Seasonal needs

Knowing what your customers want and understanding their needs is fundamental to driving sales. And so retailers must be able to identify the different occasions their consumers are shopping for, and then tailor their range to match them.

Chairing the panel for Getting the Occasion Right at this year’s Local Shop Summit was editor of insight at Newtrade, Chris Dillon, and the one of the main topics of discussion centred on how retailers could explore new occasions and drive profit through them, alongside utilising the personal relationships they had with their customers to learn what they were looking for.

Jemma Healy, commercial activation controller at Lucozade Ribena Suntory, said she thought there was no more “true data insight” than getting direct feedback from customers. Talking of new products, she advised: “One way to work out customer demand is to post images on social media and gauge the popularity based on how people respond.”

Retailer Amit Putambekar of Ash’s Shop in Fenstaton, Cambridgeshire, agreed with this, explaining that he spent on average 30 minutes to two hours talking to his customers a day to find out what they needed.

“I started to stock a gluten-free pesto for one of my customers after starting to build a relationship with her and finding out she had certain dietary needs. The human element champions data in some instances.” 

Top-up shopping

With top-up shops being the one of the most important occasions why a consumers might visit a store, Ian Handley, of Handley’s Go Local in Cheshire, said he regularly updated his fixtures to match breakfast, lunch and dinner times, with personal interaction again being the main focus.

“Getting to know your customers shouldn’t be a scientific thing, but something that is built up over time – especially when you’re focused on local needs. This way, you can build trust by having genuine conversations with your customers to find out what they’re looking for.”

Conversation then took a turn to examining how retailers could adapt ranges based on the area they were situated in.

Jodi Pritchard, of Londis Oaktree Road in Southampton, said this year she planned to adapt her lunchtime range to cater to the school near her, adding to her current ‘burger Wednesday’ offer.

“We have a school near us and we need to think more about appalling to these customers. We want customer feedback from the sixth formers to work out what the canteen doesn’t offer.”

While catering for traditional occasions remains important, it’s also about branching out.

Dia De Los Muertos

Julian Taylor-Green, of Taylor-Green’s Spar in Hampshire, said he had been experimenting with festivals such as Dia De Los Muertos. However, there was more support needed around occasions such as these, which to the convenience channel in the UK are relatively new.

This was echoed by audience member Amrit Singh, who mentioned he had been doing more around sporting occasions such as boxing matches, putting together bundle deals in anticipation, but again, help was needed when it came to in-store theatre and PoS.

“Retailers should look to capitalise on ‘payday’ occasions, ‘Thank god it’s Friday’ occasions and boxing ‘fight night’ promotions,” Singh added.

In-store theatre, such as what Singh touched on, explained Healy, was critical in distracting people to fixtures, and there has been a revival in the independent channel for local products – something retailers should be championing.

“There is an opportunity in this where retailers should be looking to recreate experiences in store and then advertise it on social media.”

Healy rounded up the conversation by outlining that if retailers were going to take away one thing today, it should be to go back to their stores and take advantage of the fact they can build better personal relationships with their consumers compared to the multiples, and then use that to ask what they want to see in store.