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It’s Christmas at Liberty


Christmas was well and truly underway in one of London’s most infamous department stores as ShopperTrak tuned in to the third and final episode of Channel 4’s ‘Liberty of London.’ With only twenty-five days to go until Christmas, the episode touched on some of the everyday anxieties in the run-up to this busy period, with stock maintenance, longer opening hours and staff training all key challenges.

Know the customer

Knowing the customer is key, particularly in an environment such as Liberty in which the personal approach defines their brand identity. Each member of staff receives a client book of VIP shoppers and it is up to them to attend to this regularly and ringing clients directly to let them know about new stock or products.

When speaking about the shopping experience with head of menswear Will, one customer commented, ‘I like Will because he knows me and what I like. He knows what’s in and it’s just easy shopping.’

Consistently high service

This episode saw general manager Lee regularly gather the teams from each department to ensure that they were continually striving for top notch service in the run-up to Christmas. ‘How’s customer service been in menswear Will?’ he asked. ‘I think it’s been good,’ Will responded. ‘Being good isn’t good enough anymore, it’s all about being excellent and being the best. We need expert knowledge, that’s what our clients deserve and expect.’

Liberty also carries out a general meeting across all departments before opening each morning. In the run-up to Christmas, this included a spotlight session across each department where staff were asked to present a Christmas gift that they’re focusing on pushing that week and to chat through it in front of other teams.

Christmas shop and managing stock

Liberty, like many retailers during the festive season, has its own dedicated Christmas shop which general manager Lee runs like a ‘military operation.’ One of the biggest selling items is bauble tree decorations that, in the final episode, were selling at an average of two per minute. As well as running these through the till, staff needed to wrap the baubles in tissue paper which was increasing time spent in the queue for the shopper. Lee stepped in once more and gathered the staff together to ensure that standards remained high and that gift wrapping was speedy, not sloppy.

It’s essential that retailers are aware of their busy periods. Doing so will provide them with the insights needed to plan ahead, whether this means putting more staff on the shop floor, ensuring stock levels are up or using quieter periods to train staff.

Incentivise your staff

Incentivising your workforce is extremely important, particularly when encouraging staff to hit certain sales targets. The best sales staff at Liberty make roughly 4% commission which can result in huge bonuses – Will in menswear has already doubled his salary so far this year.

In the Christmas shop we saw similar drives, particularly when it came to selling certain items. The giant stuffed ‘Christmas bear’ costing nearly £2,000 (that was introduced to viewers in episode one) was finally sold by Christmas temp Faith who will be rewarded with something very special for the purchase.

Visual merchandising

Inevitably, Liberty attracts huge crowds, a large number of which are tourists. It’s important that retailers leverage window displays as much as possible in order to build a buzz and encourage shoppers to cross the threshold and make a purchase.

Since Liberty first opened its doors in 1875, the Christmas window displays have played an integral role in pre-empting Christmas and remain a fantastic way to showcase stock, particularly when keeping certain gift ideas front of mind. In its final episode, we saw Louis tasked with handling the unveiling of the windows and pulling off an ambitious light show.

Christmas is the busiest time of the year for retailers. Tensions were running high as staff on the shop floor welcomed record numbers of shoppers. However, with strong management, increased staff on the shop floor during busy periods (even office staff were pulled in at one point) the store managed to successfully deliver the personalised customer service synonymous with Liberty all year round. Let’s hope that they’ve since had time to wind down with a mince pie.

Published on Monday 23 December by Editorial Assistant

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