From Clicks to Bricks; why e-Tail is moving into Retail

Hi, I’m Laura the Trend Forecaster here at Scarlet Opus and I’m going to give you a little explanation about our hot topic ‘Clicks to Bricks’.

First of all, what does it mean? Well, ‘click to bricks’ is a term given to renowned online retailers moving into physical spaces on our high street. Traditionally it has been known for retail brands to succeed in store first before establishing an online presence however the growing trend of ‘clicks to bricks’ demonstrates that well-known online retailers are now becoming more experimental and toying with the two concepts of online and offline.

Creating a virtual presence before moving into a physical space is becoming a more recognisable transition; moving away from the web is not a step backwards but is about adapting to consumer needs. The brands that do create multiple channels of distribution are offering a variety of shopping experiences to suit individual consumer lifestyles.

A couple of examples of this movement include US online accessories brand Bauble Bar, online eyewear brand Warby Parker and online menswear retailers Bonobos.

These brands are less concerned with the traffic that ground level high street shops provide and more interested in the consumer experience, which can inform later decisions made regarding the future of the store.

No doubt you’ll all be familiar with the ongoing rise of the pop-up shop in recent years; which could be seen as another form of the ‘clicks to bricks’ model. This allows online retailers to ‘test the water’ before moving permanently into a physical space. This has been happening more and more as we see e-tailers take over high street stores on a short term basis or even set up their own physical space to attract consumers to take a look. With the majority of the products showcased online, small retail outlets can merely be a way of showcasing these products in real life, giving customers a chance to look and touch before they buy (showrooming).This is also a great way to boost the brand recognition.

Image courtesy of – Image courtesy of

Ebay pop up shop in Covent Garden London – Image courtesy of Ebay store in New York – Image courtesy of

We are also seeing retail brands moving into a more digital way of thinking and creating methods that mimic the online shopping experience. By blurring the lines between the digital online platform and the physical in store experience; retailers are creating a multichannel presence to expand the brand and enhance the consumer shopping experience. For example more brands are using digital services in store such as touchscreens, interactive displays and tools to enable customers to creatively customise their products, this offers a unique, quality experience to the customer, as well as making it convenient and hassle free for anybody to purchase the products.

The window below includes a huge touchscreen that’s ready to take your order and deliver your goods in less than an hour:

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Amazon locker installations are being set up in many densely populated locations around the world. For the urban dwellers it is a great way to collect items at a precise location rather than worry about deliveries being left unattended on the doorstep.

js1600_Amazon-LockerSo why is this happening you ask… well, online shopping is becoming easier than ever before with laptops, tablets and smart phones all at our fingertips, with one click to buy and one touch of a button is all you need to purchase items online however; consumers are in search of that unique shopping experience with that personalised touch.

Not only is it important to physically feel the connection with a product but also to have the personal customer service in store. Consumers want to touch, feel and engage before they buy, to be able to have the tactile aspect with the convenience of online options such as home delivery or collection while interaction with digital devices enrich the shopping experience.

The convenience of shopping from the comfort of your own home is obviously beneficial in many ways, particularly for those who work 9-to-5 or those without transport to reach shops and not forgetting those (like myself) who sometimes like to indulge in a late night ASOS shopping spree, yet to be able to physically see and feel what you’re buying adds a completely different dynamic to the whole experience.

js1600_scarlet opus edit‘Clicks to Bricks’ describes the online retailers that are setting up space in physical stores, these retailers are adapting to consumer needs by creating unique shopping experiences.

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Let There Be (LED) Light

At Scarlet Opus we love a good infographic.  Yes. We. Do.

So when we spotted this one all about LED lighting we thought “Hey, let’s share it” … not because we have a particular fascination with LED lighting (we all know about the environmental benefits and long-term financial savings) but because we like the offbeat style and quirky wording used to gently inform, rather than the usual hard sell.  Our favourite fun reason to switch to LED lighting is number 12 – that guy is rockin’ a great moustache & cardigan combo!


Miss P is out & about in Dubai today photographing a new retail hot spot.  She’ll be posting her findings at the end of the week – so be sure to check back soon!

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The Truth About Internships

js1024_ZakDuring my 2nd year at Uni some students that were on placements gave a talk on how they felt their placement was going. They all experienced different areas of expertise – some were doing fashion, interiors, marketing and buying etc… But they all had one thing in common – they all commented on the fact their placement year gave them a better understanding and focus on what to create in their final year.

Being a student myself who is currently on placement with Scarlet Opus, it made me think about and evaluate my time working for a company compared to Uni life.  So I decided to interview other design students who are also on placements and ask them to reflect on their time as Interns:

Gemma textThe 1st student I interviewed was Gemma Tovey who is currently a student on the ‘Surface Design for Fashion & Interiors’ course at the University of Huddersfield.  She is over half way through her placement year. She has done lots of different placements so far covering both the Interiors and Fashion sectors, and ranging from a weeks placement to 3 months.  This has included placements with Muraspec, Scarlet Opus, Ege Carpets, Me & Thee, Topshop, and her current placement at Marks & Spencer:

ZI: How are you finding your placement year?

GT: Overall I am finding my placement year very interesting and inspiring.  So far I have gained a really positive experience seeing the range of career paths/opportunities, which are available within the industry. I also feel it has been a good experience working in a different environment from University, meeting and working with other like-minded designers.

ZI: Is it what you expected?

GT: Having never previously worked in the Fashion or Interiors industry before my placement year I was quite unsure about what to expect. However having now being on a few different work placements I have found various aspects to be as expected but there were also areas within the companies I did not expect. For example I have worked with both large and small-scale design teams, working to different time scales and seasons using different design methods to suit their target customer:



ZI: Would you recommend other students to pursue a placement or go straight to final year?

GT: I would definitely recommend a placement year to other students although it can be quite difficult at times, a work placement really gives you a higher, more realistic understanding of the industry and what is expected of you once you graduate.  Whilst more personally, I feel it has also helped make me more prepared for my final year developing both my design and personal confidence. It is also a great opportunity to gain some feedback and advice from the people in the industry and develop some contacts.

ZI: What advice would you give to companies who offer Internships?

GT: I would say it is really important to make real use of placement students so they can have the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.  From my own experience I have found that practically taking part in set briefs has helped make me more focused, interested and eager to get involved. I would also encourage companies to be open, welcoming and willing to answer questions.



Kimberley text

The 2nd student is Kimberley Harrington, who is a 23 year old 3rd year student on the ‘BSc (Hons) Textile Design for Fashion & Interiors’ degree course. In September 2012 she started to work with an automotive interior design company called Sage Automotive based in Bury, north Manchester:

ZI: What skills have you learnt and how will they help in your final year?

KH: So far, half way through, I feel like my eyes have really opened to how this area of the textile world works.  I have an ever improving understanding of the automotive fabric production process and general critical timing … due to our fabrics and finishing being carried out in different areas of Europe, this can really play havoc with getting samples to design meetings on time, and makes having our own Uni assignments in on time look like a piece of cake.

ZI: What were the incentives for going for a placement year?

KH: I had reservations when starting my placement about what I would be spending my 11 months doing exactly.  In the interview I was asked did I understand that the role involved a lot of chopping and filing of fabrics for the many different customers. However at the back of my mind was, was I really choosing the right words as there were many other placements available that seemed at the time to be more exciting; but a bonus was that this was a paid placement in Manchester – an area I was familiar with. What I did understand was automotive design involved travel and this was a huge appeal. I also come from a sales background and enjoy working with people. So ‘automotive’ seemed a good choice for a placement experience as it involves many global customers and companies.

ZI: Has the placement met your expectations?

KH: When I accepted the offer I was still a little anxious but can safely say I have never looked back! In my first week I was introduced to a new embellishment development project which, little did I know at the time, was to become my own main project! This alone, in my 2nd week, took me to Brussels to attend a meeting at Toyota Engineering headquarters. Since then I have also worked on the recoloring of current production fabrics, designing new embossing plates, attending design brief meetings with customers, trend research (including trips to MooD & Heimtextil trend shows), and benchmarking, alongside the usual studio work of designing, re-creating and archive work.




Faye text

The final student I’ve interviewed is Faye Ruth Seale who is studying ‘Surface Design for Fashion and Interiors’ at the University of Huddersfield, and she went straight into her final year studies without doing a placement in industry:

ZI: As a future designer what do you feel is going to be the next big thing in terms of themes, patterns and colours for the Interiors market?

FS: I think integrating patterns and repeats are the future, referring to the economy to try and make the designs more interesting and have more depth to them, and using pastel colours to lighten up the mood but still using neutral colours.

Have a look at our Getting Nude blog for inspiration on using pastel and neutral colours.

ZI: Do you feel by going straight into your final year studies it has given you a disadvantage compared to the students who went on placements?

FS: Yes it has.  The main reason I came to this University was because of the placement year, and I turned down another University and course because of it.  If I was given a placement I feel I would have learnt a lot more and gained so much more experience rather than jumping straight into my final year.

ZI: What was the reason for going straight into final year and were you ready?

FS: The reason I went straight into my final year was because I could only get a 2 week placement and even then I couldn’t do it as I could not afford the rent as it was in London.  I do not feel like I was ready to go straight into my final year as I feel I still have so much to learn before I go into industry.



I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the students who have taken the time to contribute to today’s blog post. I hope this has helped many of you who are either thinking of looking for internships with companies or for businesses who are considering hiring student interns – just think how you would be responsible for helping future designers develop their understanding within business!

zakandvIt really has been a brilliant experience for me. I came in with no experience and skills of working in industry but over the 5 months so far I have gained confidence in my approach to work. I have always been a grafter but the company have now made me feel confident as they set the task and they leave me to create and offer advice when I most need it. They have boosted my self-esteem and belief in my designs. They see me as part of the team and value my opinions.

Some students may experience positive outcomes whereas others may not but all experience it valuable, not every business has the same method of teaching and their approach will be different. I can thankfully say my experience has been very promising and I don’t have any regrets doing my placement!


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Life & Work in 2112: 100Dreams | 100Minds | 100Years

Towards the end of 2011 our Managing Director & Lead Trend Forecaster – Victoria Redshaw – was invited by President & CEO of Steelcase Inc – Jim Hackett – to be one of “100 Minds” participating in the “100 Dreams, 100 Minds, 100 Years,” project celebrating Steelcase’s 100th anniversary.  The project is an exploration into our world and work life 100 years from now.

The project has sought insights about the future by bringing together a community of 100 people from around the world; people who have excelled in their field through their unique vision of the world and who are embracing the future as they shape it.  These 100 Minds have imagined the world to come, creating a picture of the world of work we’re already beginning to create and provided insights into the discoveries that lie ahead.

As a participant Victoria has joined a global community of leading thinkers, who are together creating hopeful potential for the century ahead by sharing their insights and dreams.

The project was officially launched during the TED 2012 conference on Tuesday 28th Feb so we can now reveal the 500 word insight statement written by Victoria (in collaboration with the Scarlet Opus team) and we can also showcase the short video created by our Creative Director – Shelley Pond.

100 years from now we’ll be intrinsically connected to each other and technology. We will have evolved beyond Capitalism and Consumerism.  There will be no monetary system.  No one charges for anything, we don’t pay or get paid for anything.  Life is no longer about working to make money to buy ‘stuff’.  It is about making the best decisions possible together to make systems work better, so we can enjoy our time together.   We are a Humanist society.                                                              

We print our food, products and clothing at home.  Robots undertake all physical work to allow us time for Free Thinking and Play.                                    

The need to control technological devices physically will have long ceased.  Our personal computer will be exactly that – implanted into our brains.  No need for a smart phone, Sat-Nav or laptop – our onboard computer does everything.  This will also facilitate huge advances in Augmented Reality, allowing the physical world to be visually scanned and digital displays of detailed information about people, products and buildings to be superimposed by our Minds-Eye.  All that we see and experience is recorded and saved – then simply select a time/date for total recall of past events and freeze frame scenes, even project this 3D Moment for other people to see and walk around.                                                                                                          

There is no need to sit at a desk all day typing on a keyboard.  We simply sit in a quiet, relaxed, meditative state and mentally compose our messages for recipients to read and reply to.  We can connect to colleagues and friends via Aided Telepathy and chat together in virtual Think Sessions. 

The old saying “I could do that in my sleep” finally becomes a reality as we split our night’s sleep into levels of Focused Dreaming and Recreational Dreaming.  At the Focused Dreaming level many communication tasks can be completed including report & email writing, designing and planning.  This frees us up during our waking work hours to meet colleagues for relaxed and enjoyable real life Think Sessions.  We have no offices.  We ‘come together’ in stimulating or relaxing spaces to truly interact – this is what the word ‘company’ now means; being in each other’s company and seeking improvement for all through our decision making.  We are all inventors, designers, policy makers and guardians of the law (although crime is rare).                                    

Public transport finally rules the day and comes in the form of self-driving pods that deliver us to our chosen destination safely and on time.  Sit back, chat, enjoy the scenery, have a nap, sift through your Aided Telepathy emails or print a snack.  All methods of travel create rather than use energy.  And every movement we make personally creates energy that is channelled and stored. 

Sickness is eradicated.  When we begin to get ill our onboard computer picks up on the change to our system and immediately dispenses drugs stored internally.  Replacement organs are printed and incredible advances in Synthetic Biology means life expectancy is 100+ years for everyone. 

Welcome to the future.”

Victoria Redshaw

Managing Director,
Scarlet Opus

The insights of the other 99 inaugural participants are being gradually published to the anniversary website here and it will then be opened-up for public discussion globally.  John Hockenberry, the journalist and author, will curate the responses.

Here is a short video created to promote the “100 Dreams, 100 Minds, 100 Years” project:

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