Horticulture Week Business Award - Retail Sales Team of the Year

Winner - Kew Retail, RBG Kew Enterprises

Image: RBG Kew Enterprises
Image: RBG Kew Enterprises

All Kew Retail profits generated from its three permanent shops — Victoria Plaza, White Peaks and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery — are used by Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG), Kew. The business plan for Kew Retail is for continued growth in net income and net profit.

The sales team’s role is to have a greater influence on customers’ experience, increasing the positive effect of visiting the shops at RBG Kew. This has improved customer satisfaction and engagement, as well as leading to an increase in the income generated.

The shop floor is led by the general retail manager, supported by more than 20 permanent staff plus seasonal teams. The management team has implemented a training plan focusing on developing the visitor experience in the shops, with the sales team proactively engaging with visitors and so enhancing the overall experience of visiting RBG Kew.

There is also a new standardised induction and mentoring programme incorporating a staff handbook to ensure that all team members are informed about the role, standards and processes of RBG Kew and Kew Retail.

A monthly motivational programme of team visits to different aspects of RBG Kew has allowed the team to develop their knowledge base and feel confident in engaging with customers about their visit. Product samplings are mostly carried out by the sales team and a supporting schedule of sampling sessions has been provided by suppliers. Kew has also introduced warmer chalkboard signs for product information.

Several members of the team are multilingual and use this skill to great effect with non-English-speaking customers. Turnover, average transaction value and visitor conversion rates have all improved thanks to the new measures.

Visitor experience, quantified by exit surveys on staff and value, showed improvement during summer 2017. Overall responses regarding the Kew shops showed a 93% rating of "excellent" or "good", with a 10% rise in the "excellent" rating from the previous year.

Specific ratings in relation to Kew Retail staff also showed an improvement. "Excellent" or "good" ratings increased to 99%, up from 98% the previous year, with a 4% increase in the "excellent" rating.

Results for value also showed a 4% increase in "excellent" ratings. This reflects the improvement in product signage and information, as well as interaction with the sales team in communicating this information to customers.

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