Archive for the ‘Retailing’ Category

Shopping on a Sunday

April 3, 2016

GV of the Northfield Shopping Centre.

I’m sitting in a really lovely, modern, state of the art shopping centre on a Sunday afternoon, my day off and wondering what the f### am I doing here?

Families are walking by looking miserable, a dad walks out with a crying child in his arms, couples walk by in a trance, a woman walks by all dressed up pushing her twins in a trendy double buggy looking depressed.

An older couple walk by linking arms and the train rolls by with mothers on their mobiles sitting in the carriages with their kids who gaze out at the rest of us.

A parent chases a kid running with a balloon and a teenager walks by drinking her trendy health juice.

Cappuccino in hand, shopping bag in the other, more buggies, more couples, more parents, more mothers and daughters, more teenagers… Bargains, new stock, special offers.

That’s it, this is my day off … I’m out of here!!

Never again..

The Grumpy old man..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

The Cobbler and Upselling

July 28, 2014

The Cobbler

Why didn’t he tell me the shoes needed new soles when I got the heels done?

Its a big pain in the butt to bring your shoes with you in a bag, take them to the cobblers, store your ticket and return a few days later to collect them.

When I took them to him the soles looked ok so I just asked him to do the heels.

Just a week later a hole appears on the sole of my just repaired shoes and we go through the whole routine again..very annoying!

Surely he spotted that the soles were weak and needed to be done? Why didn’t he tell me?

In a world where we are all encouraged to up-sell is he crazy, losing easy business I wonder?

Has this wise cobbler learnt from years of experience that he is better off just doing what the customer has asked for instead of suggesting extra things that may be needed and leaving the customer with the possible view that they are always being ‘sold‘ something and maybe not returning?

I would have liked to have avoided the unnecessary nuisance of returning a second time but I did wonder how I would have felt if he was suggesting some extra work that wasn’t that obvious to me.

– If the customer trusts you they will accept your recommendation

– If the customer hasn’t built up trust with you they may feel like they are being pressurised into spending more money unnecessarily and you may lose the sale

– Until your customer trusts you do your best to point out the hole.

If the hole isn’t that obvious you might be better doing a great job on the heel and they will be back ..

What do you think?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork




Big brands and the shopping bag test

July 14, 2014

Shopping Bags

We pop the boot open and the usual process of fishing out a bag or two to do our shopping starts.

I really hate having to do a big ‘weekly shop‘ so most of our shopping is done as required. The store we normally find ourselves at is Quish’s SuperValu where the staff are really friendly and it is the closest one to our home. While the selection of stock isn’t always too hectic it is a handy store for us and shopping there never feels like a chore.

When I pop the boot open I have to quickly grab a bag or two and I’m surprised how this simple exercise shows me how I feel about the different retailer brands and the ones I align with most.

My first choice is the SuperValu bag – after all, thats the shop I am going into and I feel its a good thing to bring a bag from the same store with you. It must drive a store manager nuts to see shoppers entering or leaving their store carrying a competitors shopping bag with them. I know it would really irritate me if a client came to us with some POS or other material from a competitor.

I also love the SuperValu franchise model and I feel this owner operator ethos leads to friendly community orientated stores often including a support and buy local agenda.

My next choice is the Marks & Spencer bag. This surprises me as I always like to support Irish but I do admire their dedication to quality food and I guess I am happy for that to be part of ‘my personal brand‘ as I do my shopping.

The M&S choice probably makes me look like a snob but my next bag choice would be either Aldi or Lidl. To be honest I can’t differentiate between either of these brands and regularly get them mixed up. I really don’t enjoy the shopping experience in these stores but I admire the simple value proposition and huge strides seem to have been made with quality and there seems to be a genuine effort to buy Irish. The adverts are working!

My next choice is Tesco. As a brand it still leaves me cold, with no stand out proposition but I do admire their Irish producers programme in conjunction with Bord Bia. Even though their share performance has been suffering they seem to believe that the Irish producers strategy will play a big role in winning in Ireland.

Bord Bia Tesco Supplier Development Programme

They are doing some great work with Irish producers improving their operations so they can do more business with Tesco.

My very last choice is the Dunnes Stores bag. Why is an Irish company, the one I should logically have an allegiance to, be the one that I connect with least? I really don’t get their brand proposition, I don’t understand it, I don’t see them connecting locally like SuperValu and nationally I don’t see any noise about supporting Irish – they could be the best at this but if they are I don’t know about it.

I know this is just my view and that my simple ‘picking a bag from the boot‘ analysis isn’t very scientific but then I look at the latest market shares in Ireland published in May 2014 and reported in the Irish Independent and see how closely aligned the reality is to my feelings.

German retailers Aldi and Lidl have continued to snap at the heels of Dunnes Stores, with the pair now commanding a combined 17.1pc share of Ireland’s multi-billion euro grocery market

Tesco retained its top ranking, but remains under pressure. Its market share fell 4.1pc to 26.3pc in the latest period, while Dunnes Stores also saw its position further weakened. Its share slipped 1.3pc to 21.6pc

SuperValu the chain controlled by the Cork-based Musgrave group – continues to snap at Tesco’s heels. Its share of the market, which includes its now rebranded Superquinn chain, rose 0.5pc to 25.1pc, confirming its second place in the supermarket wars

Industry insiders said the latest figures will be another wake-up call for both Tesco and Dunnes Stores in particular

Maybe Tesco and Dunnes Stores should do the shopping bag test?

How do customers feel when they pick up a bag from your store?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork




Amazon – Lessons in knowing your customer

September 16, 2013

Music Store

It’s Friday afternoon, I’m  up the walls after a really busy but great week.

Before the afternoon closes out I’m determined to clear down my emails..

There is an email from Amazon in the middle of all my other emails …before I hit “delete” the nice image catches my attention and I give the contents of the email a quick glance:

Reprave: Volcano Choir – BON IVER, new 2013 album from his collaborative side-project with fellow Wisconsin crew..

hmmm… I love Bon Iver, which of course Amazon will know from my previous transactions.

Click …it’s a new album

Click …the reviews are good

Click …buy (they have my credit card and delivery address already)

Bought in under 30 seconds!

AmazonI’ll avoid clicking or looking any more because they have recommendations for me, which are always so spot on that I end up buying more. They also show me some of the other music people have purchased who also bought this album – even more temptation.

Amazon must have the best, most intelligent database management system for e-commerce ever – ask my credit card!

Know your customer, understand what they like, write to them and remind them you exist, make recommendations,  make it easy for them to buy, update your database and start the cycle all over again.

Where was I?… Back to my emails

Note in diary: Send out an email to my database on Monday

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Go on – Personalise

August 5, 2013

I Love GregHi there!

Wouldn’t it be a lot better if “Hi Greg” had appeared on the email instead of the words “Hi there”?

Dear Customer,

Wouldn’t it be a lot better if “Dear Greg” appeared on the invitation to attend the launch event instead of “Dear Customer”?

The Manager

Wouldn’t it be a lot better if “Greg Canty” had appeared on the envelope and letter that accompanied the brochure instead of “The Manager”?

Price List

Wouldn’t it be a lot better if  “Fuzion price list” had appeared on the quote instead of a generic price list?


Wouldn’t it be a lot better to see “Reserved for Fuzion” on the restaurant table instead of a plain “reserved” sign.

It does take time to customise and personalise, it does take a little extra effort but your communication will resonate so much more when you can avoid being generic. (Personalising has never been so easy with the tools that are now available).

Often being generic can even have a negative effect and can have your customer feeling very “not so special“.

  1. If you can’t personalise think twice about communicating
  2. If you can personalise get it right – double check the spelling of people and company names
  3. Where personalising isn’t expected …personalise!

I received a CD in the post from an Amazon affiliate supplier and the docket had “thanks Greg” marked across it in marker – Wow!

Sometimes it’s really easy to stand out by doing just a little thing.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Creating a Wow

May 26, 2013
Love Actually

Will I wrap that sir?

We better bring some wine with us…

I stood in the Wine Buff off licence, browsed through the sections and  eventually selected a nice bottle of prosecco.

The really nice guy in the store commended me on my choice as he wrapped the bottle with care in a sheet of purple crepe paper and then placed it in a brown paper bag.

We arrived at our friends house and we handed over the bottle …hmm, this bottle was something extra special just because of the little sheet of purple paper that it was wrapped in.  I could see it in his face.

He seemed to place it away from all the other bottles that had been brought…maybe this was a bottle to be enjoyed in private and not opened at a party?

In truth the bottle was probably no better than all of the others lined up but it had a piece of purple crepe paper wrapped around it that made it stand out, that made it special, that gave it a special “wow”.

I hope they enjoyed it ..

Can you do something simple in your business to create a wow?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Check out a previous post – Are you throwing away the wow?

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Cork and Dublin in Ireland

Are you throwing away the Wow?

February 18, 2013

Fitting Carpets

We were excited as we pulled into the drive after a long day – after work we had to attend an event and eventually we were on the way home ..after midnight!

That day we knew the new carpets that we had ordered were laid and we were nervously looking forward to seeing our home transformed – the old carpets had been there for over 12 years and it was time for a change ..

After picking the carpets in the showroom you can never be quite sure if what you picked out actually does in fact work with the colours in the house – we were nervous but we were hoping that the little investment would be worth it and our home would be transformed for the better.

We opened the front door and switched on the hall lights ….

A wall of upset hit both of us as we saw the mess everywhere – the carpets were installed but the fitters had left the place like a bomb hit it. There were carpet cuttings everywhere, loose pieces of carpet, nails, broken grips. The fitters had stormed through the house moving furniture from one room to the other and returning them randomly, there was a pile of rubbish in the corner of the bedroom and the bedside lockers were stacked in the bathroom.

We couldn’t close the bedroom door because the carpet was a deeper pile – who would leave it without being able to close the door? We felt like the place had been violated, people had been in our home who didn’t give a damn how they left the place – nearly as if robbers had been through the place.

We were raging and really very upset. I wanted to just return all of the carpets  – Dee just wanted to go to bed but I knew I couldn’t face the mess in the morning and carry this horrible feeling into another day.

I started tidying, gathering up the nails, the loose pieces of carpet and I hoovered the whole place with Dee’s help. Miraculously after about 40 minutes the place transformed and we were able to see that the carpet was in fact gorgeous and despite our initial feelings it looked like the carpets were fitted really well!

We didn’t want this crew back in our home so we agreed to ask a friend in the morning to sort the door problem.

With just a little bit of extra care and attention and a quick tidy up, the carpet fitters could have easily delivered us a huge “Wow” but instead they carelessly threw this away and destroyed a great customer experience.

Sometimes when we are operating to tight budgets do we end up throwing away the valuable “wow” that ends up costing us a lot more in real terms?

The “wow” is the most important part of the whole transaction – don’t throw it away? 

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing & PR firm with offices in Cork and Dublin

Nothing like that here

January 18, 2013

London CallingI was 14, it was the summer of 1979 and my dad took me to London for the day to shop for records!

We took the ferry from Cork to Wales and a coach to London. We were supposed to arrive late at night, book into a hotel and then get up early for a days’ shopping – the poor coach driver took a wrong turn as a result of road works so we ended up pulling into London at 5 am

…there was no point booking into a hotel so we just grabbed a breakfast and wandered the streets until the shops opened.

We went to London quite simply because the music stores there were incredible – there was “nothing like that here“, just a few limited shops (Eason’s, Lee Records and Woolworths) with a tiny selection of records.

I’ll never forget that scorching summer’s day with my poor dad standing  patiently at the door of HMV and Virgin as I spent hour after hour browsing these mega-stores, shelf by shelf.   I can still remember the excitement in those stores – packed with possibility, undiscovered gems, fabulous artwork was theatre.

HMVI eventually purchased over 20 records, rare items, bargains and basically music that I just couldn’t buy in Ireland.

Another memory of that day was the huge amount of women walking around London wearing no bras!! It must have been fashionable but I had never seen the likes of it before and I can promise you it made a big impression on this impressionable 14 year old … between the lack of sleep, the intense heat and the “scenery”, I remember feeling quite dizzy!

As we know Ireland gradually caught up with London and even in Cork we ended up with Golden Discs, HMV and Virgin. My own love for music resulted in me opening my own stores …the dream of a 14 year old!

Despite all of our progress and advances in technology we are very close to a situation where there will be “nothing like that here” and even worse “nothing like that there” – HMV are nearly gone and the others are not far behind (I sold my stores a number of years back and the crew that bought them have since gone out of business).

Browsing for recordsWe can thank unsustainable rents, record companies who handed their Top sellers at big discounts to supermarkets, record companies who switched to digital technology that it couldn’t manage and music stores who lost their passion for music, for where we have ended up today.

That incredible feeling of browsing for magic in the shelves of music stores was one of the special things in my life that has brought me so much pleasure..


Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Making your street my route

September 9, 2012
shop front

Love your shop !

I love my coffee!

On a typical work day at some point I will pop out of the office for my daily fix – there are one or two coffee shops that I normally go to, each a few streets or blocks (for the American readers!) away.

To get there I can take a number of different routes with a choice of side streets to pop down along the way. I normally work out of our Cork office which is located on the main business street, which backs onto a city centre retail area.

When I think about the route I normally take, the choice of streets that I walk down is totally dictated by those that are the nicest, the most colourful, the most interesting and the most inviting.

On my route I pass shops with colourful windows, pubs with attractive frontage, flower shops with colourful displays, book stores with interesting books in the window, clothes shops with fashionable displays, sweet shops with enticing treats, buildings that are bright, and streets that are clean and welcoming.

There are always alternative routes – make sure you and your street work together to merchandise those windows, paint up those buildings and make customers choose your street as their route to wherever they are going.

Eventually they’ll pop in and buy something!

Greg Canty is a partner in Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing and PR firm with offices in Dublin and Cork

What are we teaching our young workers?

February 28, 2012
Young workers

Happy Workers?

My young friend of mine rang me last week all excited – she had been offered a full time job in a sports store in the city.

While she was thrilled she was a little bit upset because she would have to leave her current job, which was also in a sports store. She is a loyal creature, she liked working there, she had made good friends and it had been a real confidence booster for her.

Each week she was one of the best performers in the store, beating her weekly targets consistently and selling well above the other staff members.

So, why was she leaving ?

The store have one of these short sighted recession led policies of restricting  all staff members to just over 20 hours a week so that it would save money – I’m not sure if this was down to saving on breaks or savings due to PRSI class. Either way someone in the organisation set a policy of maximum hours per person to save money.

This money saving was deemed as being better for business than allowing your best people have the most hours – the difference in performance between the different sales staff was thousands of euros consistently each week. Who’s saving money?

Eventually my young friend was left quite demotivated, the penny dropped that no matter how well she performed it would make no difference to her hours or career prospects so she decided to shop for a better position.

Her very last experience with her existing employer was when she handed in her required two weeks notice. True to form she was punished and her hours were slashed in her last two weeks.

I have encouraged her to hold her head up high and to finish off her last days there professionally. Unfortunately she has been left a little disillusioned by one of her earliest work experiences in one of Ireland’s biggest retail chains. I know myself that all of these early experiences play a huge part in forming your attitude towards work and your employers.

What are we teaching our young workers?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion PR

(p.s. I have written to them out of curiosity to see what they have to say)


This post was actually about my daughter. She started her new job in another sports store and can’t believe the difference it is. They look after their staff really well and from the very first minute she was made feel really welcome and appreciated.  She is lucky to find such an employer and thankfully she is now learning more positive “work lessons”.

I was really annoyed about how she was treated by Lifestyle Sports so I wrote to them hoping for a response but also hoping that they might take the lesson on board. I never received a response to the email that I sent. Maybe this is a reflection of the culture that exists there or maybe it is just a coincidence?

Email to Lifestyle Sports: ( – see copy below:

Hi ,

I am writing to you to both thank you and express my disappointment with you as an employer.

My daughter has worked with you for nearly two years in a Cork store and despite being one of the top performers in her store with her targets etc she has been held back to the minimum amount of hours each week.

I understand this is a policy to minimise costs – this is a foolish policy when the net result is employees that perform well getting disenchanted as they lose out on hours to other staff. These are foolish savings that are costing your business money and are also demotivating to staff. Too many accountants (I started off life as one) getting their way!

Eventually she managed to secure a full time job with a competitor where she is starting off soon. I was thrilled for her when she was offered the post but she was upset as she had built up a loyalty to Lifestyle Sports.

The last bitter pill was when she handed in her required two weeks’ notice and her store manager “punished” her by slashing her hours..

What kind of spirit are you nurturing? Not only have you really upset her in her last two weeks but you have also upset her colleagues that she works with.

She will freak out when she knows I wrote this as she is frightened she won’t get a good reference.

I trust you will not let this email affect her reference.

As I said at the outset ….. thank you for employing her for the last two years but please, please review your internal policies. You are getting rid of and demotivating performers and undermining the excellent training you give them.

I would like a response to my email.


Greg Canty