How to keep your shelves stocked: three retailers reveal their tricks of the trade

After the product shortages of the past year, the betterRetailing team finds out how retailers are managing to keep their shelves fully stocked in 2022

Shelves aisle shop generic
Nico Ali, Premier Scotch Estate, Jarrow, Tyne & Wear

“The cash and carries still haven’t got much stock – some of them are half empty. It’s certainly a struggle out there at the moment. But what you have to do is find a different product. You’ve got to get something else in otherwise your shelves will look empty. My main wholesaler is Booker, but if I can’t get something from there I’ll go to Bestway Wholesale or elsewhere.

“They’re still at 80% capacity on Walkers and there are no Space Raiders, so we’re trying to get hold of different kinds of crisps. If there aren’t any Space Raiders then I’ll go for something like Walkers Squares. It’s actually worked out really well. The new lines I’ve put in because I couldn’t stock our normal products are all selling really well.

“It’s about finding a different market to get products instead of having the shelves empty. It’s better to have anything there than nothing at all.”

Tariq Chishti, Netherlee Post & News, Glasgow

“We are an independent store, which affords us the luxury of buying from whomever we want. We work with half a dozen suppliers. It doesn’t take us any longer as we have some suppliers who deliver to us direct – we place the order on their app and it arrives. There are four or five others that I go to personally as and when I need to.

“There has to be a balance of availability and price. You need to look for sensible prices because some are going through the roof at the moment. This means there will be lines we drop in the future as customers will become increasingly price sensitive. Cost-of-living increases, inflation and rising energy prices will make people consider what their shopping basket looks like and they might choose a lesser-known brand. Take washing- up liquid. Do people really care about Fairy Liquid or will they be looking for cheaper own brands in future?”

Bobby Singh, BB Nevison Superstore, Pontefract, West Yorkshire

“Since the pandemic, we’ve been stocking our storerooms to the brim and trying to be ahead of the game. What I’ve found now is things haven’t relaxed. There are still products that are hard to get, but hopefully we’re going to get back to normal with stock keeping and cashflow.

“Now, however, you’re also expecting things to be missing from the cash and carry. The mindset has changed and you always have that fear of whether the next delivery will actually come. You need to be organised when you’re ordering stock to be delivered.

“Make sure everything is covered and you have a good stock-taking structure and system in place. There’s nothing wrong with a trip to the cash and carry, but it shouldn’t be a necessity. If you have a good stock-taking system for ordering products, then you should have to make fewer trips to the cash and carry.”

Read more advice for independent convenience retailers


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