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Andrew Busby from Retail Reflections on content and social media marketing for retailers

Agnieszka Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 13 December 2017

Retail Reflections founder & CEO shares content marketing and social tips for professionals in retail

Retail Reflections logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there for Retail Reflections?

Andrew Busby (AB): I'm Andrew Busby, founder and CEO at Retail Reflections. Retail is my passion so when I'm not seeking new opportunities for the business and writing about retail, I can usually be found checking out what's new on the high street.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Retail Reflections

AB: Retail Reflections is a retail analyst consultancy; we write and speak about everything we find interesting in retail, the consumer and the trends in the marketplace. The retail sector is undergoing seismic change so it has never been a more exciting time to be involved.

SMP: What type of services does it offer and what differentiates it?

Photograph of Andrew Busby founder and CEO of Retail ReflectionsAB: We provide content for clients keen to demonstrate thought leadership in the retail space. We focus on three key areas: retail, technology and the psychology of the consumer. My business partner (and wife!) is a qualified psychologist so we are particularly well placed to discuss this increasingly vital aspect of the retail landscape.

In addition to the writing, we are keynote speakers, able to speak on a number of subjects, including all the key challenges facing retail businesses today.

We believe that the combination of a former retailer and IT professional together with a psychologist, both focused on retail, is very rare if not unique.

SMP: When was it founded and how many work on it?

The business was founded in early 2017 so you could say we're a young start-up. Currently it is myself and my wife. I provide the retail and she provides the psychology. It works well.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

AB: Our target audience is rapidly evolving and encompasses a broad range of organisations in the retail world. This includes retailers themselves, vendors working with retailers, design agencies and conference organisers.

SMP: What were you doing before you started Retail Reflections and why did you start it?

AB: After an IT career with Barclays Bank spanning 19 years, I sought a new challenge and that's when I joined Kingfisher to run IT operations at Superdrug. That was nearly 20 years ago and the experience ignited my passion for retail. After leaving Superdrug I then enjoyed a sales career with various IT vendors, but always working exclusively with retailers. For a number of years, I had been writing about retail, what I refer to as my extracurricular activity and quickly realised that this was what I wanted to do full time.

The pieces of the jigsaw which make up Retail Reflections were in my head and last year I had an opportunity to leave corporate life and didn't hesitate to grasp it. After taking a few months to develop the business model, Retail Reflections was born.

SMP: Briefly, what does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?

AB: My job is to continue to develop the business whilst at the same time keeping on top of all the breaking retail news. One of the things we pride ourselves on is always having an opinion and a point of view on the retail issues of the day.

In addition to my role at Retail Reflections I am also an IBM Futurist; we are a specially selected group of individuals who have been chosen for our level of influence - in my case in retail. This means that each year, I cover a number of retail conferences around the world reporting and commentating on behalf of IBM.

My job is varied so I'm glad to say that there's no such thing as a typical day. One day I could be in New York or Las Vegas working for IBM, the other I could be in my office writing or another I could be delivering a keynote as I did in Dublin recently.

SMP: What are the challenges that you've encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Retail Reflections?

We are still in our first year so the challenge remains to get the Retail Reflections brand name known and build our clientele. I am a strong believer in the use of social media to achieve much of this and I use Twitter primarily as a business tool. Used in the right way it can be very effective.

Retail Reflections homepage image

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

AB: In a relatively short space of time, I have become recognised as an influential retail analyst and this means I receive invitations to attend a lot of different events. It is always a privilege to meet new and interesting people. I enjoy all aspects of the job but in particular, I love the writing. When I was in sales I always got a kick out of closing a great deal; now I get the same satisfaction when seeing my writing being published.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for the retail sector?

AB: Gosh - how long have you got! As I said earlier, retail is undergoing a period of seismic change but unfortunately, the ability of many retail businesses to realise and to adapt to this, is questionable. The old ways are no longer fit for purpose however, the challenge is to credibly communicate that message. Retailers are tired of being told that the end for them is nigh. So, the trick is to present the challenges in a real-world way that can usefully be adopted. No easy feat.

But this in itself presents many opportunities. The retail sector is going through a revolution, consumer expectations are higher than ever before, there are so many technology options to choose from, the macro economic environment is extremely challenging and competition on the High Street fiercer than ever before. And through all this, a retailer has to somehow navigate a safe passage. I'd like to think that the insights which Retail Reflections provides can help them achieve this.  

SMP What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding retail for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

AB: Every aspect of retail is undergoing immense change, but I believe it will be the supply chain and in particular, final mile delivery which will see the greatest transformation. As we become more and more demanding, ordering something and getting it delivered where and when we want it (often within the hour) will become commonplace. We will see growth in the use of autonomous vehicles and drones in order to achieve this.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for retail in the content/digital/social space for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

AB replies with:

  • I was at a retail conference earlier this year where I heard a great quote: "Content is King, context is queen bee". We're going to see more and more great content being produced, but unless it's in context and relevant it will be as useful as a chocolate teapot.

  • The race to 'digitise the business' is causing a great deal of confusion in the industry with many almost literally throwing digital screens at the walls in the vain hope that this is the answer. We'll begin to see this start to mature and a more considered approach taken.

  • Digital is an enabler and we'll see more and more brands using it in more effective ways in order to join the physical with the online in to create one brand as opposed to the separate businesses which exist today in many cases.

  • We're still just scraping the surface of the potential which social media holds for retail brands. We'll see brands joining the customer conversations in far more intimate and relevant ways - this will demonstrate a far higher level of value add than we are seeing today.

  • The next 12-18 months will see a continued proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in retail. This will drive far better levels of personalisation than the clunky, misdirected examples we see today.

SMP: What are your top overall top tips for retailer in the content/digital/social space and why?

AB replies with:

  • Realise that you no longer own your own brand. Your customers do. It's what they say and write about you which defines the brand. Embrace this and engage with your customers on this basis.

  • Throw out pretty much everything you've ever learnt; retail is undergoing a revolution, the likes of which we've never seen before. Old ways and approaches are no longer relevant.

  • Never forget that this is a human industry first and technology second. We enter a store full of hope and expectation. Train your store staff accordingly.

  • You might think that digital is what the business requires but never lose sight of the fact that your stores can deliver something that online never can - a feeling.

  • Invite your customers to your party and welcome them over the threshold. Now treat them as VIP guests. They'll love you for it.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you'd like to share?

AB: I wrote an article (subscription) for Retail Week earlier this year discussing the growth in the amount of data we create and consume. Data is the new oil and will become the most important asset for any retailer. Every retailer seeks an ever closer relationship with their customers in order to achieve relevant, timely, intimate personalisation. The only way to accomplish this is by capturing, analysing and using the vast amounts of data which we all are generating everyday via social media.

We are sign-posting the way through our Tweets, our Facebook updates, our Instagram pictures etc etc however so far no-one is taking the trouble to read those signs. Once they do however, retail will transition into a completely new and wonderful era. Think about your needs and wants - they'll be predicted and fulfilled even before you've made the decision to make a purchase.

Retail Reflections blog image

SMP: Best way to contact you and Retail Reflections?

AB: I can be reached at or on +44 (0)7534 838508

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

Breakfast these days is usually porridge, it keeps me going in the cold weather! Lunch is usually a sandwich grabbed on the go.

SMP: What's the last good thing that you did for someone?

AB: Helping an elderly gentleman who couldn't reach his preferred bottle of wine which was hiding on the bottom shelf at Sainsbury's. "If I bend down I might not get up" he said. "You and me both!" Grabbed one for myself whilst I was down there.

SMP: If you weren't managing Retail Reflections what would you be doing?

AB: At a racetrack somewhere; besides retail, my other passion is motor racing. I've raced for over 25 years. Once the bug bites, it never leaves you. My current racecar is a BMW M3. I can't wait to be out in it next season.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

AB: Last holiday was a honeymoon in Greece; my wife is Macedonian and although we got married in UK we also had a wedding party in Macedonia so decided to drive down to Greece for a few days. She is still planning what she describes as our 'full' honeymoon in the Caribbean next year!

SMP: What's the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

AB: Apart from sipping a freshly brewed espresso, I will catch up on the business and retail news breaking that morning. I usually then share my thoughts on some of the more interesting stories via Twitter. I like to engage with people in this way and it often leads to some stimulating conversations.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

AB: I think I'd make a stand for the humble semicolon; and the English language in general for that matter. Now I'm a professional writer I am acutely aware of the way the language is abused on a daily basis. As a nation we are becoming incredibly lazy and uneducated in how to use what is, in reality, a beautiful language.

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