Colton Footwear - an independent branded family footwear retailer in Berkhamsted and Chesham, Hertfordshire.
In 1952, Mr Charles Potter opened his shop at 264 High Street, Berkhamsted. In 1974 this business was taken over by his son Raymond, who traded at this location for a further 27 years before opening Colton Footwear at its current premises of 240 High Street, Berkhamsted. In 2003 Richard, a son of Raymond’s, took over the day to day running of Colton Footwear. In mid-2012 Colton Footwear went online with their website which allows customers to browse styles, brands and make purchases online. On 3rd August 2013, Colton Footwear opened a new store in Chesham. All at RTL would like to wish them every success with their new store! Now, let’s hear all about it from Richard Potter:How did the business get to where it is today?
My grandfather started selling shoes on a market stall, where my father helped out. From there my father opened a high street shop and ten years later I entered the business, taking over day to day operations.What ambitions do you have for your business?
To survive in this new age of internet sales and provide the local community with a service.How does your Retail System help you achieve your goals?
The stock control, till and reporting system are invaluable to our everyday operation. With reporting I can get good repeat sales and keep stock levels low. We have also recently embarked on a Shopify website, but it is still early days to report on this!
Your website is hosted by Shopify and fully integrates with RMS - how easy was it to get this up and running?
Getting the website up and running was a simple experience, most of the information data was already held in our “matrix” on our database. We then just had to add the pictures and make a few tweaks to make our webpage look professional. We had our website up and running in no time at all!
How does your website contribute to your goals?
Our website helps us showcase our products to our customers as well as allowing online transactions. We have found a number of our customers view the website before coming in store. I think an online presence is vital for trading these days.
With the recent expansion, this would have brought about additional Retail System needs, how did RTL deal with this process and would you recommend us to other retailers?
Having one shop already running smoothly, adding another shop was a relatively painless experience. The RTL support staff have vast amounts of experience when it comes to installing and configuring Microsoft Dynamics RMS and their RMS Add-ins. Most of the processes we had in place were replicated and this made it an easy transition from one to two stores. RTL are a great company to work with and I would recommend them every time!
Do you sell on any other platforms?
No - however I am aware that their are opportunities to trade on platforms such as Amazon, eBay etc and there are integration links that link your stock with the RMS database.
Which retail company do you admire most and why?
I admire a lot of retail companies as I know how hard it can be at times. Online you have to admire how Amazon have dominated a new marketplace and in the high street how Zara and Topshop get products so quickly to market. Although I probably admire the simple and effective Ikea! It is a shop that does what it does very well and has created really the only DIY furniture destination. It is always busy and you can never visit without buying something, usually tealights!
What is your favourite shop and why?
My favourite shop is Selfridges. I like the fact that you can buy everything from high street to high end goods. I like the history of the building and the way it still feels modern.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I am more of a night person, I would like to be more energetic in the morning and hit the gym before work!
Who have you learnt from most in your retail career?
I have learnt the most from my father who has tried to pass on his 50+ years experience in footwear retail.
What job would you have done if you hadn’t become a retailer?
I was working for British Telecom (data arm) before becoming a retailer. After completing a Media Production degree I had hoped to become a producer or director in TV or film!
What keeps you awake at night?
I’m quite relaxed, normally I find that everything can be done the next day. On the odd occasion when there are lots of things to do, or lack of staff I can worry but generally I try not to worry. If I am having a bad week I try to rationally understand why we have been quiet, normally everything works out in the end.
What advice would you give someone starting out in retail?
I think most people don’t realise how much capital it takes to run a business. You may have great ideas and be a great entrepreneur but you always need plenty of stock. If you can purchase the freehold then it takes away one of the variable costs.
What is the most satisfying part of running Colton Footwear?
When customers come in complimenting the store, the shoe selection and making a sale to them.