Blue Eyed Sun

Blue Eyed Sun - gorgeous greetings cards

BES Blog

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Valentines Cards for 2019

    Blue Eyed Sun - Valentines Day Cards

    Blue Eyed Sun have launched two new ranges of Valentines Cards for 2019. Valentine's Day falls on Thursday 14th February 2019 and you can order from us right up until the last minute. Lines do sell out, so don't leave it too late! Here's what's new for Valentine's Day 2019:

    Pictured at the top of this post is Blue Eyed Sun's Biscuit Valentines range, based on original designs by artist, Jo Corner. These gorgeous new Valentine's Day designs are made with decoupage elements and hand finished with jewels. The cards are all 120mm square.

    Pictured below is our new Lush range of 160mm square cards hand finished with jewels.

    Sold in sixes to trade buyers only, all of our new ranges of Valentines Day cards for 2019 are barcoded, cello-wrapped with a red envelope and blank inside. Our Valentines cards are all printed on FSC board from sustainable managed forests. There is still time to order these cards for your store and we have a large selection of designs online in the trade only section of our site.

    To stock these gorgeous cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them towards or you can recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a stockist near you.

    See our cards in person at Autumn Fair - Stand 4A35

    Click here to see our Mother's Day 2019 designs

    See our Father's Day 2019 designs

    Lush card range by Blue Eyed Sun

  • Home and Gift 2018 - Essential Information

    Home And Gift 2018Blue Eyed Sun will soon be exhibiting at the Home and Gift 2018 trade show on a new stand in Design Point One (DP1). Officially launching at this well loved show is an fresh new range range of handmade cards called Biscuit. We also have sneak previews of our wonderful Spring 2019 selection and an exciting new range. As well as our top selling range of market leading reusable BambooCups made from bamboo fibre so be sure to stop by and see us.

    Quote Voucher code HG18 when ordering during the show (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE.

    About Home and Gift 2018

    This annual trade show is a highlight on buyers' calendars for it's relaxed Summery atmosphere and great range of products on offer in the run up to Christmas. It runs for four days from Sunday 15th July to Wednesday 18th July from 09:00 - 18:00 at the Harrogate International Centre. It really is a pleasure doing business at this show, so don't miss it!

    To register for Home and Gift please click here.

    Where to Stay at Home and Gift 2018

    The closest hotels to the show are the Holiday InnTravel LodgePremier Inn and The Old Swan a short walk away with prices from £65-£150. You can search a List of Hotels in Harrogate by clicking here. A good tip if you can't find a room is to stay in York, a short train ride away.

    Where to Eat at Home and Gift 2018

    Harrogate has many wonderful restaurants and cafes including the world famous Betty's Tea Rooms. We've sampled lots of them over the years and have short listed some of our favourites for you to try below:

    4 Great Restaurants near the Harrogate International Centre

    How to get to Home and Gift 2018

    The roads into Harrogate can get very congested so allow plenty of time if you are coming by car. The Harrogate International Centre post code is HG1 5LA and there are 400 car spaces on site with a daily cost of £13. These spaces get pretty full so you may like to use the park and ride scheme running from the Great Yorkshire Showground on the A61 (Post code HG2 8NZ).  All parking will be available on a concrete surface, which will be safe for use for any visitors.

    Trains run every half hour from Leeds and every hour from York. There is a free shuttle bus from Harrogate train station to the show. You can fly to Leeds Bradford airport (20 minute drive from the show). Buses go every 90 minutes and take half an hour.

    For more information on travel for the show click here.

    How to find DP 1 at Home and Gift

    When you get to Harrogate do remember to come and see us in DP 1 on stand D110.

    Can't make the show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

    Home and Gift Show map 2018

  • The Retas Awards 2018 - Winners and Finalists

    The Retas Awards 2018 WinnersCongratulations to all of the finalists and winners of the Retas Awards 2018 celebrating Greeting Card Retailing in the UK. We would especially like to thank all of you who stock our cards! We consider ourselves very privileged to be serving such a fine host of retailers.

    The Retas Awards 2018 Winners and Finalists are

    Jan Dowell, manager of three Card Factory stores, Merry Hill shopping centre, Birmingham won Greeting Card Retail Employee of the Year

    Emma Guy, sales assistant of Jarrolds, Norwich
    Kelly Medgett, store manager of Card Factory, Bluewater shopping centre, Kent
    Norma Tomkinson, The Card Room supervisor for Gee Tee's, Westhoughton
    Samantha Williams, retail store manager of Blaby Post Office, Blaby
    Tracy Wynne, manager of Hallmark, Widnes

    Paperchase won Greeting Card Retailer of the Year

    Northwood Cards & Gifts won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - London (inside the M25)

    Finalists 2018
    Caxton - Temple Fortune
    Medici Gallery - South Kensington
    Mooch - Ealing
    Moments - Wanstead
    My Favourite Things - Raynes Park

    Cardies - Stevenage won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - Home Counties

    Finalists 2018
    Card Shack - Broadstairs
    Creased Cards - Brighton
    Moda - Folkestone
    Nest at No 9 - Olney
    White Mint -Berkhamsted and St Albans

    Snape Maltings - Aldeburgh won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - East Anglia

    Finalists 2018
    Cards R Us - South Woodham Ferrers
    The Card Shop - Norwich
    Celebrations Hallmark - Aylsham
    The House Of Cards - Lincoln
    The Olive Branch - Billericay and Brentwood

    Southbourne Cards - Bournemouth won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - South West

    Finalists 2018
    Just Cards - Honiton
    Lorelei - Truro
    Occasional Cards - Kingsbridge
    Paper Moon - Sidmouth
    Romantica - three stores in Bristol

    The Little Card & Gift Company - Newport won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - Wales and the Midlands

    Finalists 2018
    Austin & Co - Malvern
    Celebrations - Stourbridge
    Nest - Leicester
    Paperweight - Cardiff
    You - Stamford

    Hallmark Widnes - Widnes won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - North and Northern Ireland

    Finalists 2018
    Just For You - Belfast
    RBUK - Rochdale
    Reflections - Nantwich
    Sincerely Yours - Warrington
    Thinking Of You - Denby Dale

    Kairds - Kirkwall won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - Scotland

    Finalists 2018
    Everyone's Designs - Edinburgh
    Gibsons of Haddington - Haddington
    JP Pozzi and Bijou - Buckie and Elgin
    Paper Tiger - two stores in Edinburgh
    Top Drawer - St Andrews

    Bromley & Co - Ipswich won Best Greeting Card Retailer Newcomer Or New Branch - South

    Finalists 2018
    Cat's Whiskers - Bishops Cleeve
    Mustard - Oadby
    Objectables - Folkestone
    Paper Turtle - Lewes
    Wave - Bungay

    Baileys Cards & Gifts (Hallmark) - Ainsdale won Best Greeting Card Retailer Newcomer or New Branch North

    Finalists 2018
    Best Wishes - Garstang
    Cards & Gifts - Sheffield
    West Kirby Cards - Wirral
    Holly Blue - Saltburn By The Sea
    Pencil Me In - Elgin

    Gerrards Cross & Chorleywood Bookshops won Best Independent Bookstore Retailer of Greeting Cards

    Finalists 2018
    Carnforth Bookshop - Carnforth
    Daunt Books - eight stores
    Diss Publishing Bookshop - Diss
    The Guisborough Bookshop - Guisborough
    Wimbledon Books - Wimbledon

    Blaby Post Office - Blaby won Best Non-Specialist Independent Retailer of Greeting Cards - North

    Finalists 2018
    The Apple Tree Gift Shop & Teahouse - Ockbrook
    Church Gallery - Kirkby Stephen
    Gift + Home - Altrincham and Hale
    Oklahoma - Manchester
    QLM House & Home - Leeds

    Cadeaux & Co - Chipping Sodbury and Wells won Best Non-Specialist Independent Retailer of Greeting Cards - South

    Finalists 2018
    Darts Farm Shop - Topsham
    Fourteen Lifestyle - Stroud
    Ginger Fig - Taunton
    In Heaven At Home - Market Harborough
    Newport Pagnell Post Office - Newport Pagnell

    House of Cards won Best Greeting Card Small Multiple (4-20 stores)

    Finalists 2018
    3 Wishes - Broadstone, Ferndown, Lymington, Ringwood and Verwood
    Between The Lines - 14 stores in the South
    Mayther - seven stores in the South
    Postmark - five stores in London
    Zo & Co - four stores in Greater Manchester and Cheshire

    Morley Group won Best Department Store Retailer of Greeting Cards

    Finalists 2018
    Atkinsons - Sheffield
    Barkers - Northallerton
    Bentalls - Kingston
    Fenwicks of Newcastle - Newcastle
    John Lewis - 50 stores

    Sainsbury's won Best Supermarket Retailer of Greeting Cards

    Finalists 2018

    Gee Tee's won Best Non-Specialist Multiple Retailer of Greeting Cards (4+ stores)

    Finalists 2018
    Marks & Spencer -1000+ stores nationwide
    National Trust - 200+ stores nationwide
    Oliver Bonas - 70 stores nationwide
    Waterstones - 250+ stores nationwide
    WHSmith - 611 stores nationwide

    Paperchase won Best Specialist Multiple Retailer of Greeting Cards (20+ stores)

    Finalists 2018
    Cards Direct - 20+ stores
    Card Factory - 900+ stores
    Cards Galore - 50 stores
    Cardzone Group -100+ stores
    Scribbler -34 stores

    Garsons - Esher and Titchfield won Best Garden Centre Retailer of Greeting Cards

    Finalists 2018
    British Garden Centres - 10 branches nationwide
    Hawley Garden Centre - Dartford
    Klondyke & Strikes - 22 garden centres
    Longacres - Bagshot, Bybrook Barn, Chobham and Shepperton
    Thurrock Garden Centre - Ockenden

    Blue Rose Gifts & Balloons, Heywood - for its 1940s celebration and Armed Forces Day initiative won Best Greeting Card Retailer Initiative

    Finalists 2018
    Calliope Gifts, Alton, Dorking and Haywards Heath - for its Thinking of You Week initiative
    Dragonfly Cards & Gifts, Knaresborough - for its Thank You Teacher initiative
    Ohh Deer, Ipswich - for its Creative Corner
    Scribbler - for its Valentine's Speed Dating Event
    Wishes of Cudworth - for its Cudworth Bunny Trail

    Jacksons - Sheffield won Best Greeting Card Service Based Wholesaler

    Finalists 2018
    Archway Cards - Norwich
    Budget Greeting Cards - eight branches UK and Eire
    Crosswear Trading - Enfield
    Greetings House - Walsall
    Paul White Group - Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham

    Now in their fourteenth year, The Retas Awards are established in recognition of the tremendous contribution that retailers - both large and small - make to the success of the greeting card industry. Launched by Progressive Greetings magazine in 2005, The Retas Awards recognise and celebrate not only the top independent and multiple greeting card retailers regionally and nationally, but also the new generation of retailers as well as employees of outstanding excellence.

    This year the Retas Awards, the ‘Oscars’ of greeting card retailing, was held at at an oceanic "into the blue" themed luncheon at at The Dorchester Hotel on Wednesday 11th July, where the Retas Awards 2018 winners were announced by comedian Tania Edwards. Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists!

    Click here to see previous winners of The Retas Awards

    Click here to request more information on Blue Eyed Sun

  • The Importance of Taking on New Challenges

    Taking On New ChallengesIt easy to stay safe in life and to avoid taking on new challenges. We can often become complacent, especially when we are scared of failing, getting hurt or losing what we already have. The truth is: change is inevitable. Even if we do nothing, we can still fail, get hurt and lose everything.

    To be successful in business and make the most of life you have to get comfortable with taking on new challenges. You have to get used to the difficulties, the unknowns and the pain. You almost need to look forward to them so that it becomes habitual and forces you to grow. 

    I currently have four new challenges that are testing my comfort zone:

    The Giftware Association

    I am honoured to have been elected as the new chairman of the GA. It's a trade organisation founded in 1947 with a rich history of contribution to the heart of our industry. Most famously it birthed Spring Fair and Autumn Fair as well as creating the ever popular Gift of the Year Awards. I'm excited to be working with our new deputy chairman, Henri Davis, and our new vice-chairman, Gert Schyberg, our experienced team of dedicated volunteers on the National Committee, our knowledgable BATF board, our talented Chief Executive, Sarah Ward, and our hard working in-house GA Team.

    Our challenge is to continue to drive active member engagement and grow membership numbers. Improving our website, our blog, enhancing our social media activity and updating our CRM system will all help. As will increasing the number of members paying by direct debit or standing order to reduce wasted time chasing outstanding payments. If you are a member, you can assist us by automating your payments to enable the team to spend more time helping you and other members. You can also help by keeping us informed of the issues that matter most to you and what you need in your business right now. We are here for you, please do engage with us.

    To take on this challenge I will be drawing on the strengths of the GA team, the board, our members and National Committee members to help drive forward the changes needed. This will stretch my comfort zone as I will also be doubling the number of work days I currently have committed to the GA. The fact that we have such an excellent group of people involved is inspiring. 

    The Gobi Desert

    I have spent the past six months learning how to ride a motorbike, gaining my license, training on an off road KTM bike and improving my physical fitness in order to take part in a 1,500 km enduro motorbike ride across the Gobi Desert. The trip with friends is self funded and supported.

    I am raising funds for the Christina Noble Foundation, which helps street children in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital city in the world with temperatures dropping to-30°C in the winter and destitute children living in appalling conditions in sewers and air conditioning ducts just to try and keep warm. All of my own challenges pale in significance to what these kids have to endure. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do to help them with the funds we raise. If you’d like to be involved see the link below.

    My journey to Mongolia has not been without its challenges. First I had to overcome my fear motorbikes. My grandfather was left disabled my motorbike accident in his late teens. As a teenager myself, the first and only time I got on a motorbike I crashed it within 10 minutes of hiring it and then crashed twice on the way to the hospital to get myself stitched back together. I was terrified the day I took my CBT (certificate of basic training) in January. With practice I have  learned to love riding a motorbike, and I really love off-road dirt biking. 

    Everything about this challenge has stretched my comfort zone, physically and mentally. Recently, I suffered a further set back by fracturing my wrist during training. Making this trip be about something more than me drives me to complete my journey there. I also cannot wait to see the stars in the desert at night. Having a purpose and goal that excites me has kept me going, even through the difficult times.

    Help street children in Mongolia by clicking here


    For years I have advised new publishers I mentor to avoid tying up their cash in giftware products and to focus on higher margin greeting cards. This year I have ignored my advice by signing an exclusive distribution deal for chic.mic’s BambooCup in the UK and Ireland. We relaunched the products in April and that they have been selling extremely well. We’ve also had a huge amount of interest from multiples across the UK and Ireland.

    I'm passionate about environmental and socially conscious products and am thrilled to be selling what I believe to be the finest reusable bamboo cup on the UK market containing the highest concentration of bamboo fibre, the best selection of designs and topped with a patented bamboo lid. 

    With lower profit margins and an alternative distribution model to greeting cards I am faced with a new set of challenges. Aside from the obvious financial and cash flow implications, I'm having to learn a lot about eco-friendly products and the giftware market. It's also forcing me to take a long hard look at our current sales model to figure out the most effective solutions for reaching our customers.

    In the long run, making difficult decisions and learning new things will have a positive effect on my own personal development and our business as a whole. It stretches our team, opens new doors and it helps us to grow beyond what we would've achieved just selling cards. It's also exciting to be part of a fast-growing product category in retail right now.

    Greeting Cards

    Speaking to my more experienced colleagues in the card industry at PG Live, this year sounds like one of the most challenging ever in the greeting card market. Despite many companies creating exceptional work, competition is fierce and plenty of publishers and retailers are struggling.

    One of our biggest challenges as publishers is the delicate balance between creating work that we love and producing cards that sell. In an ideal world there would be beautiful synergy between the two. Unfortunately, and I find disappointingly, it is not always the case that cards we love to create necessarily sell that well.

    In a difficult environment it's essential to create the best greeting cards on the market. This is no easy task and there are no guarantees. What worked before may not do so any more. And yet one cannot do nothing. The market requires constant innovation and new product. This still presents opportunities. I'm excited about our fresh new Biscuit range of cards lunching in DP 1 at Home & Gift and I'm currently working on an exciting new socially conscious card project for 2019.

    I am starting to work with more designers in order to increase our chances of success with new ranges that are different and still commercial (the holy grail of card publishing). We have excellent distribution and make a great partner. I am also looking at import opportunities, licensing deals and other partnerships to grow our card sales.

    Again this is stretching my comfort zone as I have to learn to develop bestselling cards with other designers after so many years of working with one in-house designer. As well as new opportunities, new partnerships will present new challenges and new unknowns. I'm excited about these new ventures and what unknowns they will bring.


    If you want to overcome adversity and triumph over new obstacles and challenges you have to alter your mindset. You need to find ways of seeing past the difficulties rather than spending all your time looking at them. It's useless to you and those around you to complain about how difficult things are. At its simplest level just focus on the first step forward. Take a deep breath and take the step. With each following step you will grow stronger.

    Read more on the Giftware Association here

    Learn more about Jeremy's Gobi Desert Enduro

    Stock BambooCup in your store 

    Meet our fresh new card range called Biscuit

  • Gobi Desert Challenge for Christina Noble Foundation

    Jeremy Corner - Gobi Desert Motorbike

    Blue Eyed Sun MD and Giftware Association Chairman, Jeremy Corner, is embarking on a challenging 1,500km off road motorbike trip across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia from 2 - 11 July. Starting in Ulaanbaatar he will be riding with a group of eight friends and a support vehicle and staying in Gers (small huts) on a route that will cover distances of 150-200 miles each day.

    Riding KTM 450 6 Day Enduro off-road motorbikes on this self funded trip, he is aiming to raise £3,000 for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation which helps street children in Mongolia. The charity helps youngsters in desperate need on streets of Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital city in the world where temperatures drop to -40 degrees Celsius and unemployment runs at 60%. The funds raised will provide the children with access to warm accommodation, nutrition and social support through the Blue Skies Village initiative which Jeremy plans to visit during his trip. If the target is reached it will be enough to purchase a new ger for the village.

    Jeremy is a keen supporter of children's charities having run several marathons for the likes of Barnardos, Save the Children, RockinghorseCLDF and UNICEF. He was inspired to support the Christina Noble Foundation after seeing Noble, a film about Christina's own life.

    "Having a son and knowing how vulnerable children can be makes it all the more important that we help kids in the most challenging of conditions. They are the future of our planet and it makes so much sense to show them that there is love, generosity and compassion there for them. In time and with luck they will grow into adults who share these values." - Jeremy

    The Gobi desert is the fifth largest desert in the world and Asia's second largest. It's 500,000 square miles with a mixture of terrains and temperatures ranging up to 30 degrees celsius in July. In addition to physical training, Jeremy has spent the last six months learning to ride a motorbike, passing his license and training on off-road bikes in the UK to be able to complete this trip.

    If you’d like to support Jeremy’s fundraising please donate what you can here:

    Christina Noble Foundation Mongolia

    Gobi Desert Enduro

  • Jeremy Corner elected as Chairman of the Giftware Association

    Jeremy Corner Chairman The GA

    Blue Eyed Sun MD, Jeremy Corner, has been elected as the new Chairman of the Giftware Association (a.k.a. The GA). This follows two years of serving as Vice Chair to outgoing Chairman, Henri Davis, who will take over as Deputy Chair from Michael Pape from Ravensden. Gert Schyberg of Sebnini has taken over as the new Vice Chair.

    The GA is a trade organisation founded in 1947 with a rich history of contribution to the heart of the industry. Most famously it birthed Spring Fair and Autumn Fair as well as creating the ever popular Gift of the Year Awards. It boasts around 700 supplier and retailer members and is positioned at the heart of the Giftware Industry. It is a lifeline of support to it's members for its enormous range of resources, lobbying of government and offers a selection of discounts from key industry suppliers, small business services and trade shows.

    "I am honoured to have been elected as the new chairman of the GA. I'm excited to be working with Henri and Gert (pictured with Jeremy above), our experienced team of dedicated volunteers on the National Committee, our knowledgable BATF board, our talented Chief Executive, Sarah Ward, and our hard working in-house GA Team." - said Jeremy.

    "Our challenge is to continue to drive active member engagement and grow membership numbers. Improving our website, our blog, enhancing our social media activity and updating our CRM system will all help. As will increasing the number of members paying by direct debit or standing order to reduce wasted time chasing outstanding payments. If you are a member, you can assist us by automating your payments to enable the team to spend more time helping you and other members. You can also help by keeping us informed of the issues that matter most to you and what you need in your business right now. We are here for you, please do engage with us."

    Jeremy took on the new role at the GA Member's Day, held this year at the Mockingbird Cinema in Birmingham. The day included a talk on retail by retail expert Michael Wheedon and three informative panels discussing topics ranging from GDPR and legal compliance to awards and future proofing your business.

    Jeremy is also currently the Treasurer of the Greeting Card Association and an active mentor to small businesses in the card and gift industries through initiatives like The Ladder Club. Blue Eyed Sun has been a member of the GA since 2003 and Jeremy has sat on the National Committee since 2011.

    What is the point of Trade Organisations?

    What I learned from the Dutch Greeting Card Association

    Join the GA

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Biscuit greeting card range

    Biscuit Greeting CardsBlue Eyed Sun have launched a brand new range of everyday cards called Biscuit.

    Biscuit are based on beautiful original artworks by Jo Corner. Each card is handmade with acetate and hand finished with jewels, the range includes 54 gorgeous Everyday captions. They are 120mm square and come cello-wrapped with a coloured envelope.

    Biscuit cards all come cello wrapped with a coloured envelope that is 125mm x 125mm square. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our sales agents, by brochure, at shows or logging into Blue Eyed Sun's trade only website.

    A new Everyday Supplement 2018 is on its way to retailers featuring all our latest designs, which are available for delivery from 15th July.

    Biscuit are also available in Christmas and Mother's Day.

    You can see them all first in person at the events below:

    Home and Gift at the Harrogate International Centre 15-18 July 2018 -  Stand DP1-D110

    Autumn Fair at the NEC in Birmingham 2-5 September 2018 - Stand 4A35

    Glee at the NEC in Birmingham 10-12 September 2018 - Stand 19M20

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see an overview of Blue Eyed Sun ranges click here.

  • Business Ambition with Peter Jones from Dragons Den

    Jeremy Corner Peter Jones

    Watch Blue Eyed Sun MD, Jeremy Corner, on a Facebook Live panel session with Dragon's Den star and tycoon, Peter Jones. The panel was led by Kevin Poulter and included Janice B Gordon, both fellow Sage Business Experts. Organised by Sage the broadcast on 13th June was part of their ongoing support for business builders.

    The discussion included topics like ambition, what makes British business great, brexit, greeting cards and BambooCups. The evening continued with a fireside chat between Peter Jones and Sage CEO, Stephen Kelly. Attended by Sage customers it was fascinating to listen to Peter's journey and to hear tips for businesses within the audience.

    Click on the link to download a free ebook on Business Ambition.

    You can watch the playback of the discussion by clicking on the image below:

    NB. There are some issues with viewing this video internationally. We are working on this.

  • Christmas BambooCups 2018 - Package deal for Retailers

    Christmas - BambooCups

    We have an exclusive limited edition package of Christmas BambooCups by chic.mic especially for our trade customers this festive season. To guarantee delivery, we need you to confirm your order this week.

    We will deliver them at the date of your choosing with payment on your usual terms.

    The Christmas package product code is BCP-LE18 which includes all six designs in fours. Please note that these designs are not being sold on an individual basis. Carriage is free if you order by 22nd June.

    You can order by email, online or by phone. You must act this week to secure your order as stocks are limited and unfortunately we cannot guarantee supply if you order after Friday.

    Blue Eyed Sun announced as UK and Ireland Distributors for BambooCup

    Business and the environment

  • How to make your business fly

    How To Make Your Business Fly

    Running a business is a bit like flying a plane. Here's why and how to make your business fly.

    We all have key numbers in our businesses (often referred to as KPI’s - Key Performance Indicators) that we need to track on a regular basis. They’re kind of like the dials you’d use to fly an airplane. To help fly your business safely you need to measure and understand your customers, your products, your financials, your employees and your suppliers. 

    The dials are essential but they are not the whole deal. If we spend all of our time looking at them and not paying attention to what’s around us we can still crash. The information they provide is there to inform the decisions that pre-empt our actions. If we are only focussed on data and aren’t taking action we will also come unstuck. 

    Alternatively, if we don’t look at the dials and the environment, and simply rely on our intuition or feelings, we can be prone to making rash decisions. Actions taken without considering relevant information can also lead to injury. Before we take off, you need to understand what gives your business lift.

    Leveraging Numbers

    The numbers within the numbers are also important. You can have an overview of total sales from your customers, but if you don’t know that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers you could waste a lot of your time targeting the wrong customers in your marketing.

    The 80/20 rule was first noted by the Italian economist Vilfedo Pareto at the University of Lausanne in 1896. Also known as the Pareto Principle, it states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. It’s not a completely fool-proof system, but it can give useful insights into your business.

    You can use it on almost anything in your life to help you focus on taking action on the things that matter most and to minimise time spent on the things that matter the least.

    Imagine, for example, that 70% of your profits come from 30% of your customers. Although it’s not an 80/20 split it still adheres to Pareto’s Principle. Do you know if this is the case in your business? Do you know who these customers are? How do you categorise them? 

    Let’s say your customers break down into three categories: 10% are raving fans (who love you and buy regularly), 20% normal customers (who buy occasionally) and 70% prospects (that haven’t purchased yet). How do you allocate your resources to these three categories of customer? 

    Most businesses allocate 70% of their time and money to acquiring new customers (the prospects), 20% to their normal customers and 10% to their raving fans.

    When you look at your numbers you invariably realise that the bulk of your profits come from your raving fans. They are also the ones most likely to refer you to others. Acting on the Pareto numbers within the numbers can then help you to take action on staying closer to your raving fans and allocating your resources more efficiently towards them (For example: 70% to your fans, 20% to your customers and 10% to prospects). Understanding the 80/20 rule can take your business to new heights.

    Customer Numbers

    It’s important to know your customers well, how many you have, how may you lose each year and how many you gain. Which are the most profitable and who are your raving fans? What patterns do they share will help you figure out how best to please them and target others like them? How many prospects do you find each year and how many do you convert into customers? How likely is it that your customers will refer your business to others (a.k.a. Net Promoter Scores).

    All of this data falls into areas largely within your control. It’s useful to track, because it can help you take actions like invest in marketing or product development to reduce customer churn. It’ll also help you to pay close attention to those customers that are most important to your business.

    Numbers outside of your control can also help. 

    For example, how large is the total card market (currently £1.75 Billion at retail) and what is the size of your market share share? If there’s room to grow and the market’s growing then you might also decide to act by investing your resources accordingly.

    Products and Service

    You need to know which products are most profitable and which are most popular in your business.  It’s surprising how many business owners don’t know their best sellers. They even allow top products to run out of stock because they are enticed by the next shiny new thing. That’s like letting your plane run out of fuel when you are flying high. 

    How well do you service your customers? How fast do you turn around your orders? Do you track this each week? How successfully do you fulfil orders (are there shortages?) How many quality issues do you have each month? How many complaints? How many compliments? If you don’t track these numbers you will suffer over time as your disgruntled customers leave or complain about your business instead of referring it to others.

    With products, remember to cut your poor performers too. Stay well stocked on best sellers and clear slow moving stock quickly. Know your numbers and own those mistakes as soon as you can. 


    It’s obviously important to know your cost of sales, profit margins, overheads and turnover. It’s worth tracking sales orders received each month and sales invoiced (orders shipped) to see what’s ahead. 

    What’s most important though is tracking cash flow. Loss of profit will slowly cause your plane to descend over time. Not having enough cash in your business is like turning the engines off mid air. 

    You need a cash flow forecast that acts as your map and then it needs to be checked against what actually happens each month. The map is not the territory. Knowing your monthly overheads and seasonal variables will help with managing these numbers.

    Knowing financial data that is outside of your control is also useful. For example, high levels of inflation means that even as consumers spend more, they can afford fewer goods. When inflation is low we might see volumes of sales go up and the volumes may fall when inflation is high. Tracking the climate around you helps you stay grounded when times are tough.

    Employee Numbers

    How likely are your employees to recommend your business as a good place to work? How many days do you lose to absence? What’s productivity like within your company? How much do you spend on training and personal development with your team members? Who are the weakest links on your team? Are you helping them to improve or terminating their services so that you can replace them with a stronger member of your team? A team of inflight crew are only as strong as their weakest link. They all need to be aware of what the customers want (a safe and comfortable flight) and all work together to provide it.


    What about your suppliers? Who performs well and who doesn’t? Can you track their reliability and sales performance? Do you have good communication with them to highlight issues and praise them on good performance?

    If you use sales agents, tracking sales orders received and sales orders shipped is vital to avoid missing important customer orders and to make sure the market reality (sales) meets your expectations (targets).

    Numbers are only useful if you use them to inform your decision making and take action based on those decisions. If sales aren’t going well, you know the numbers and you don’t do something about it you will suffer even more later.

    Remember that you can’t cover every detail when making a decision. If you think about it you can never take enough data into consideration. So it’s important to decide on the key metrics that you need. What are the vital dials are on your dashboard? What information will cause you to crash if you don’t keep an eye on it and take appropriate action? Remember that you can only act on things that are within your control. We can steer the ship and adjust the sails, but we can’t control the weather.

    This is important to remember so that you can avoid anxiety about the numbers. A good pilot doesn’t stress about the dials and numbers before her. She stays calm and uses them to take action no matter the circumstances.

    How to Future Proof your Retail business

    The importance of Story for your Retail Brand

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