Report – Clicks and Mortar: The New Retail Space

Posted on: Wednesday 03 July 2019 11:30pm by Michelle Jones

This panel discussed the way in which merchandising, the retail space and the licensing industry is adapting to the digital disruption it’s facing.  With a seismic shift in the retail environment as 60% of purchases are now online – which has grown from 20% in 2017 – how are brand owners today creating new consumer product stories by developing their own direct-to-consumer platforms for the paying audience?


  • We need to look at consumers (millennial parents) and where they want to shop.
  • The more IP owners can demonstrate their products are wanted by consumers –  the better placed they are to get into traditional retail landscapes.
  • Licensing spikes are coming from non-traditional TV content now (such as gaming – e.g. Fortnight). This is a chance to create huge licensed merchandising opportunities.
  • Build a long term relationship with consumers and trends – by always staying relevant.


Alison Watkins called out the need to adapt to a shrinking retail landscape and offer a digital space to extend beyond the traditional retail shelves. Whilst Coolabi have foot in both camps – traditional retail and e-commerce – as well as the Clangers Online Shop (, this can allow Coolabi to speak to directly to their customers.

Russell Dever talked about their KidsCast SVOD entertainment platform, where they can talk directly to consumers. Unsurprisingly, this has become a huge success and has led to retail shops. He also spoke about the need for imaginative ideas for IP licensing, like taking licensed ‘Roobarb and Custard’ IP directly to the consumer with ‘Two Near the Bone’ dog food. The whole concept is marketed directly to consumers in a landscape where dog food is such a fast growing FMCG product.

Laura Edwards wowed delegates with her latest direct to consumer event featuring influencer Tiana, who has 10.5million subscribers on YouTube. By creating an original brand IP ‘Hearts by Tiana’ and opening a pop-up shop in Birmingham they brought the city to a standstill with over 10,000 fans visiting the store over two days. With fans co-designing products and directly liaising with Tiana (and the team) they can produce ethically sourced and recyclable products that their consumers want on a tight turnaround…. and by partnering with Asda they use can offer traditional and non-traditional sales for their target audience.

Jules Coke described the problems they had with traditional licensing of Okido magazine distribution and the merchandising challenges they faced before they took it in-house and sold directly to consumers at Okido.Com. Owned data allows them to manage stocks and deliver what their audiences want – and this year it is not slime! The e-commerce strategy success has led to the opening of an owned retail store with more to follow.

Sharing his success story and the challenges, Jason Krough said his team thought outside the box and hired a toy designer in order to sell through specialty retail. This allowed for better creative control as well the chance to play-test products each week, speak to parents directly and create apps that consumers want.

It’s not a quick fix for commercial success and there are areas such as safety regulations that are very time consuming – however it allows them to be nimble and more importantly, try new things.

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Michelle Jones

About the author

Michelle Jones

Brilliant Casting Ltd., Casting Director & Producer

Michelle has over 20 years experience in the entertainment industry and  started Brilliant Casting in 2012. Michelle casts star talent, children and  ‘brilliant’ actors for pilots, TV shows and feature films such as 'The Big Bad Fox', 'Stardog & Turbocat', 'Thomas & Friends', 'Bob The Builder', 'Robozuna', 'Claude' and 'Paddington' for… Read more