This week Moyra Race takes us through her 30+ year journey as a Travel Retail Buyer.
Moyra shares her personal philosophy, tips on how to elevate your business with the buyer’s perspective and talks through the 3 biggest challenges she has faced as a buyer in Travel Retail. Keep reading to find out more!
“For Buyers it’s all about balancing “The Risk”. Risk is important to any retail business to keep customers interested and in order to constantly evolve. However, it has to be a calculated one. This fine line has become even more difficult over the years as safe buying is a consistent model.
Buyer’s have to be sharper about knowing what other tools they have at their disposal to create a mutually acceptable deal, protecting their business and that of the supplier. It shouldn’t always just be about margins.”
Jenny: Hi Moyra thanks for taking the time to chat to us today, can you introduce yourself to the community and share some background into how, and why you became involved with TR Buying?
Moyra: Hi Jenny, thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my passion.
Since my University days I’ve always been interested in consumers, what they desire and how they purchase. I started my buying career with J Sainsburys many years ago, learning the skills from the bottom up. When I was presented with an opportunity to buy fashion and accessories for a TR company, (Allders International) I jumped at the chance, it seemed the glamorous option!
I can safely say that over 30 years in this industry it has never stood still! I’ve travelled extensively and met some amazing people and brands.
I have been fortunate enough to buy many different categories over time: From wine, fast-moving consumer goods to many years of negotiating with the worlds’ most luxurious brands, such as Bvlgari and Hermes.
The most important thing for me is that I have a passion for product, it is really essential to feel that connection.
Just over two years ago I set up my own Consulting Business with the aim to not only coach Buyers (there are very few Buyer training courses where experience is the driving force, yet many sales based ones) but also to challenge brands and companies to recognize their USP’s and look at their business through the eyes of the buyer. Understanding the Buyers Mindset is so important in a tough selling environment.
Jenny: What are the top 3 biggest changes and challenges you’ve experienced in the buying industry in the last number of years?
Moyra: One: It’s all about balancing “The Risk”. Risk is important to any retail business to keep customers interested and in order to constantly evolve the business, however, it has to be a calculated one. This fine line has become even more difficult over the years as safe buying is a consistent model. Buyer’s have to be sharper about knowing what other tools they have at their disposal to create a mutually acceptable deal, protecting their business and that of the supplier. It shouldn’t always just be about margins.
Two: I was in TR during the period of Abolition of Duty Free (1991) and this presented a huge opportunity for non-core categories to expand and develop in increased space. However, I believe the biggest change will be the one we face for the future of TR post Covid19. The changes and what they may mean to the various categories are yet to fully unfold.
Three: For many Buyers in TR the evolution of computers and technology could actually be considered a negative challenge to their creativity, as the control of data entry, the ease of emails and fast paced response expectations have restricted time to research and develop the business.
Jenny: What’s your personal philosophy when it comes to Buying? What is one thing you remind yourself when approaching your role as a Buyer?
Moyra: It’s very clear to me, to be a successful Buyer, you have to be passionate about what you do. I always remind myself that its not about what I like personally, but what is commercial and what the customer wants, there can sometimes be a big difference and it is important to make that distinction.
I am also a strong believer in being honest, delivering your opinion in a constructive manner and having respect for others.
Jenny: What is your favourite thing about working within the travel industry?
Moyra: The diversity – and the pace! Compared to the domestic market is it always evolving, with (until recently) guaranteed footfall, multi-national customers and a cross sections of socio-economic groups it is a perfect environment for a creative Buyer.
Oh and of course – the people – it’s a great, small but very supportive community.
Jenny: What key learnings have you taken from this experience?
Moyra: I have run several Webinars and coaching sessions though Zoom, something I had never explored before and I am also writing some online courses so watch this space 😊
Jenny: Who is your biggest inspiration (it can be a person, organisation or brand) in the industry and why?
If I may I’d like to twist the question and open it to the Retail industry – I am great follower of Mary Portis, I love her fresh, direct approach to retail and how she is prepared to challenge the status quo.
I am also a huge fan of Selfridges, right back to Harry Selfridge, who was prepared to take some serious risks and change the face and future of retail, we need someone like him today!
The brand which I have huge admiration for is Hermes, they are unwavering in their direction, constant and strong and never compromise their quality in pursuit of sales. A first class luxury brand.
Jenny: If you had pass on a piece of advice to someone who is new to Buying would it be and why?
Follow your instincts, be prepared to take some risks, own up and learn from mistakes and never forget your customer.
Thanks for chatting to us Moyra, we’re really glad to have you here as part of our community. You can find out more about Moyra and her work as Buying Consultant by visiting her website or dropping her a message here on GTR Community. Make sure to share your biggest inspiration (person or brand) with Moyra down below!