Modern Retail

How Greenwich Market Support Their Retailers

The award

The Good Retail Awards 2020’s Retail District Award recognised retail areas that produce innovative campaigns and exciting customer-centric initiatives to create a buzz around the retail stores in their area.

The winner

Greenwich Market is a uniquely vibrant shopping district which showcases the work and offerings of market traders and local independent shops. Providing a unique shopping experience to visitors and locals, retailers within Greenwich Market have felt they are valued members of the local community, with huge amounts of support and fantastic initiatives to grow business.

Greenwich Market uses advertising and social media campaigns to grow awareness of the retailers, promoting the message that local shopping rewards local talent. The Greenwich Market website showcases all traders and shops, with retailers being able to update their own page. This means that smaller businesses who cannot afford their own websites are also able to have an online presence, with the site reaching 24,257 hits in December 2019. Alongside what’s on calendars, active social media accounts, a Christmas lighting scheme and promotion of the vibrant mix of retailers, Greenwich Market continues to support local business, helping to keep Greenwich’s shop occupancy 5% higher than the national average.

The award-winning strategy

Modern Retail spoke with Gillie Bexson Head of Property, Greenwich Hospital, estate owner of Greenwich Market and PR and marketing consultant Jennifer Hall-Thompson about the ways in which Greenwich Market strives to support retailers while creating a unique shopping destination.

Gillie Bexson explains: ”Greenwich town centre has a diverse offer, framed around the experience economy, with activities that increase dwell time, increase footfall and spend for existing visitors and attract new ones. The retailers we have on our estate which offer experiential retail are reporting a positive number of visitors. Whilst the tourist economy is important, both to our market traders and retailers and to the food and beverage offers, our strategy is to attract the local, district and regional pound as well as the tourist pound. This is to recognise that local people return, often on a regular basis, which tourists, by their nature, rarely do.”

Creating an accessible community

Greenwich Market prides itself on being supportive towards retailers of all sizes, helping people run their own businesses from initial stages, with the team explaining: “The market was set up from the beginning to be incredibly affordable and we keep prices as constant as possible. There are trial days and market managers who work with new traders and guide them through the stall set up process to help them succeed. We encourage stalls to be well merchandised and we invite traders to put up signs detailing how they make their products, as well as where they come from. We provide them with storage so they don’t have to bring it to market daily (lots of our traders bike) and we make sure this is safe and affordable. All these processes help break down barriers which could prevent people from being able to run their own business. We give preferential rates on renting shops when they start, so if they want to move from a stall to a shop, they are able to do this. This is how we’ve built up the number of independent shops and helped them through every stage of their growth. This process has been going on for more than 10 years.”

Being a central hub which supports retailers

“A lot of our retailers are quite small, from stall holders up to the biggest shops. It’s a strength in numbers thing because we get a lot of hits on the site www.greenwichmarket.london… more than a small individual brand would get on their site. More people make this work together, as a collective. If you haven’t got a big budget to set up and market your company, you have the freedom to have your own page here and you’re not reliant on a budget as it’s free. We encourage retailers to manage it for themselves so they can get their voice out there, but we can also do it for retailers if they prefer.”

Creating a community and keeping them informed

Greenwich Market does a wonderful job of capturing visitors’ attention, enabling businesses and shoppers alike to benefit: “It really does work to keep your community aware of everything that’s happening. We use social media, but also advertise locally, support the locals and use the local glossy magazines. We find so many great ways to talk about Greenwich Market across the community, such as advertising in local newspapers, doing door drops and featuring in the local mother and child publications which go in school bookbags. We also work with our World Heritage Site marketing partners across Greenwich and use the network to support them as well. We try to meet with the traders regularly and tell them what’s coming up.

“We speak to different groups who run projects with the local community. It’s difficult to target everybody, so we try to do events and advertising that appeals to the local community. They are our heart. There are of course lots of tourists in Greenwich, but they won’t always invest in arts and crafts, which is what we are known for. We invited the local schools to our pancake races, and they got such a buzz out of it. It’s something a school class can’t necessarily put on themselves, but the children go home, are excited about it and we might see their families at Greenwich Market in the future. Quite a lot of our workshops with kids are arts and crafts ones like making Mother’s Day cards or chocolate painting and easter bunny hunts at Easter. It’s all quite creative and that’s something we’re very passionate about.”

Using social media to grow reach

“Social media has been fantastic to get our messaging out. Anyone who sees our content can see what’s going on and get a feel for it. This helps shops and traders make sales. For Pancake Day, we had local vicars come from the local church and race in our Pancake Races and we posted this on our channels. People like to see everything we do. Social media platforms are all very different. We use Facebook to promote upcoming events and tag into Eventbrite. On Instagram, we create stories using content from anybody who tags us or uses our hashtags. Our traders love to do this as they can create visual imagery and we can share these posts with our followers. It works to really create a community through content and stories and this works brilliantly for us.”

On winning the Community Award

Jennifer commented on their experience: “We don’t actually enter many awards but one of our shops (Tailor& Forge) entered the Good Retail Awards and told us about this, so we entered the Retail District category straight away. It’s a great award because the category was so relevant to what Greenwich Hospital (the estate owner) is currently working at to support the local independent shops and traders. It was refreshing to find an award which provided this avenue. The process was easy to enter and everyone has been thrilled with the award. We sent a press release out to many industry-related, business and consumer press contacts. It’s been a great achievement for the whole community.”

To see the full list of Good Retail Awards winners, click here.

Sign up for Good Retail Awards updates

Holly Worthington

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.