The impact of retail brands on their customer facing employees

Julia Marcet-Alonso, Business & Management, University of Liverpool (2019 Cohort)

Hi everyone! I’m Julia Marcet-Alonso, PhD student at the Management School of the University of Liverpool. I’ve just finished my second year and it has been a great adventure 😊

My research seeks to study the impact of retail brands on their customer facing employees. I am trying to listen to both sides of the story by analysing what companies say and what employees perceive and experience. This project is inspired by my previous experience working in fashion retail as a visual merchandiser.

This year I have been focusing on my data collection. For the first stage, I collected secondary data online on different digital platforms, including social media. Now, on the second stage, I am interviewing individuals that have worked in fashion retail as sales assistants. In pre-pandemic times, two companies were interested in taking part in the study. But, the impact of the restrictions in the retail sector, froze the conversations. So, I had to adapt and I used my network to get to individuals that could be happy to take part in my study. I posted an ad on my social media and sent it by email. Some people showed interest and some even shared it with their own network.

During the ethics application process, I reflected on multiple aspects: where would I do them, who would be included, and so on. My supervisors also suggested including a voucher for the participants. At that time, I remembered I could claim it through the Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). I found all the information on the NWSSDTP website. So, first, I asked Julie and Sarah (NWSSDTP) for authorisation, as this type of expense needs it. When I got it, I was offered the help of the finance team and I found it a very easy. Oh, don’t forget to attach the receipts to your claim, I always do…

I started the first set of interviews on Zoom and my confidence as a novice interviewer began to build up. Then, I received the feedback from my IPAP, where the panel suggested to increase the number of participants to strengthen the validity of my study. Aha, more changes 😊 So, this month, I will do another round of recruiting to look for more participants. Maybe there is someone in the audience that has worked in fashion retail 😉 If that’s you and you are happy to share your experience with me, do contact me on @j_marcet

Overall, it has been a great experience so far. Although, the pandemic and the restrictions impacted my original project, I have managed to adapt to the new times.

I hope you are all safe, happy research everyone!

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