People jump to conclusions often with little evidence to back up their decisions, Daniel Kahneman observes in his book Thinking Fast and Slow.
“For some of our most important beliefs we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold these beliefs,” he writes.
Independent retailers must bear this in mind as they read national newspapers. Expect to see all sorts of self-interested story-telling dressed up as truth. Some of this will damage your business.
For example, discount retailers are now in fashion. “The more consumers are led to focus on price, the more we benefit,” Roman Heini, joint managing director of Aldi UK, told the FT this week. Is it true? I don’t know. You have to make your mind up.
Worse. Greens newsagents in the heart of Mayfair has shut its doors. After nearly 20 years of buying his newspapers and magazines there, Tyler Brûlé, the FT’s Fast Lane columnist was forced to shop elsewhere.
“This small drama on Marylebone High Street represents just one example of a huge trend – what we might call ‘the other face’ of the UK high street crisis,” writes Brûlé. “The issue of essential independent stores being lost from many gentrifying neighbourhoods. Typically they are replaced with upscale outlets [that] offer little in the way of creating any sense of community.”
Newsagents are important, says Brûlé, who is also the publisher of Monocle, because they tend to offer shelf space to new publishing ventures that chains often avoid. While you may like his argument and call to landlords to be nice to independent retailers instead of seeking to increase the value of their buildings through deals with famous national chains, you will be better off getting your business model right.
Finally, the Guardian challenged shopper Juliet Stott (pictured above) to ditch Ocado and try out three alternatives: Lidl, Tesco and “local stores”. Lidl cost £137 for 126 items. Tesco £136 for 127 items. In each shop she opted for own label or Everyday Value items.
“Swapping to unknown brands and changing our buying habits saved us as much as 58% off our weekly shop, which was more than I expected,” she says.
The deals to be had by shopping around mean I will become a much more selective shopper, she says.
But what about in week three? “Shopping in my local market town just north of York was just as I had expected. It was expensive and time consuming. There were fewer own-brand products, which meant I had to pay more for leading brands or the privilege of shopping locally,” she said.
How much did she spend? £74.05. Why so low? Stott “purposefully restricted what I bought to keep the cost down”.
It is the worst experiment that you could ever see.
“The greengrocer-cum-deli was a gorgeous place but some items were almost double the price of supermarkets,” writes Stott. “A small brown loaf was £1.15. It may have been freshly baked and much better quality but it was half the size…” I can see the bias in this comparison.
Every day, you will face similar prejudice to some extent from many of the shoppers who use your shop.
On top of great systems and prices, your shop needs to tell a great story that shoppers can buy into. If you tell it right, they will believe you.