Industry Insider: Peter Murray & Melanie Seddon
Our Industry Insiders this week are Peter Murray & Melanie Seddon, owners of the Pulse of Perfumery in Knutsford, Cheshire. Known for their beautiful shop window displays, immersive customer experiences and the mixture of artisan brands they offer, we find out about their experiences and what advice they can offer to other independent retailers…
What inspired you to start Pulse of Perfumery?
My partner Melanie and I have each had 30+ years experience of the fine fragrance business working at Senior Management/Director level on the wholesale distribution side of the business. As field based professionals we regularly visited every outlet in the UK that sold fragrance and that gave us an in depth insight into perfumery retailing. The Department Stores and Chains dominate the UK fragrance market with very few independent perfumery specialists and we were passionate enough about the art of perfumery to believe that we could offer something different. A friendly, welcoming, non intimidating place where people could come and be introduced to fragrances they didn’t know existed, alongside the more premium commercial brands they were comfortable with. We believe that there is definitely a growing appetite for specialist Independent businesses like ours, where people seek out things that are rare and where they can make an informed choice with expert advice and guidance.
What is the best bit of advice you could give to someone who is looking to start their first independent retail business?
Research your location well, know your competition but don’t get distracted by them, be focused on your goals. Look at if people do spend time and money shopping in your town and not just time socialising. Get out there and shout about what you are doing to your fellow retailers and don’t just stand in your business and wait for people to come to you. Surround yourself with good positive people who will encourage you to keep going when times are tough and always consider the return on any investment you make.
What’s been the biggest digital challenge you have faced as a retailer?
The fact that I never did any sort of social media personally meant that was a complete learning curve and it took a client that enjoyed their shopping experience so much to come back and push us into telling others about it. We ended up employing her to help us with our social media and very quickly we could see the commercial benefits of keeping our clients regularly informed of what was happening at POP. Seven years down the line and with around 5,000 clients on our database we will be launching our Pulse of Perfumery ecommerce website in a couple of months time and we are very excited to see what that next step brings.
How can we improve the high street experience to encourage more customers to visit local independent shops?
We firmly believe that shopping should be a great experience. You have to give a client a reason to shop with you, as often they can buy at least some of your product range in numerous other outlets. Build a rapport and the client will begin to trust your advice and also it’s crucial that the experience is enjoyable. The shop environment is also vitally important and we aim to keep our environment pristine at all times reflecting the premium nature of the brands we are representing at POP. We are welcoming and love what we do so business is done with a smile. We’re professional, never judgemental, we listen to the customer and that way the customer ends up with the right fragrance and keeps on returning which is wonderfully rewarding. People want to enjoy spending their money so the process has to be all about the customer and ensuring they feel special, this way, they will in turn tell others about you and that’s the best form of advertising.
When has a customer surprised you in a positive way and how did they do it?
Every time a client takes time out to post a review of their shopping experience on Facebook, as we all have such busy lives and that acknowledgement for us is affirmation that we are getting things right for our customers. Just after Christmas a client brought in a wonderful hand written note that was humbling: It said that our presence in Knutsford lifted its spirit and purpose. Just last week, a client brought us flowers and chocolates and when I asked why she said “Thank you for being fabulous!“. We are fortunate that we have chosen to do business in a wonderful town where its residents understand that if they want to keep their town interesting, they need to shop here.
Where can we find out more about Pulse of Perfumery?
At the moment at Pulse of Perfumery is on Facebook, you can look at our customer reviews and see what they say about their shopping experiences. We are also Pulse of Perfumery on Instagram and POP Perfumery on Twitter. Coming soon our website www.pulseofperfumery.com