. Spring is my favourite time of the year, full of potential and endless possibilities.

11 March 2019

A week in the life of... Angela Steel, founder and CEO of SuperWellness

Add comment

Angela is the founder of SuperWellness, a company that specialises in workplace well-being and nutrition. Since she started working with corporate clients in 2014, Angela’s mission has been to make ‘nutrition smart’ workplaces the norm. This means supporting employees to make diet and lifestyle choices which benefit both their mental and physical well-being, but also fit with working life. Angela is an alumni of our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme. SuperWellness’s range of services includes a Monthly Plan of eye-opening and engaging communications content, interactive workshops and programmes which deliver measurable results.

1

Monday After dealing with the most urgent emails, a long brisk walk to the station and off to my co-working space in Victoria. The commute takes well over an hour so it’s always tempting to stay and work from home but I get much more done when I’m in a buzzy atmosphere.

I focus on project work – a couple of new clients going live next week. One is running an Awareness Day in the City – a chance for us to inspire employees to join a longer term programme of their choice. The other is a global company organising a team meeting in Krakow. We’ll be providing a half-day mindfulness workshop kicking off our SuperMind programme, which the team will subsequently attend via webinar.

Tuesday I start the day early – at my desk by 7am – to prepare an email to our subscriber list. I want to gauge interest in a new subscription based well-being communications package planned for launch in April. Having pressed ‘send’ and with an eye on the responses (always an exciting moment), I get my head into our sales figures and projections for the month to come. I have my weekly call with one of my board advisors at 12pm, which helps me to stay on top of the numbers. With all of the business’s key performance indicators on a single page report, I can see at a glance how we’re doing and where we need to focus our attention. After a bite to eat, it’s off to a local park for some fresh air and a walk with my partner Johnny.

Wednesday I’m excited about my meeting today. I’m visiting a Charity near Canada Water to discuss a corporate partnership. The idea will be to donate 10% of revenue from our new subscription programme to support its mission to tackle food waste and fight hunger. Being into food and nutrition, the idea that 1 in 8 people in the UK go hungry is really difficult to accept. I spend a couple of hours being shown around the London warehouse and meeting the corporate fundraising team to discuss possibilities. I’m impressed by the quality of the food they get to redistribute and the fact that 50% of it is fresh produce. Fantastic!

I make my way back home in time for our 4pm monthly team meeting on Zoom. We have 15 associates around the UK and one of our challenges is to stay connected as a team where everyone works remotely. Most of our nutritionists run their clinical practice with private clients in parallel to their work with SuperWellness. We meet physically as a team every quarter and in between, keep in touch through our monthly online meetings. It’s a chance for everyone to share project updates, including new learnings. We also get to brainstorm solutions to challenges which come up. Our projects can be very bespoke and we have to be creative to fit specific work environments. Last year we delivered programmes on board six cross Channel ferries, which involved a lot of logistical planning.

2

Thursday Today I’m meeting with a potential client – a large construction company at the early stages of planning a well-being strategy. One of the most exciting, but also challenging aspects of our industry is that it’s still in its infancy really. More and more employers are considering well-being as a part of their business strategy and seeing the benefits it can bring to the business.

I learn about the company’s challenges and begin to brainstorm some ideas. At this stage the next step is to win buy-in to the overall plan from the board of directors and secure budget for a project next year. I promise to follow up with an outline of a business case to help my contact present her initial plan.

I open an email from one of our clients with fantastic feedback from a recent ‘Ready Steady Smoothie!” competition with their staff. Nice way to end the day.

Friday I begin the day with a 30-minute workout at my local kickboxing gym. It usually takes a bit of motivation to get going, but I find the high intensity exercise amazing for my energy and mood. I can feel the endorphins flowing after this! It sets me up for a day of writing and creating content for one of our workplace posters, called Switch off and Take a Break. I read through the latest studies on the subject, highlight the content I feel will be most insightful and then start writing the tips for the poster. The result will go to the designer next week to create our poster infographic for August.

Weekend Saturday is my day of rest. Johnny and I will often have a day out and I’ll switch off completely from work. I’m trying to keep Sundays off bounds too but it’s not always the case. After relaxing with the Sunday papers and a walk, today I have to organise a shipment of binders ready for the SuperMind programme being run in Krakow in a couple of weeks’ time. I can start next week feeling all is under control – well for now at least...

3

04 March 2019

Targeting your audience through blogging

Add comment

Here are some top tips from our partner UK2 on best ways to target your audience through blogging. UK2 is one of the UK’s leading hosting providers with over 20 years’ experience providing services to the UK's finest start-ups and businesses. To see more from their blog, click here.

Creating a website to share your message is an incredibly exciting time, and often turns out to be a lot more work than many realise. Website tools and platforms are great at helping you create a place to share, but not as helpful when deciding what to say and who to say it to...

Whether you are an ecommerce business looking to add a blog or an individual blogger looking for growth, having a firm grasp on who you are writing for is a crucial attribute to your online success. Far too many bloggers focus on what they are writing rather than who is reading your valuable information. In reality, once you find loyal blog followers, they will be interested in your topics because they are interested in you.

However, identifying this audience is 90% of the battle. In this post we will help you identify exactly who you should be targeting with your content creation. We will offer helpful tips for identifying your audience and creating a blogging strategy for the future.

Shutterstock_387831115

Why pinpoint an audience?

It may seem like a lot of work to target a specific group of people, especially when broadcasting your content around the globe feels like a such an enormous group.

Unfortunately, writing content for the entire world will yield very few results. Your message will quickly be drowned out by the hundreds of thousands of other voices all competing for attention.

Instead, you must target a specific demographic of readers to speak to. By pinpointing your audience, you can specialise the message you send and gather more engagement for your website. To be a truly great content creator, your audience must relate to the message you send. By understanding your audience, who they are, and what they want, you harness a powerful form of focus to widely spread your content.

Sighting in your scope

It can be easy to fall back on industry knowledge for your blog content. However, your audience most likely doesn’t want to learn how to do what you do. Instead, they would rather pay you to do it for them, with either actual money or their attention. This is not to say that how-to guides don’t serve a purpose, they absolutely do as long as you keep in mind that you are not the star of your blog: your customer or reader is.

So how do you learn enough about your customer to appeal to them? Let’s look at some methods for reaching this goal…

What do you already know?

Brainstorm everything you know about your current audience. Where do they live? What are their job titles? Use any resources that you may currently employ like Facebook Ad pages or LinkedIn contacts. Make lists of who currently engages the most with your brand or persona. If you are an ecommerce business, think about who is currently purchasing your products. What do you know about your customers? If you are in the early stages of building an online presence, you won’t have much to work with. However, any details that you can set in stone will help build a foundation for your eventual targeted audience.

What do you still need to learn?

Use Google Analytics or other site analytics tools to reach as many readers as possible. Look for important information like age, gender, education and income levels, location, occupation, and other background information. Don’t be shy about creating fictional readers in your mind. Large corporations will often create personas to represent their various targeted demographics.

Engage and evaluate!

The next step is to engage with your audience as much as possible. You might consider turning on your comment option for your blog as well as investing additional hours on social media platforms.

Once you have a pretty good picture of who you are creating content for, ask yourself if this audience is enough to meet your goals. If your answer is no, then go back to the beginning and broaden your scope as much as necessary. However, keep in mind that “everyone” is not an adequate audience. You cannot appeal to everyone all the time, so try to pinpoint and drill down as much as possible.

Important note: You should spend just as much time promoting your content as you do writing it. Blogging is a two-fold process of creating and sharing your message with your audience.

Consider all the variables

There’s a lot to keep in mind while writing your blog posts. Creating content alone isn’t enough. You also have to consider how your content will affect your brand, your marketability, and your search results. Try out the content exercises below to vary your reach and boost your blog:

Follow the experts

To be truly valuable as an expert content creator, you have to know who is doing (and writing) what in the digital space. Be sure to take a look at QuickSprout’s Complete Guide To Building Your Blog Audience.

Along with the tested and true content creators like Brian Clark from Copyblogger and Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz, pay attention to who is trending in your specific industry. For example, if you are writing about technology, it’s worth following TechCrunch and Gizmodo. However, if you are in the beauty industry, then you should follow Zoe Sugg and Refinery29.  

Keep Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in mind

SEO can be tough for bloggers who focus on writing and promotion. There is a different thought process that goes towards satisfying search algorithms. Luckily, there are many resources available to help you turn pesky search results into a stream of organic traffic. Use Google Analytics to help you find keywords, and employ an SEO tool like Website SEO Guru to help you stay on top of meta descriptions, broken links, and other areas of your website that could damage your search engine results.

Promote your blog on social media

Social media is a great way to draw attention to your blog. It also helps you identify who is interacting with your brand. Profile pages contain basic yet crucial information about the people who are reading your blog posts. Make sure that you just focus on a few social media pages and update them regularly. Do not share posts that could be seen as offensive to your audience and interact with readers as much as possible. Well-managed social media accounts open up a window onto your audience if handled appropriately.

Start with a great platform

Having the right hosting platform affects your website more than anything we’ve covered so far. You need a host who focuses on security, uptime, and speed to be sure that your web pages are available when readers find your website. Your website will also need the proper tools to drive traffic, such as Website Builder, for example, which comes with everything you need to get online, or WordPress, a preferred blogging platform.

Your web host helps you find the perfect domain, the best website platform, and the tools you need to maintain a prosperous blog. Partner with a web host with the reputation, experience, and expertise to help you along the way. Learn more about what you can expect from industry-leading web hosts at UK2.NET.

Extra 10 Button

To see all of our upcoming workshops, webinars and events, including ones from UK2, visit our Events page

18 February 2019

12 tips for starting up a fashion business

Add comment

As London Fashion Week is coming to an end and to coincide with the new season, The British Fashion Council, who organise the bi-annual event, have released figures from Mintel showing the fashion industry directly contributed £32.3bn to the UK GDP in 2017.

This represents a 5.4% increase after 2016; a growth rate 1.6% higher than the rest of the economy. Womenswear represents 51% of the fashion market, with menswear accounting for 26%.

However, despite the importance of the sector, it is one of the hardest to succeed in, due to high start-up costs, sizeable competition and the diversity of products available.

So it’s essential for anyone starting up a fashion business, to have a business plan in place outlining their strategy, and to understand where their fashion brand or idea sits in the overall marketplace.

Cropped headshot2

Fashion Angel is a fashion business accelerator offering mentoring, workshops (including at the Business & IP Centre) and access to funding to both new and established fashion industry entrepreneurs. Alison Lewy MBE, Fashion Angel founder and author of Design, Create, Sell – a guide to starting a successful fashion business, gives some top tips for anyone planning to start a new fashion business:

  1. Develop a business plan before you start – a business plan is your personal roadmap outlining your goals, visions and objectives and not just needed for raising finance. It will be central to your business development and be a useful tool to measure your progress against your projections.
  2. Don’t underestimate your start-up costs – fashion business start-up costs can be high so avoid nasty surprises and list all your potential costs. Include the cost of your sample collection, stock, equipment, marketing materials, website, IP and professional fees, insurance, and of course any deposits required for rent or utilities.
  3. Research the marketplace – find out about the size of the market for your type of product and whether it’s an expanding area. The British Library’s Business & IP Centre is a very useful resource for this as has numerous up-to-date fashion sector specific market research reports you can access for free. Identify your key competitors and analyse their business and marketing strategies. This will help you define your competitive edge and what differentiates your brand from other similar products.
  4. Create a strong brand – your visual branding and brand story are central to the way the public perceives your label. Your customers should develop an emotional connection, and brands that create a strong identity are the ones most likely to endure.
  5. Profile your target customer/s – conduct primary research to understand your customers’ buying and lifestyle habits and create profiles for each type of potential customer. Keep this information in mind when you are designing your collection/products and setting your prices. Remember, you are not designing for yourself!
  6. Plan your product range – offer a focused tight collection to start with, and do it well, rather than try to please everyone. It will be easier to produce too! You can diversify and expand once you have built your reputation and have sales history to base decisions on.
  7. Identify your sales channels – think about your route to market and how you will reach your customers. Do you plan to be a wholesale business selling to retailers? If so how will you manage this? If selling direct to the consumer, are you planning to open a bricks and mortar shop or will it be online or both?
  8. Work out a marketing plan – you may have an amazing product and lovely website, but how are people going to know about it? The marketing strategy is a key element of any business plan and should detail how you will promote the business, and budget needed accordingly.
  9. Adopt a realistic pricing strategy – your pricing must be in line with similar offerings in the marketplace. Unless you are a well-known luxury brand, every product has a ceiling price that customers will pay.
  10. Offer excellent quality and customer service – this area allows a small business to shine and can give you a competitive advantage. Reputation takes a long time to build but can be destroyed very quickly. Customers expect value for money whether you are operating at the value or luxury end of the market.
  11. Keep a tight control of your finances – monitor your cash flow on a regular basis, this will help you foresee any potential problems arising and allow you to find solutions, rather than suddenly being faced with not being able to pay your bills or suppliers.
  12. Take advantage of any networking opportunities – you’ll need all the help you can get, so make sure you tell everyone you meet what your business does. Always carry business cards with you and always ask for one, so you can start to build your own database of useful contacts.

Starting a fashion business isn’t easy, but with passion, drive and a clear vision it can be one of the most exciting and rewarding industries to work in.

To see all of the Business & IP Centre's upcoming workshops, click here.

Fashion Angel

14 February 2019

Brexit resources available

Add comment

It's an uncertain time for many businesses around the UK regardless of whether Brexit goes ahead with or without a deal. We've compiled a list of resources currently available to help you find the information you are looking for. 

Prepare your business for EU Exit

CAB18635_1400x500-banners_Generic-Business

Use the information from the Government to understand how leaving the EU may affect your business and what you can do to get ready, including guides on employing EU citizens, importing and exporting, intellectual property and funding, amongst others.

Brexit Business Resource Hub

Brexit-3-002

The London Growth Hub and the Mayor of London have launched this new Brexit Business Resource Hub, bringing together key resources from a range of partners to help with business planning, support for mapping business areas with potential exposure to Brexit.

Using personal data after Brexit

_MG_7199

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has put together an online resource on what to do if there are changes to the rules governing the use of personal data. You can also access slides from their recent webinar series, Preparing for Brexit.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have recorded their webinar on personal data transfers in a No Deal scenario. Download How to Brexit-proof your business data

The Institute of Export and International Trade Customs Procedures and Documentation

Adobestock_24172267_resized

A comprehensive look at the information that is required to be submitted to customs to enable goods to be imported and exported. It also looks at the differences between EU and non-EU trade. 

IP and Brexit: the facts

IP

The Intellectual Property Office's facts on the future of intellectual property laws following the decision that the UK will leave the EU.

12 February 2019

A week in the life of... Rachel Walker, co-founder of The Fold Line

Add comment

Rachel is a co-founder of The Fold Line, an award-winning online sewing community and sewing pattern shop. Championing independent pattern designers, they are the one stop shop for all your dressmaking pattern needs. Founded in 2015 they are the home for people who love sewing and making their own clothes and are alumni of our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme.

With a background in science research, it wasn’t until after finishing her PhD that Rachel decided she wanted a career change. She started to work part-time for a sewing company in London, teaching classes and helping at events, as she had always enjoyed sewing as a hobby. She then retrained in pattern cutting and over the next year, moved into overseeing pattern production and development, using the project management skills she had gained from her studies. During this time she met Kate (co-founder) and after a couple of months they decided to start a business together.

As avid makers, Rachel and Kate struggled to keep up with all the sewing pattern releases and growing number of bloggers sharing their makes and tips. They were inspired by the growing online sewing community to build a home for everyone interested in dressmaking. From this The Fold Line was born, a place you can meet other makers, share tips and ideas and get lots of inspiration for your next project while keeping up-to-date with the latest sewing news and pattern releases.

Kate and Rachel 2

You can expect to find lots of inspiration and catch up on all the latest sewing news on their sewing blog and vlog. They also have an extensive sewing pattern database where you can use a pattern finder tool to search over 10,000 patterns plus read lots of sewing pattern reviews from the community. 

Monday The first thing I do on a Monday morning is take my enthusiastic Labrador for a long walk to tire him out. Once back home I begin the week with catching up on everything that has been going on over the weekend. I reply to any outstanding emails, pay invoices and browse social media channels for news in the sewing community. I also take the time to reply to questions and comments from our community of makers on our website and social media.

In the afternoon I plan out my tasks for the week ahead and check we have everything we need. I will usually spend the rest of the day on accounts, making sure our freelancers are paid and looking at our spending over the last week.

Tuesday Another long dog walk. When back at home I start the day by emailing the freelancers who work with us on creating content and sharing it across our social media channels. I’ll also order more stock for our warehouse and check on the status of orders that need to be sent out.

In the afternoon I will work on one of our consulting jobs, creating content and scheduling it for the week ahead.

Wednesday First thing in the morning I photograph any sewing patterns that have been delivered so that we can get the new products added to our website. Later in the morning I visit our warehouse and the team that picks and packs all the orders that go out from our online shop. It’s a good opportunity to take any new stock with me and also talk through problems with the team.

In the afternoon I email new pattern designers about adding their sewing patterns to our new online shop. I’ll also update stock levels depending on what products I took to the warehouse. I’ll also spend time on social media looking for new sewing challenges people can take part in, sewing meet ups that have been arranged and sewing pattern releases so we have new content to share with the community.

The Fold Line new website - pattern page

Thursday Another long dog walk! I then meet up with Kate, who is the other founder and director at The Fold Line. Over tea we talk about how we are getting on with big projects we have planned and chat through any difficulties we’ve had during the week. We also analyse sales of sewing patterns from our online shop and look at current trends. We brainstorm about new content for blogs over the coming months as well. If it’s been a challenging week we will treat ourselves to a nice lunch!

In the afternoon I’ll update our diaries and schedule with the plans we have made. I’ll also do more work on one of our consulting jobs.

Friday I usually spend Fridays working on the second consulting job we do, designing and testing creative content for publication.

Weekend We often attend sewing meet ups on Saturdays where we join a group of sewing enthusiasts for fabric shopping or a fashion exhibition. We might also be guest judges of handmade outfits at sewing parties. On Sundays I try not to work. If I have time I’ll try and do a bit of sewing for myself and make a garment such as a top or jacket. I do like to reply to all the emails that we have received over the weekend on a Sunday evening so that I can start Monday with an empty inbox!

05 February 2019

A week in the life of... Merilee Karr, founder and CEO of UnderTheDoormat

Add comment

American by origin, Merilee Karr is an adopted Brit, having lived in London for the last 18 years, always in the southwest near Putney. She founded London’s premier short-term lettings company back in 2014 and is an alumni of our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme. Passionate about providing visitors with a ‘home from home’ experience and not leaving homes empty when their owners are away, when others could enjoy them, UnderTheDoormat was born. Now hosting over 200 homes and attracting over 5,000 visitors a year, UnderTheDoormat is paving the way for 'responsible short-letting’ across London, for both homeowners and guests to enjoy. 

Merilee Karr Pic

A typical day for me is varied – and no two are ever quite the same! As a founder of a young and growing company, it’s important to be ‘hands on’ in the running of the company. On the flip side, my role involves a lot of external focus to grow the business and includes everything from speaking at conferences, meeting with property companies for partnerships, carving out potential strategic partnerships with suppliers and of course meeting new investors and keeping my current investors and board members up-to-date. Every day is a challenge for me, and I love it when I have a combination of internal and external things are on my to-do list.

My ‘work day’ can include any of the following:

  • A team meeting going through our monthly results and key metrics for the business
  • An external meeting with Westminster council or an MP about the industry standards we are building and how we can make them effective as we roll them out
  • Releasing payments to suppliers and paying our homeowners the money they earned from working with us
  • Lunch or coffee with a fellow founder of a sharing economy business to discuss our businesses and potential to collaborate
  • A meeting with a property company or developer about partnering to provide them with short-let options for their portfolios
  • Developing a bespoke proposal following that meeting with a business case for working with us and the value we can deliver
  • Phone call or meeting with a potential homeowner looking to let their home with us
  • A PR meeting with STAA (Short-term Accommodation Association) for which I currently sit as Chair. I take this role extremely seriously as it promotes ‘responsible’ short-term letting which is the key USP of UnderTheDoormat
  • Media interviews and discussions – particularly with property press or newspapers like the Evening Standard
  • Increasingly I am asked to speak at conferences as the spokesperson for the industry. With three planned this month already it’s a busy time and I thoroughly enjoy these. It's great for networking and learning what other people are doing in our sector and beyond. 

My time away from the job is also important to me. Outside of office hours, it's fair to say I combine more work(!) and my love of sport, keeping fit and keeping up with friends. This is my usual schedule of extra-curricular activities:

Tuesday morning I run with a friend (someone who I went to University with in Virginia who lives around the corner in London).

Tuesday or Wednesday evening Typically, a work event of some type- e.g. Tourism society conference speaking or Supper Club CEO’s dinner.

Thursday evenings are triathlon training - usually a swim followed by a social in the pub - I always order a pepperoni pizza and an apple juice and soda!

Saturday mornings are my club cycle ride which I find hugely enjoyable. My favourite is the Windsor ride via the Great Park (you really get to feel the seasons through the year and looking down at the castle from the top of the long walk never gets old). We stop for coffee at the Cinnamon Café and get gigantic cinnamon buns before heading back.   

Saturday evening Drinks or dinner with friends. This week I have a friend’s leaving drinks as she is moving to Hong Kong. 

Sunday Lie in day! Generally, it’s a morning of doing stuff around the house and then heading out for a walk and lunch with friends. I then swim in the evening which is a great way to set myself up positively for the start of the week. 

23 January 2019

A week in the life of... Dr Jan Kattein, founding director of Jan Kattein Architects

Add comment

Dr Jan Kattein is founding director of Jan Kattein Architects, a design studio that advocates socially engaged working methods. The practice embraces design as an opportunity for dialogue and exchange. Their work strives to make a civic contribution, using design as a means to support economic, cultural, educational and social prosperity. Jan took part in the British Library's Business & IP Centre’s Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme in 2018 and is now working with Global Generation to design a community garden to support the Library's outreach programme.

Monday... I was hoping for a slow start in January, but there are already a raft of emails in the inbox, annual staff reviews need to be scheduled, a tender is due later this week, a new member of staff is joining the team and a number of new projects are starting.

The week starts with a meeting with Westminster Council's regeneration team. Westminster have firmly committed to consultation and dialogue with their communities around regeneration projects and have set up a series of local regeneration bases in several areas of the borough. Regeneration has attained a somewhat tainted reputation in recent years because it is often associated with displacement of communities and gentrification of neighbourhoods. Whilst I understand the root of these concerns, I can also see the very tangible benefits that an inclusive approach to regeneration can bring for local people. When embracing the Mayor's principles of 'Good Growth', regeneration is principally about creating opportunities for all sections of society. And this is mainly what our work is about at Jan Kattein Architects. Working together with local authorities, the private sector and the third sector, we can unlock educational, economic or cultural potential in projects and find a way of using the design process as a means to bringing greater community coherence. I often think that as a profession we need to become much better at accepting accountability for our work. In the knowledge that an inclusive city is a more prosperous city, the smart players in the private sector are doing that already and local authorities are increasingly taking the view that an integrated and transparent way of working brings real tangible benefits. Architects have traditionally had the role of synthesizing a range of different parameters that allow the built environment to function and are well placed to act as mediators between the various interests that inevitably collide when working in urban regeneration.

Morden High Street Regeneration
Morden High Street regeneration

Back at the office, I need to put the finishing touches to a tender submission. Tower Hamlets Council have invited us to submit a bid for a small high street regeneration project in Roman Road. High streets are such an important part of civic life and London would not be London without its 600 high streets, the jobs they provide, the contribution they make to public life and the cultural diversity they bring. I have now been involved in delivering some 30 or so high street regeneration projects in London. In high street regeneration our engaged way of working finds particular bearing. The aim of our work is never just about physical change, it's about shifting people's perception of their environment, about sewing a seed for a mindset change and instil confidence in a struggling but vital sector of our economy. There are challenging years ahead for the high street and if we really want to protect this important civic asset, we have to come up with some inventive new uses that service communities and the experience economy. We also need to carefully consider our spending habits and the tax regime that currently creates an uneven playing field which is heavily skewed to benefit multi-nationals.

Tuesday Today starts with a talk at the Cass School of Art and Design. I still lecture and teach at intervals. I am pleased to give a share of my time to a new generation of designers and thinkers making their way through university, but am also aware of the contribution that this interaction makes to rehearsing and disseminating our message. I have found that the communication of our work relies on a thoughtful and nuanced message which is best brought in person, with patience and the opportunity for critical discussion.

Church Street Regeneration
Church Street regeneration public consultation

In the afternoon an internal resourcing meeting. We introduced these weekly meetings to better manage workloads and to predict capacity. The challenge with our work is that things are rarely predictable. What we do is subject to public scrutiny, brief changes, political whim and an evolving social or economic context. Whilst these are challenges that are tricky to manage when running a business, it makes our work profoundly human too and that's why I am happy to tolerate uncertainty and why everyone at Jan Kattein Architects needs to become a master at improvisation.

Wednesday Staff reviews today. Our office is open plan and designed to encourage social interaction. The arrangement of our workspace is a direct representation of the horizontal management structure that we are striving to achieve. A supportive environment where people talk to each other and lend a hand or provide advice informally is critical to everyone giving their best. The downside of our office space is that there is very little privacy; so that a private conversation has to take place at the local pizzeria. This year, that's exactly where we are doing staff reviews, over lunch. It's been beneficial so far, getting out and away from the desk has brought about some friendly but frank conversations. We clearly have to review how we support our team. I suppose the crux with horizontal management is that the level of responsibility taken on by staff needs to be matched by just as much support, empathy and engagement. I always thought we were doing quite well in this field, but I suppose one can always do better.

Jan Kattein Architects office
Jan Kattein Architects office in Islington

Thursday Good news this morning. Camden Council have emailed the planning permission letter for our designs of the Story Garden, a new temporary community garden for Somers Town residents behind the British Library. The project was conceived in a partnership between educational charity Global Generation, the British Library, Stanhope and Central St. Martin's College (CSM) to create an ecological outdoor education space on a disused site just north of the Library. Enabled by the Library and Stanhope and through Camden Giving and the Mayor's Greenspace Fund, the garden will host workshops and events, provide growing space for local people and a maker space for CSM students until the end of 2020. A community-built straw bale roundhouse will provide a field classroom, a public kitchen, a sheltered outdoor dining space and small office are the communal hub of the garden. CSM are bringing a digital workshop onto site and a commercial greenhouse will provide all-season growing space for food and to propagate shrub and tree seedlings ultimately to be planted in estates, parks and squares throughout Somers Town. The space will also be used by the British Library to work on community learning, business and engagement projects.

Story Garden
Story Garden at the British Library

Friday Spanish Architecture Magazine A+T have published a six page spread about our Skip Garden project in King's Cross. It's a real joy to read how others perceive one's work.

In the afternoon meeting at Lendlease's office in Elephant & Castle to present the designs for a temporary place making installation that will form part of a large-scale regeneration project. Interesting discussions about what makes a good street and a good public space, how to foster cultural activity in a new neighbourhood and how to respond flexibly to people's changing needs in the urban environment.

Blue House Yard
Blue House Yard meanwhile village in Wood Green, London

I really enjoy working on meanwhile projects because they are a great platform for design innovation and because they provide an opportunity to engage with communities and start a dialogue about the sort of place where we all want to live without quite committing to a permanent and finite solution. After all, some of the world's famous landmarks like Gustave Eiffel's tower in Paris and the London Eye started their life as temporary projects - and I wonder whether they'd ever have received planning permission in the first place if they had been conceived as permanent structures from the outset. Temporary projects have made a really valuable contribution to the way we think about architecture and urbanism during the last decade.

Back in the office, an internal review of our exhibition design for the forthcoming Spare Parts exhibition at the Science Gallery at King's College. We have made the decision to manufacture the exhibition components ourselves. Just like most other architects, we work with contractors, specialist fabricators and makers to realise our designs. But ever so often, we build ourselves, sometimes as a team at Jan Kattein Architects, sometimes together with communities, apprentices or craftsmen. Building together engages the team, teaches new skills and provides room for experimentation and innovation - and as architects it makes us better at instructing others to build. If you are free, come to the Spare Parts exhibition opening on Thursday 28 February 2019!

I enjoy the heterogeneity of my work, the fact that what I do makes a difference to people's lives and the day to day interactions with my team, but now I am happy that it's Friday.

18 January 2019

Five tips to drive traffic to your website

Add comment

Grow are small business marketing consultants, whose founder and MD, Alasdair Inglis, is the Marketing Expert in Residence at the Business & IP Centre. Here they give us five tips to help drive traffic to your website.

 

You had to build a website for your business, that much was clear. You designed and honed your site until it was ready. Then what?

Like many people, your website is all dressed up and ready to go, but where's the traffic?

There are lots of brilliant websites like yours selling great products and services but don't have the traffic they need to be successful. If you find yourself at this point, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will run through some basic techniques to help your site rank on Google and get traffic.

  1. Find the right keyword phrases for your web pages

Keywords are the building blocks of how search engines work. Keywords are crucial for driving traffic to your website for free. When people perform Google searches, an algorithm decides what content to show them. You need to tell the search engine that yours is the best result to show. Using keywords throughout your web pages helps Google understand what you offer and when you should appear.

There's also a bit of a catch. Some keywords are so popular that you haven't much chance of ever ranking for them. If you tried to rank a web page for the keyword, chocolate, you will struggle.

The trick is to find less-popular keyword phrases e.g. "Where can I buy organic chocolate?", where you might be able to rank for the phrase, but you'll never rank for the keyword chocolate alone as it's just too competitive!

Targeting the right keyword phrases is crucial. When researching for the best keyword phrases, the key is to find the balance between low enough competition and high enough volume. There are many ways to do keyword research, and some software packages such as SEM Rush give you an idea of how hard it is to rank a keyword phrase in Google.

  1. Putting your keywords to work

Close-up-key-keyboard-39389

Sadly, it's not quite as easy as just putting the right keywords on your web page. You need to optimise your web pages in order for search engines to rank the web page for a particular search term.

Think about it from Google's point of view. Every person that searches is their customer – and they want to provide the very best service to that customer to keep them coming back (it seems to be working!). To do that they must strive to eliminate poorly written and irrelevant content and anything that could deliver a bad experience to their customer. Optimising your site is saying to Google, "I'm here, I've got good content, and my site is worth showing".  We’ve written a detailed guide to optimising your web pages.

  1. Create your content

Once you know your keyword phrases, it's time to start creating content. Many people dip their toe in the water with a blog. If you're reading this and can write, congratulations, you're qualified to create a blog!

Some find writing daunting, and others don't enjoy the process. Luckily for those people (and writers, too!), we're in the age of video content. Video content is on the rise at the moment and generally receives higher engagement.

A combination of text and video might be the ideal way to boost social media shares and links to your blog– and therefore your search rankings!

Typewriter-1248088_1920

*Tool tip: Yoast SEO is a great little tool for free on-page blog optimisation. If you're using WordPress, give it a try! If not, set up an account and test your content with Yoast before posting text your site!

  1. Get other websites to link to your web pages.

It seems strange to think about, but the internet is just a collection of pages linked to each other. Links are the fabric of the internet. Search engines know this and use links to help them work out the quality of websites and web pages.

The more links from quality sites that point to your website, the more important Google knows your website is. Quality links are one of the major ways Google and Bing rank your pages. If your chocolate-themed website is linked to from chocolate-lovers blogs and chocolatiers’ groups, great!

Link building (the process of acquiring links from relevant quality websites to your content) can happen quite naturally. If you have great content, people will often link to you. Millions of links are being created daily without anybody asking for them.

Sometimes, the organic way can be a little slow. Especially right at the start! If nobody sees your content, nobody can link to it. An outreach programme can be a good bet. Dust-off your best email manners and contact other businesses, make connections and show them what great resources you have! Once you have a good network within your niche, it will be easier to pick up links along the way. This process can be carried out with a relatively low budget by using mail merge software, but it can be time-consuming.

There are a number of different strategies you can use, such as contacting bloggers who write about your niche and asking them to link to a useful article you’ve written, is a great way to get a link. Bloggers are usually keen to be the first to break some news or get involved with something fresh. Perhaps think about what you can offer them in return? Sometimes sending them a product to review is a great way to do this. 

Another common link building strategy is to offer a complimentary guest post to a high-quality website. You will need to write an excellent guest post though!

  1. Use social media to share your content

Android-app-blog-267389

More than three billion people worldwide now use social media every month. That's also a lot of potential customers and website traffic back to your site!

Ensure that your social media profiles all link back to your website and that you're sharing your own content and driving traffic and engagement to your site.

Social media can also be an excellent tool for finding relevant bloggers and businesses to get links from and to share your content. Connect with people via Twitter and form a relationship. The clue is in the name… so be social!

Posting useful content, engaging with people and building your followers is a sure-fire way to increase traffic and promote your website. So, what are you waiting for? Your next blog, article or video post is just a few hours away.

Remember your keywords, build those links up and stay social.

Want to learn more digital marketing strategies with Grow? Visit our workshops and events page to see when their next Online marketing masterclass is running.