Back in Action is a retailer that was founded in 1987 by Lindall Pearce and David Newbound, an engineer who suffered a debilitating neck injury in 1982. When he discovered there was an alternative to constant pain, David formed the company to share the information and help other people. Launching as a pop-up shop in their own home, Back in Action wasted no time in getting to understand their customers’ pain points and identifying solutions to these.
Modern Retail had the pleasure of speaking with Lucinda Newbound, Senior Ergonomics Adviser at Back in Action about their inspirational approach to retail and top tips for success.
1. Introduce us to Back in Action
“Over the past 35 years, we have helped thousands of people lead happier, pain-free lives. Back in Action was set up in 1987 to help manage, prevent and treat the symptoms of back pain with our stylish, therapeutic furniture that will complement any space.
“We aim to inspire people to live happier, healthier lives through education on the value of movement and industry-leading customer services. Our team are at the very core of our business, they love helping you to find the right chair, desk or sofa for you. We have some fabulous products and leading brands to choose from including, Varier, Stressless, HAG, VLUV, Aeris and of course our own range of desks and The Mobiliser system.”
2. How important is it to create an instore experience that meets your customers’ needs?
Back in Action has created a tailored approach instore, meaning every customer can have a personal assessment to find the right products to help them.
“A large number of our customers have sought help from doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors and still they suffer with back or neck pain. As a last solution, they come to us, often we can diagnose and come up with a solution we know will help them within minutes of them walking into one of our shops.
“Many of our staff started their relationship with Back in Action as customers and subsequently decided to join the team – so they’ve got a pretty good idea of what customers are going through. So, together with our expertise and passion for helping people lead happier, pain-free lives we ensure to create an experience for customers that leaves them feeling optimistic and educated on the value of movement and importance of posture. We strive to manage, prevent, and treat the symptoms of back pain and help customers find the perfect chair – whether that’s for long periods of desk work, dining or relaxing.
“We currently have four fabulous showrooms in London, Bristol, Amersham, and Marlow (N.B. Marlow is appointment only). At our showrooms, customers can book a personal assessment which is around 90 minutes, or we also offer customers a phone or email consultation.”
3. Given the increase in the number of people working from home, how have you been able to tailor your offering to suit these customers?
Changes to many people’s working conditions in recent years has resulted in a greater need to focus on posture, with Back in Action making sure they are able to meet this growing demand.
“We know that many people have struggled over the last few years as the movement to WFH has become the norm. We’ve seen workers sitting in unsuitable dining chairs at the kitchen table, propped up on a stool at a kitchen island or breakfast bar and even working from bed and bath! Any of these could lead to back pain, bad posture, sore neck and shoulders and more.
“Over the course of the pandemic, the desire for ergonomic furniture has grown and we have seen an overall 400% uplift across the board for ergonomic home office items. The difference this could make to productivity is staggering, especially when our research over a ten-year period has shown the average back pain-related sick leave in the UK is 40%. By sitting actively, this can be reduced to less than 0.1%.
“We feel very lucky to have been in a position over the last two years to make huge changes to the way thousands of people are working. We are motivated by creating lasting positive change by adjusting the way people use their bodies through a working day. This means that we love working one on one, getting things right for each individual.”
4. What would be your top tips to create a memorable instore experience for customers?
Back in Action shared their top tips to create a memorable instore experience, encouraging customers to take their time and make sure they are confident in every puchase.
“Our instore experience is personable, educational, and friendly. We’ll never pressure a purchase, and always encourage you to try out as many items as possible – we really don’t mind at all, we just want our customers to find the right solution for them and their homes. We have a huge array of products within our showrooms – so we’re confident that our stores will have something for everyone.”
5. How do you choose which products to stock? What are your main considerations?
At Back in Action, quality is at the forefront of everything they do, making sure every product has a specific purpose or benefit for those that visit their stores.
“We strive to manage, prevent, and treat the symptoms of back pain and help customers find the perfect chair – whether that’s for long periods of desk work, dining or relaxing and so that’s a key consideration whenever we stock new products. We also believe that everything you interact with in your home should be beautiful and be something that you love – so quality and design are also really important to consider when stocking new products.”
6. Having started out as a pop-up shop in your Berkshire home, what advice would you give to retailers considering starting as a pop-up shop?
David Newbound explained how pop-up shop can benefit retailers, as well as the long-term benefits of using them to truly understand your customers.
“A pop-up shop is finite and allows you to learn about your customers at a low overhead.
“We used these low overhead beginnings from the pop-up shop to really learn about our customers’ needs without having to worry about generating income. What we learnt in those early two years gave us a basis for knowledge that has kept us number one for customer service for over 35 years.
“Over the years, we have observed that very few smaller start-up companies use their pop-up period for learning and once they start to incur overheads, they don’t understand their customers well enough to stay viable.
“As just one example, for a substantial period, Back in Action insisted that every customer borrowed the item they thought would work best so that both sides could find out if that turned out to be a reality. As a result, we learned a great deal and of course we didn’t have a single unhappy customer!”
7. In the 35 years that Back in Action has been running, how has the world of retail changed and how have you evolved to fit this?
While the world of retail may be evolving quickly, Back in Action ensure they are able to offer a consistently great experience. Here’s how they manage that:
“In the last few years, the world of retail has changed but we carefully manage our stock to ensure that our customers only feel minimal impact. We do this by holding lots of stock in a huge variety of colours so that our clients can have something beautiful to match their home décor.”
8. What is next for Back in Action and how can our readers stay up to date?
“We are continuing to learn and expand our knowledge to benefit our customers, old and new. We will continue to research and discover new designs and brands to bring them to our customers.
“Follow us on Instagram @backinaction_est1987, sign up to our newsletter HERE to keep in touch or head into one of our four stores in London, Amersham, Bristol or Marlow and book in for a seating assessment with one of our experts – you won’t regret it!”
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.