Building a better museum shop 2018

What’s the project?

An exciting project i’ll ship this year is to extend the size of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery shop (by removing the stockroom to gain 20%), introducing new fittings (better flexible bays) and align the ‘feel’  to our brand. The constraints are that it must happen in-between exhibitions, cost no more than £30,000 (thanks BMDT for the funding) and address the issues that removing 20% of stockroom entails! Here are a bunch of photos of the current shop for reference.

When does it ship?

We’re currently reviewing tender submissions but it MUST happen before the summer holidays. Once we’ve awarded the contract I’ll be more loose-lipped I promise. I can promise the team that we’ll be burning the candle at both ends to get all the stock back into the shop and get it looking sweet.

Who is responsible for shipping it?

I take responsibility for the delivery of this project. It won’t be possible however without the support of the retail team – Sue, Julie, Helen, Jane and the great extended “casual pool”, Retail Thinking consultancy, Darren, James, Rowan and David. I’ll be roping in more people  throughout the project so apologises if I haven’t named you here.

What are you afraid of?

  • Unforeseen delays to the schedule. The period in-between exhibitions is fleeting and a delay can result in the project being kicked into touch by up to 16 weeks at a time YIKES!
  • Removing the stockroom is bold but also scary. The new design must ensure that the stockroom lose isn’t negative to the team workflow
  • How will we fill the new space as our existing product range isn’t enough
  • What if the new shop is Meh?
  • What if the contractor doesn’t treat this project like its life and death?
  • I lead lots of areas so what happens if I’m pulled from pillar to post on those other priorities? I take my eye off a critical detail on this project?

What else (the truth this time)?

We predict that we’ll make an additional £30,000 in sales per year…what if I botched my calculations and we don’t boost sales significantly?

Why are you afraid?

Failing potentially means losing staff in the future. I need to find more and more money to maintain our resourcing at the level it is at now… £30,000 is the equivalent of ‘whole’ member of staff.

Pick some edges

If I need to compromise then I guess its best to determine what fittings and fixtures will give me the best return for 2018. For example I want to remove the ceiling to reveal the architecture but I can’t afford it and its a ‘nice to have’. I’d rather have fewer but durable components that will least ten years or more. I need to ensure I have storage. I can add less expensive components at a later date but it’s best to ensure the core of the new design is complete. I’m happy to use cutting edge techniques that aren’t yet proven. It should be done as fast as possible but no faster.

Who is your customer?

I am trying to please members of the public who may come once in their lifetime or who visit 5+ a year.  If you walk into the shop we should have something for you and the occasion you need to buy for.

Who are the key influencers, gatekeepers and authorities?

The public, the wider retail team, Operations and the retail community through the Association of Cultural Enterprises.

Does anyone else matter?

[Redacted]. Nope.

Questions and ideas for the devil’s advocate (things to say to slow things down, average things out or create panic or malaise):

  • It’s too soon
  • It’s too late
  • It’s technically risky
  • It’s boring
  • It will offend retailers
  • There are significant legal issues
  • The plant is too backed up to produce this
  • It will take too much training to support
  • The Media won’t get it
  • Our industry is too regulated
  • The home office won’t approve
  • There’s no room in this year’s budget, let’s review in a few months
  • It might fail
  • Our big competitor will steal it
  • It’s been done before
  • It’s never been done before
  • People will laugh at us

If you hear any of these, underline them. If you find yourself saying them, stop yourself.

Who can stop this project?

Nobody. Well maybe [redacted].

Who else can stop this project?

Really, nobody.

Who is essential to our success?

  • Association for Cultural Enterprises
  • Becky Peters
  • BMDT
  • Collections team
  • David M
  • Helen and Co
  • Mark and Steve
  • Peter Holloway from Retail Thinking
  • Simon Fenn

What does perfect look like?

All boundary walls fitted with bays that are flexible. Well lit. Solution for all storage needs. Two till points that ease congestion. New ceiling or no ceiling. Additional floor units for merchandising that are movable and encourage pick-up lust. Removal of 1990s wood effect look. Movable till area.

What does good enough look like?

All boundary walls fitted with bays that are flexible. Well lit. Solution for all storage needs. Two till points that ease congestion. Removal of most of the 1990s wood effect look. Scope to add components at a later date.

List every task and event that needs to happen, by whom, and by when.

  1. Review and moderate tender submissions – ZM and DM by 31st Jan
  2. Seek CPG approval to award – ZM by 8th Feb
  3. Award tender – ZM by 8th Feb
  4. Standstill period – PS by 19th Feb
  5. Engage contractor – ZM from 20th Feb
  6. Agree approach – ZM/Contractor
  7. Finalise design  – ZM/Contractor
  8. Build off-site – Contractor
  9. Agree VM plan – HL/PH/ZM
  10. Agree post install merchandising team – HL
  11. Installation – Contractor
  12. Restock – everybody!
  13. Open

Who becomes your competition?

Nearby high street retailers. Bring it on.

What does failure look like?

  • Due to unforeseen issues with the structure the project has to grind to a halt due to lack of reserve funding.
  • Sales decrease
  • New fittings confuse our VM plan
  • The sector don’t like the resulting shop extension and pan it

Plus it!

List up to ten things you could add that would radically or subtly improve your project:

  1. Ensure we have a full range plan ahead of the build with all locations for new stock
  2. Ensure feedback from the retail team is integrated into the finer detail of the till area
  3. Somebody gives me an extra £20,000 to really finish the project – remove the ceiling, introduce exhibition retail unit area, building proper pop-up shop units, fit out the remaining original bays
  4. Understand what types of product will make customers talk about the shop to their friends
  5. Build a prototype of each new component to test assumptions
  6. Enlist Jane le Bon at design and stocking stage to turn the visual merchandising from good to brilliant.
  7. Reduce install time
  8. Promotion at launch in all the Bristol media
  9. Contractor already uses Basecamp for managing projects
  10. Launch with a killer product that everybody thinks they need but can’t put down

Minus it!

List up to ten things you could subtract that would radically or subtly improve your project or get it out the door.

  1. Remove boring services that are on two perimeter boundary walls and impede the design
  2. Not have any evening events that week which hinder having a pop-up shop
  3. Meetings with people who aren’t domain experts

Thrash

List every element of the project that needs to be settled, designed or approved before you can ship.

  • A solid project plan
  • Contractor to advise, design and build the extension – moderation 30th Jan
  • CPG approval to award
  • Lock in dates that don’t mess with the exhibition space next door
  • Conceive a new product range plan for the launch
  • Enlist a team to decamp all the shop contents ahead of the works and then put it all back at the end of the build phase
  • Design a suitable till area that works for the team and the new workflow which includes being paperless for all BUYING tasks
  • Agree what can be swapped out if the budget hits the max limiter e.g. wall bays are a bigger priority than floor units
  • Agree with Operations what approach we can take to hiding all the services but ensuring they are accessible when required
  • Need to settle how big the kids range should be
  • Regarding the initial eye view from outside the shop – agree what type of product will entice passersby

Gated Thrashing

Take the items on the list above and force them into one of four categories, with as many as possible in the first two.

First: before you start design and production

  • A solid project plan
  • Contractor to advise, design and build the extension – moderation 30th Jan
  • CPG approval to award
  • Lock in dates that don’t mess with the exhibition space next door
  • Conceive a new product range plan for the launch
  • Enlist a team to decamp all the shop contents ahead of the works and then put it all back at the end of the build phase
  • Design a suitable till area that works for the team and the new workflow which includes being paperless for all BUYING tasks
  • Agree what can be swapped out if the budget hits the max limiter e.g. wall bays are a bigger priority than floor units
  • Agree with Operations what approach we can take to hiding all the services but ensuring they are accessible when required
  • Need to settle how big the kids range should be

During: while you’re working

  • Regarding the initial eye view from outside the shop – agree what type of product will entice passersby

Testing

  • Design a suitable till area that works for the team and the new workflow which includes being paperless for all BUYING tasks

Final

  • Need to settle how big the kids range should be

 

Don’t worry if you don’t think what you ship is good enough. It is. The scarce part is the shipping.

This post uses the SHIPIT project checklist which is a handy PDF.

Being at the edge

When I was learning my advanced motorcycle skills my instructor said the only way to know when you are on the the limit is to pass it. It’s why in practice in all sports you see them seemingly make mistakes, miss, wobble or crash. The fact is they simply need to find the very edge as that’s where the fear lies and the opportunity. If you won’t go to the edge someone else will. I’d prefer to wobble rather than crash but if the edge is the place to be then so be it.

PS I thought about this as I was riding my motorcycle last week and tried a new line through a roundabout and lost the front for a microsecond before regaining control.

Reading list 2018

Starting off the year with a book I tried to finish at the top of the year but didn’t quite pull off. According to my Reading List 2017 I managed to read 10 books which isn’t bad going considering the packed year and lack of public transport time. I love to buy new books faster than I can read them like a true book fiend. I hope to continue finding new homes once I’ve finished them too. Books are meant to be read.

  1. Originals by Adam Grant finished 5th January . Paperback ISBN 9780753556993. A look at how you can think and/or let others let loose their originality.
  2. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin finished 27th February. Hardback ISBN 9781250183866. A nice blend of military accounts and leadership principles that focus on owning mistakes and failures. Get Some!
  3. The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck finished 24th April. Paperback ISBN 9781846041075. Not my usual style of book and I struggled with it passed the first third. Oh well.
  4. the four by Scott Galloway finished 16 May 2018. Hardback ISBN 9780593077894. An insightful and witty take on four of the largest businesses on the planet. Lots of bits made me chuckle but there is a serious thread about the lack of control and tiny employment these guys generate directly. Def worth a read.
  5. Digital transformation at scale: why the strategy is delivery by Andrew Greenway, Ben Terrett, Mike Bracken and Tom Loosemore finished 28 May 2018. Paperback ISBN 9781907994784. A great recap of hundreds of people’s efforts in the past 6 years to drive digital change, for government but also to support folks like me in local government. The book does a good job of acting as part potted history and part guidance for getting things done. A message throughout is that it isn’t complicated, it’s just hard. A must read not only for those who are believers but also for folks who disregard or shrug off digital as something that can be ignored. Thank you to the GDS folks and everybody fighting the good fight.
  6. Hunting the Nazi Bomb by Damien Lewis finished 16 June 2018. Paperback ISBN 9781786482105. A story based on true events in and around Norway during the war to stop Germany gaining the ability to produce an atom bomb.

Sharing scales

If you need a tool, process or reference material then please do share that widely. Tell a colleague, speak at a staff meeting, write about it on the web. There is a very good chance someone else can benefit. Sharing what we do, why “that” choice and “how” we do something allows others to benefit. Your own  way  not  even  be  the best. Low cost for you but scalable for the sector.
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