Will the new Mercato Metropolitano give Borough Market a run for its money?


Here at Whippet we’re pretty obsessed with food. From new restaurant openings to the latest flavour of M&Ms we want to know about it, experience it and taste it. So a new market opening in London just a mile away from much-loved Borough Market, was an opportunity not to be missed.

Located in Borough Triangle, just up from Elephant and Castle, Mercato Metropolitano opened in an old paper factory earlier this year. Andrea Rasca is the man behind the project, who has previously played a key role in developing the brilliant chain of Eataly stores which started in Turin in 2007.

On arrival, first impressions are good. Bold graphics and clear branding set a simple and straightforward tone. This continues with the ‘no-frills’ feel in the main area. Almost reminiscent of a Scandinavian Christmas market, the recycled wooden structures and blackboard style comms help to further suggest values of craftsmanship, artisan food and urban renewal. The market is based in an area undergoing a £3 billion regeneration so the chosen materials feel very appropriate and reflective of an underlying social purpose.mm2

We were excited by therange of food available. Billed as including ‘the best pizza maker’ from Naples, the producers definitely have an Italian bias but also contain award-winning British food retailers. Fortunately we arrived just before lunch so it seemed timely to try some of the goodies available. We were spoilt for choice and did a full circuit before settling on some fresh gnocchi, a glass of Italian champagne and a fab beer called Brettxit!

Then came Prezzemolo e vitale – the independent family-run supermarket from Palermo. This is 4,000 square feet of true foodie heaven. The daily deliveries of fresh food cover everything you’d expect from a small Italian grocer including cheese, wine, beer, meats, veggies and fish. It feels brilliantly authentic with fixtures and fittings that look individually sourced and assembled combined with handwritten pricing on deli-style tickets. Whilst it’s hard to believe you would do your weekly shop here you can buy pretty much anything from arancini to zucchini, and we were very tempted!mm3

So in summary, Mercato Metropolitano definitely gets the Whippet thumbs up. And with it’s cookery school, in-house cinema, vegetable garden and gym, it’s much more than just a food market. It’s definitely also a great offering for locals as opposed to it’s more tourist-focussed cousin, Borough Market, a mile up the road.

It has to be said that it’ll be interesting to see how it fares in the British Winter. We visited on the hottest day of the year when everyone was making great use of both the inside and outside space, but we suspect we wouldn’t be so keen crouching on one of the wooden benches while the wind blows through the big openings in the main hall in January. However, we applaud Signor Rasca and the team and wish them luck. We’ll be watching this space with mouth-watering curiosity.



Sean Dwyer

Will Ikea’s new small format, shopping centre store have urbanites flocking?


When we heard that Ikea was opening a new format store at Westfield Stratford City we couldn’t wait to head over and take a look. We were intrigued. It felt like the obvious direction for Ikea when opening a shopping centre format would be a Marketplace version of the current warehouse offering – cue mind’s eye visual of endless aisles of spoons, lamps and Swedish chocolate. So the knowledge that the new store only offers about 40 small products to buy that day got us scratching our heads.

It’s not a familiar approach – no vast blue and yellow big box city here, rather, a sleek, modern entrance with huge windows and a clear sightline into store. This enables a glimpse of the impressive vertically stacked roomsets which add theatre and entice you through the door.

Billed as an ‘Order and Collection Point’, the 900m2 store clearly offers exactly this. But it’s so much more than the functional title suggests. Whilst the order and collection points are clearly marked, it’s also a space to gain inspiration, seek advice and help planning – somewhere to create your perfect, bespoke, dream home.


The store cleverly uses the full ceiling height for merchandising. This serves several purposes, creating visual theatre, suggesting breadth of range and also inspiring customers that the sky really is the limit.

Staff were on hand and appeared very helpful and supportive. It’s also possible to access the full range via the ‘discover more’ screens, and the ubiquitous catalogues are available to take home as usual.

All in all it feels like a great space to browse, design and dream. We have to admit that we rethought our initial doubts around the proposition and quite liked the focus on planning and ordering. It’s definitely a different approach to the familiar Ikea showroom procession where you feel desperate to get through the roomsets to the Marketplace and grab the bits and bobs you didn’t know you needed before having a hotdog.

We will be watching this (much, much smaller) space.



Sean Dwyer

Is the humble Call to Action losing its way?


Here in retail we love a call to action, (or a ‘CTA’ to those of us who also love an acronym). That little line in a piece of customer communication that prompts the customer into doing something. ‘Go online to order’, ‘Ask for more information’, it’s a familiar construct. The goal should be to provoke an immediate response, to leave the customer in no doubt as to what to do next. But are we in danger of becoming so CTA obsessed they’re losing their impact?

All too often CTAs – in the store environment at least – are not thought through, leaving the customer more confused than clear about how they need to act. Or worse, apathetic. And while a series of small CTAs can be an incredibly useful method to help the customer narrow down their choice to a final decision, (‘choose your colour’, ‘choose your size’, ‘now order at the till’), it seems that sometimes they’re mindlessly trotted out to tick a copywriter’s checklist than to be of any real use.

So here are five quick tips for copywriters, marketers and indeed anyone writing customer comms, on the art of an effective in-store CTA.

1) Be single-minded

Customers don’t want to jump through hoops, so don’t give them so many options they’re left flummoxed by choice. A common example is something that reads along the lines of:
‘Pick up a leaflet, talk to a colleague or go online at xx.com for more details’.
Be clear about the one best way for them to follow up.

2) Keep them informal

This is as much to do with tone of voice as it is the call to action itself, but ‘We’ve got plenty more colours, just ask’ feels so much more human than, ‘Please ask a member of staff if you want to browse our fuller range of colours’.

3) No need to state the obvious

‘Please take a leaflet’. So polite. So blindingly apparent. So patronising? If it’s right there, the customer will see it. And if they’re interested, they’ll pick it up.

4) Use shortlinks to direct online

‘Find more details online at www.bestbank.com/help-and-support/your-acccount/manage-your-account/1032’
The customer’s hardly going to whip out a notebook and write it down for later, so use a shortlink – they’re easy to create. And while we’re on the subject, nowadays it’s perfectly okay to lose the www.

5) Prompt but don’t boss

‘Buy now’ or worse ‘BUY NOW!’
You don’t usually get anywhere by barking orders. Instead, give the customer a great in-store experience with helpful communications that leave the choice up to them.

So there we are. Five easy tips… and one final CTA: check out more of our thoughts here on our blog.



Sean Dwyer

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