UK stationery retailers need to learn from their Aussie counterparts according to new research. With National Stationery Week and the London Stationery Show just around the corner, these new fashion conscious Australian brands are taking the lead in the high street.
The emergence and success of Australian stationery brands on the UK high street, including Smiggle and Typo threaten the likes of WH Smith and Ryman.
Fiona Paton, an associate analyst at GlobalData reports these traditional stationery stores rely on “needs based” purchases. However, in order to compete with the style and flair offered by these Aussie newcomers, they need to diversify their product offerings.
Australian Stationery Retailers Take the Lead
The Australian brands’ focus is on the gifting market with an aspirational outlook; “driven by desire rather than necessity.” Therefore, products within this market can demand a higher price and profit margin.
In the report featured on the London Stationery Show website, Paton explains:
“Aussie stationers have begun to shake up the UK stationery sector by developing enticing products and offering a stimulating instore experience”.
Smiggle has made a name for itself within the highly competitive back to school stationery market. Its bright colours, scented pencil cases, fun pens and pencils are a big hit with school children. In addition, its stores entice customers to browse and buy in a similar vein to a pick n mix sweet shop.
Currently the biggest of the Australian brands in the UK, Smiggle states it is on track to open 200 stores in the UK by 2019.
Kikki.K, the Australian brand with a Swedish design feel, offer products aimed at women in their 20’s and 30’s. As covered in our article Are You Motivated by Stationery? it is a company switched on to the current trend in personal journals and planners.
Their recent Thrive range was created in partnership with Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post.
Finally, Typo recently opened its first store in the UK. Its target market is teenagers and young adults. It is similar in its style to Paperchase. However, its more edgy style has not been without controversy. Last Christmas, a range of its products, including notebooks and pencil cases were emblazoned with uncensored swear words. This led to much criticism from the media and customers.
UK Stationery Retailers Must Adapt in a Changing Marketplace
Retailers such as WH Smith and Ryman remain the choice for general everyday office and school supplies. Yet, as we now favour smartphones and tablets to make notes and appointments, the need for traditional office supplies continues to decline.
Whilst Ryman also benefits from its B2B wholesale business, WH Smith, according to GlobalData’s analysis, is vulnerable. It needs to make its stores more attractive to customers to compete with these new Aussies kids on the block.
This is most apparent than when you take a look at @WHS_Carpet on Twitter. This account mocks the poor state of many WH Smith stores up and down the country.
In order to stay relevant these retailers should look at the Australian brands’ business models and see what they can learn and adapt.