Availability – Academy in Action 2017 with JTI

The IAA’s Helena Drakakis joined JTI’s Kieran Marsh and retailer Vin Patel to help identify improvements to stock availability.

The factshouse

  • Name: Vin Patel
  • Shop: Wady & Brett
  • Location: Charing, Kent
  • Size: 920sq ft
  • Staff: 4 full-time, 9 part-time or casual

The IAA’s Helena Drakakis joined JTI’s Kieran Marsh and retailer Vin Patel to help identify improvements to stock availability.

Vin’s Challenge:

Vin struggles sometimes with availability, especially around occasions and changes in the weather. He needs advice on creating better planning and monitoring processes.

Vin says:

“Food-to-go is an area that we really want to build on, but better judgment on how much stock to buy in, and when,is crucial especially with short-dated products. I take notes of seasonal and local events, but as I plan to expand the section I want the right balance between availability and minimum wastage. When you’re proud of your shop it’s easy to overlook issues or opportunities because you’re here every day. It’s great to have the IAA & JTI to come and have a look at the shop as it’s a chance to have a fresh perspective and ideas about how to improve and be even better.”

IAA advice:

1. Monitor events and the weather so you have the items you need in time

Vin relies on his EPoS system to generate orders through his symbol group and the other suppliers he works with, however he sometimes finds himself running out of food-to-go items at key periods. “For example, as the Easter weather turned warmer my French baguette sales exceeded expectations,” he says. Vin has started making notes around weather related sales spikes, but Kieran suggests he makes his data work harder for him. “Combine notetaking, experience and knowledge with analysing EPoS data over a period of time to establish patterns and to extract key learnings.”

Action: Analyse EPoS data to predict when certain products will be in high
demand and avoid going out of stock

2. Set availability targets and monitor success

Currently Vin relies on his staff to observe gaps in stock on the shelves and to scan out-of-stock items with hand-held terminals. However, this is ad-hoc whenever staff have the free time. Kieran suggests that Vin considers investing in an EPoS system whereby all stock is scanned on delivery and the system automatically flags when stock is running low, so checking is not left to chance. “Creating an availability target will give you and your staff a goal to work towards. A formalised process of manual gap checking will also focus minds on availability at certain times of
the day,” he says.

Action: Create an availability target and formalise processes to check out-of-stocks

3. Persistently follow up with suppliers to get items you need

Vin has recently experienced a problem with early warning issues over availability at a key selling period. “My flower delivery was short over Easter, and it was communicated too late for me to call in a back-up supplier,” he explains “had I known earlier I could have arranged something with a local flower wholesaler to make up for this.” Kieran encourages ongoing communication through Londis’s customer service channel. “It is best to alert suppliers and sales reps to any ongoing issues,” he adds. There may also be a retailer forum he can join, so he can positively influence availability issues.

Action: Talk to your symbol group about availability issues to find
the best way to work together

Partner advice:

“Vin is clearly a good business man, he is knowledgeable about the market and is relatively well stocked. The IAA is about him getting even better. Vin currently relies on staff to check out-of-stocks, but this could be improved.

“Instead of relying solely on human observation, he should use the information on his EPoS system to build up a picture over time of what is selling well and when. Vin will never be able to predict the future exactly, but it’s about getting as close as he can.”

Kieran Marsh, Customer Marketing Manager, JTI

pencilYour action plan:

  • Go to betterretailing.com/IAA to download the free tools to improve your shop
  • Call 020 7689 0600 (Option 3) to find out how you can take part in a future visit from one of our partners
  • To benchmark your shop, download your free digital copy of the IAA’s Retail Profit Guide.

Our retail toolkit is packed with useful tools and resources to help you grow your sales and profits, including the Retail Profit Guide.


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