How important is Innovation to your business and why?
If you don’t have it you can’t sell it, and if you can’t sell it you can’t make any money. It’s as simple as that.
What three things have you done in the last 12 months that set you apart in Innovation?
- I try to identify products which I think I will have a problem sourcing and bulk-buy them. A while ago I had an issue getting hold of Calpol, for example. I realised there was a problem early on, bulk-bought it and became the only store within 10 miles which stocked it.
- Every week we do a gap check as well as checking all our stock is in date. We’ve also been bulk-buying the top five products which have sold in a category in the past month.
- Every 13 weeks we print off the top 100 products in the store and make sure we are well stocked on those. It gives me a good idea of the whole picture of how my store is performing.
What’s the biggest trend or challenge you’ve adapted to in the last 12 months?
Vaping started off small for me and then grew and grew to the point where availability of different flavours can be a real issue. We now carry seven weeks of stock in vape – before it was more like two. It can be difficult in terms of cashflow – I was in one store yesterday and we must have £50,000 of vape sitting in there – but the margins are lucrative.
What’s the biggest and best change you’ve made in your business in the last 12 months and why?
We have introduced the ‘top 5’ weekly checks on availability and the 13-week ‘top 100’ checks. You’re never going to get everything right with availability but this really helps.
What have you done to retain shoppers in the last 12 months?
Pet food has had real shortages and bulk-buying is my strategy. Normally everything comes through One Stop but when they don’t have the availability I have been buying certain lines at a loss to keep them in stock. Getting things at the right price is a challenge – people have been putting prices up and that’s wrong.
Who would you recommend retailers to turn to if they’re looking to improve Availability?
Your EPoS is where the knowledge is – you have to learn how to read it.