Over the Christmas break, and after an extremely hectic Autumn Term, Louise Barnes invited me to join her team at Crew Clothing for a week. This was an amazing opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into several departments I had no experience of, including e-Commerce and Merchandising.
For me, the experience began with my first ‘job’ in retail- working as a Retail Assistant in a Crew Clothing store in my hometown, Ilkley. Louise advised this was a good place to start, as although I have a fairly varied employment history, I had never worked on a shop floor. The two days I spent with the team in Ilkley was great; an eye-opening experience into the demands of store, personnel and stock management, as well as the challenges involved with maintaining high levels of customer service. This experience left me with plenty of questions to ask the relevant departments at Crew HQ down in London the following week (as well as a new admiration for the patience and endurance of Retail Assistants in the weeks before Christmas!)
My week in London began with a visit to Louise’s sister, Kate Barron, at Frame Recruitment. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with Kate talking over my career plans as well as reviewing my CV and LinkedIn profile. This was a hugely valuable experience and Kate leant a fresh perspective to the discussion, suggesting many avenues I hadn’t ever considered.
The following day, I headed out to Crew Head Office in Earlsfield. Crew had ‘gone into sale’ the day before I arrived, and due to how Christmas would fall on the calendar, the teams were under significant pressure to have the sale running smoothly before they left for their Christmas breaks. I’m therefore hugely grateful to those who welcomed me for the day and showed me what they were working on.
I spent my first day with the e-Commerce team understanding how Crew presents its offer online, reorganising the sale based on the previous day’s trading figures and understanding how the team utilises software such as heatmap tracking, as well as sales data, to monitor Key Performance Indicators such as time on site, traffic source, conversion rate and shopping basket abandonment. Day 2 was spent with the merchandising team as they negotiated probable ‘further reductions’ to go live in the second part of the sale, based on current stock cover and product fragmentation. With no experience of merchandising beforehand, it was fascinating to see a process, that you don’t really think about, in action. I spent Day 3 back in more familiar territory in the HR team. I was tasked with assisting the HR Manager in his report on a staffing issue. Again, this was a great insight into the day-to-day operations of a large business.
I also took the opportunity to catch up with Louise over lunch, where we discussed my current plans for next year. Although I had been looking for a graduate role, a combination of a heavy load of coursework based modules, my dissertation and lengthy online applications had left me uninspired and de-motivated. We both agreed that it would be beneficial if I re-assessed my options once I’ve graduated and spend my final few months at UoB enjoying my studies and my down time, rather than spreading myself too thinly. After this chat, I feel much more positive about my plans moving forward and I look forward to catching up with Louise again in the New Year.
Ellie Pinfield, 4th Year BSc International Business with Language