A few ramblings from Mrs MOOCH...

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  1. We’ve been a bit remiss of late by not updating the blog. Sorry about that. I’d say that it’s because we’ve been a bit busy; but if you follow us on social media you probably already know that. 

    So, what’s happened since we last caught up. Well… our new shop in Bell has been open since the end of August 2018 and it’s going brilliantly. We’ve learned lots of new things and updated some of our thoughts with new ones. Our original plan had been to just lift and shift what we do on St Giles Street and replicate it there; what we actually did is to use the additional shop to add new ranges to our offering, with the added flexibility of having our online offer so that you can buy anything from any shop and have it delivered or click and collect from either shop. Space has always been an issue for us (not having enough of it) so it gives us the opportunity to offer more out of the same space. Our online and telesales business is steadily growing, and in 2019 we hope to grow it even further to complement our high street shops. Much is made of the threat from online to the high street, our view is that it’s something that gives us scope to expand way beyond what traditional bricks and mortar could do for us. It’ll never replace the friendly welcome you get in MOOCH, but it does bring much needed flexibility for everyone to be able to access everything we have to offer at any time, from anywhere.

    While we’re talking about space we should move on to the now, and what we’re planning to do next. In short, there are going to be more MOOCHs (two in the next few months in Olney and Towcester). If we’re honest, we’d never anticipated that MOOCH would be a big business, but both Paul and I love hard work and audacious goals … so we just keep stretching ourselves for more. We love it. 

    As well as new shops, we’ve looked at lots of options to increase our space on St Giles Street (one day at Christmas we nearly had to briefly close the doors because the shop was actually full). But … after much soul searching, we realised that part of what makes MOOCH special is that it’s intimate and friendly; so, more shops and a wider online offer will enable us to do more in the same small spaces. This way we can introduce new and exciting products that we’ve had to say no to up until now, because there’s simply no room. In the new shops you’ll see more new products complemented by a broader online offering that means that we can bring (almost) the whole range to customers everywhere we operate via click and collect or fast home delivery. And if you see something we’re promoting on social media in one shop, and you’d like us to bring it to the shop nearest you that’s no problem, we’ll make that happen. We love to make our customers happy and we’ll always go the extra mile to let you know how much we value your support. 

    The one thing we’ll never do is stand still - always fresh, always new, always unique. For us, there’s no point being the same. The high street needs variety, we want people to come to the towns we're in and have a good mooch around ALL the shops (not just MOOCH) and to be inspired; and we’ll continue to work tirelessly to bring our customers the very best choice and value, all topped off with our super-friendly service.

    Finally - keep checking back for updates, we promise to be a bit better at updating the blog :-)

  2. Paul and I have worked in retail for pretty much all our lives – both in shops and head office teams, and more recently as a consultancy (albeit I am using retail in its broadest sense of a business that serves customers).  I think it’s fair to say that the whole of the retail landscape is changing at a faster pace than we have ever known. The big players are disappearing off the high streets, the online players are making commodity buying simpler and simpler, and customer expectations of value and convenience are higher than ever.

    So, what does that mean for the independents? Well… in our opinion, the future of high street retailing lies with the independents. As Amazon widens it’s grasp on commodities, consumers are spending less of their precious free time in the supermarkets or DIY stores. And when they visit the high streets, they’re looking for an experience … a good choice of carefully curated products – beautiful, useful, unique, satisfying. Store environments are more important than ever – if customers are choosing to go shopping for leisure, it needs to feel, um, leisurely. I’ve already in a previous blog about how we use music to create a slow, relaxing environment, but the thing that makes the difference is the team... our team have been carefully chosen for their friendly, chatty personalities (we’re VERY proud of our team – they are superstars … we work them hard, but we also make sure we have some fun along the way). They know the products inside and out and love to find the perfect product for customers (and sometimes that means we recommend another local business!)  but we don’t do selling – that’s a rule. We’ll offer advice and suggestions – and if you just want to come in for a mooch and a chat, that’s cool. We love to chat.

    I also want to talk briefly about online; we hear a lot of chatter about how online is killing the high street. We disagree… while we work hard to make sure our customers in the shop get a great experience, we also recognise that convenience is also a critical part of our customer offer. And in a world where everything is available at the touch of a button, we use our online offer to complement our retail offering. We don’t offer our whole range online (it would be a logistical nightmare given the unique nature of a lot of our products!) but we do offer our faster moving products on there and we make sure we offer the same level of service to our online customers with beautiful wrapping and efficient delivery … now and again we even pop an extra little treat in the package to say thank you for shopping online with us.

    So – what next for the high streets? I wish we knew. The one thing we do know for sure is that customers tell us that they love what we do, so we’ll keep doing it. We’ll keep listening to what people are looking for. And we’ll keep working with industry experts and local influencers to promote local business. And if we give it everything we’ve got – there will be no regrets.