If the global pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that conventional business models and ways of driving channel engagement are there to be disrupted.

And that’s exactly what Retaissance, the multi-brand retail agency, is seeking to do with an approach that aims to provide lucrative opportunities for independent labels and jewellery retailers in the UK.

Professional Jeweller asked founder and managing director Cathie Osborne for the lowdown. 

Advertisement

For those that don’t know Retaissance, how would you describe the company and what it offers?
Retaissance is a revolutionary trading model and sales service that gives brands the tools, access and control to trade globally, and gives retailers frictionless access to the top brands of the world.

For a brand, our collaborative support packages range from simple access, to everything a brand needs to drive sales and control costs.

For a retailer we can provide new revenue streams, through extended lines ‘online only’ with hands-free drop shipping, which is incredibly successful and lucrative.

You have recently launched a new package for independent brands working in collaboration with other suppliers. Why was this set up and what benefits does this bring?
It was set up to support British jewellery brands that want to grow sales through export.

We are proud to deliver the best tools and technology in the market, with economies of scale to help eliminate cost barriers and open up a fair playing field for independent brands.

There is also funding support available for a number of UK brands who want to grow export.

We have great international partners such as NuORDER and FashionUnited to give us a great platform in Europe and USA.

Does this have any benefits as opposed to working with these suppliers individually?
Yes, in many ways. Firstly costs, which are very important to any sized brand, but then the higher levels of weighting and support a large collaborative group of individuals brings.

You work with brands and retailers but have described the concept as more than just a standard B2B market place. How do you believe Covid-19 is changing the way the jewellery sector operates?
Tough trading conditions throughout retail are expected to persist this year, with potentially more bankruptcies, store closures and job cuts to continue.

Jewellers’ strategies need to fit their customers, their opportunities and maximise silver linings.

Independents have the lead in agility, flexibility and speed to maximise the pivots and shifts in consumer behaviour – we help brands to anticipate shifts in demand across sales channels, product portfolios and volume, maximising routes to market and profitability.

Retaissance appears to be very focused on promoting a collaborative effort to support both ends of the supply chain. This sounds like quite an ecosystem-driven approach. Presumably both ends of the supply chain need to work successfully in tandem to drive results for everyone?
Yes, I believe collaboration is king. It’s about working together to rewrite wholesale. Wholesale models have changed with retailers preferring small minimum orders and higher levels of replenishment.

For brands, a demand-driven model is imperative to grow sales, reach new stockists and improve everyone’s bottom line.

We have a database of 9,000 retailers and, through partners, a reach of 1.3 million worldwide.

We combine this with a sales service that gives brands the tools, access and control to trade globally, and gives retailers frictionless access to the top brands of the world.

Why a retailer should work with Retaissance? Are you able to offer anything they couldn’t get from existing supplier relationships?
Firstly, we are definitely not looking to replace existing supplier relationships – they are the backbone of our sector and have deep partnerships with retailers, which bring greater agility and accountability.

In fact, we are looking at new ways for the suppliers and retailers to enable growth in sales and build resilience through the recovery.

Brands can support their retailers, with a demand-focused model, and also to gain more outlets and channels to increase sales in the UK and globally.

From a retailer’s perspective, we are offering a number of solutions to bring additional revenue into store.

We represent a wide range of fantastic brands that are looking for eyes on their products and offer a drop shipping model.

These can be picked, packed and dispatched directly to the customer or direct to the retailer for a click and collect service with no risk.

Retailers such as John Lewis and Harvey Nichols already operate this model and the retailer keeps around 25% without having to buy or touch a product.

We also offer retailers innovative ways to add value and increase footfall through in-store pop-up events, VIP events with brand founders in attendance to engage consumers with their strong stories, muses and reason for being.

It’s clear that the pandemic has forced many retailers to review their online capabilities – and this trend is only going to intensify. Where does ecommerce fit into Retaissance’s business model?
In a recent McKinsey report, ‘digital is seen by a third of executives as a silver lining that presents the biggest opportunity in 2021’.

Retaissance has created a new trading model so that retailers can offer more to consumers through their web channels.

With recent consumer behaviour changes and the need to engage millennials and Gen Z for the next generation of loyal consumers, jewellery retailers have the opportunity to become 4D (dimensional) and truly omni-channel.

What kind of retailers would most benefit from working wth you?
All retailers will benefit in one way or another. Those who are wanting additional sales channels and to find innovative new ideas will benefit most. It is a free-of-charge service for retailers.

Traditionally, the retail model we are used to in the UK is one where retailers buy products from suppliers and then add their margin on top. They might also earn discounts or rebates depending on the volume or type of product they sell. Does Retaissance support this kind of fiscal model or are you looking to challenge it?
Yes, we definitely support the existing wholesale model and work with it daily. Our strength, however, is that we also deliver other models that can offer a more flexible and agile addition.

We offer new and exciting brands for you add to your product range, from jewellery and gifting to home fragrance and accessories – all additional offerings designed to align and complement premium retailers, increasing the average spend per customer, creating upsell opportunities and sell-through.

But the jeweller will not purchase product, as they do with the wholesale model, will they?
No, the jeweller will add the extended line of products to their website.

When a piece is ordered the brand/ supplier will drop ship the item directly to the customer or direct to store for a click and collect pick up. The jeweller will retain around 25% of the sale and have no associated risk.

What kind of suppliers are you looking to work with and are you seeking to evolve the dynamics of jewellery wholesale?
The brands we are working with are stunning new designers from around the world, the price points are spread across the bridge and fine jewellery segment.

The majority of brands want to grow through export and diversify into new global markets. Some brands are focused on growing footprint in the UK and trying new sales channels.

How would you describe your objectives for 2021?
Our focus this year is to support UK jewellers with fresh, no risk, cost-effective ways to increase sales and attract new customers.

For brands and designers, we will continue to build sales through a marketplace model across the UK jewellery retail sector and also offer growth through export.

When both ends of the supply chain see strong sell-through, the jeweller will have the option to take the range in store.