Scope has 237 charity shops across England and Wales. And their recent foray into innovation (remember the Strip for Scope campaign?) has inspired us to undertake a new project – Scope’s Retail Innovation Challenge.
Creativity, enthusiasm and a willingness to go above and beyond to make a successful shop were all part of the selection criteria to identify a group of 10 shop managers and assistant managers to help us find new ways to boost shop profits and generate more income, to help Scope make the world a better place for disabled people. It was also a great chance for us to put the innovation process we’ve been developing through its paces.
We kicked off the challenge with a two day workshop for the 10 participants who travelled from as far away as Skipton, Totnes, Liverpool and Hull to gather at our head office in London.
Their challenge was to identify an idea for increasing profit in their shop that they could take back and test over the next eight to 10 weeks. With less than two days to do this it was a big ask!
But as an excited and expectant new group, we dived straight in to insight gathering, problem shaping, ideation and getting into the shoes of customers and donors. By 3pm on Friday each participant emerged weary but exhilarated with two promising ideas that they could take back to their shops to begin to test with our support.
Participant Hannah Croft (Assistant Manager in Scope’s Liverpool shop) shared her experience of her two day trip to London:
“My day started at 5.53am when my train left New Brighton, set for Liverpool, where I would then travel to Euston. It was a stormy morning and I thought I could have been blown all the way to London. When I finally got to Euston the sun was shining and it was warm enough for me to take off my scarf and mittens! I didn’t know what I was going to be doing or who I would meet over the next two days. I was excited but I was a little nervous too!
Once at head office I met the team and we started to piece together the outline of what was in store. From that moment the room never lost the buzz of conversation, sharing ideas, experiences and inspiration.
In the Scope shop where I work, my manager and I have different ways of working, different personalities and views, and that’s no bad thing! It means we normally get the best of both. But it was nice to spend time with people who seemed to think like I did.
We were told that we had a huge opportunity to generate ideas for our own shops and trial them. We were also told we would have few limitations to what we could trial in our shops, as long as it was realistic and in budget. We spent two days working as a team on areas of potential for our own individual stores. I felt like I was 10 again, stood in Toys ‘R’ Us after winning the lottery! It was just an overwhelming feeling of excitement and playfulness.
I have been given the chance to break away from the rules, the norms and guidelines and potentially achieve something great for our store and for Scope. I left the workshop on day two bouncing off the walls. I rang my area manager as soon as I could to tell her every detail I could remember. I spoke so fast and excitedly that she had to tell me several times to stop and breathe.
On returning to my store, I must be honest, it was a bit like being brought back down to reality. Our store is really busy and I am still to have the chance to discuss properly with my manager and settle on the path I should take. I have done some work in my own time on my areas of interest and am looking forward to progressing through the project and seeing what I can achieve. I like to hope I brought a little of the sunshine from London, back to Liverpool.”
Hannah and the other nine participants will be testing out their ideas over the next eight to 10 weeks, letting us know how they fare along the way, what works and what doesn’t! We look forward to sharing what happens.
Ruth, Zoe & Rosa
Scope’s Innovation Team