How to compete with the supermarkets

The Better Retailing team finds out where retailers are finding their competitive edge against the multiples and how they are exploiting it to the fullest

How to compete with the supermarkets counter till

When confronted with the prospect of competition with behemoths like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Lidl, it can feel like an uphill struggle for retailers. With their larger buying power, established and well-known frontages and national advertising campaigns, the multiples seemingly hold all the cards in the competition with independent convenience retailers.

But there are a few aces that independent retailers have up their sleeve and it is important not only to be aware of these, but to harness and drive home these advantages at every opportunity. For some retailers, it can be as simple as the personal touch that customers get in a store where the staff know their name and are happy to have a bit of a chat at the counter.

“Our customer service, our rapport-building with customers and the community are what I think are our biggest edges over multiples,” says Bobby Singh, from BB Nevison Superstore in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. “We set the bar high and go that extra mile with the consistency of our customer service to give that more personal experience for shoppers, which makes everything more human and pleasant. We tailor our service for each customer because there are going to be a lot of customers who need help. We make sure that service and that consistency is there for all of them.”

But having local connections with customers can stretch further than knowing your customers and can instead allow you to offer a more premium option than your competitors. Alan Mannings, from Shop on the Green in Chartham, Kent, gets his eggs from a local supplier and highlights that connection to customers, driving up sales, and also his store’s reputation.

“They cost a bit more, but people are also looking at a decent egg from a local supplier compared to mass-farmed products. It’s completely different,” he says.

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