One of the things we do best at Retail Newsagent is unearthing exciting industry experts bursting with ideas to use in your business.

One of our best contacts, shopper guru Phillip Adcock, returns this week as RN’s spy for a fifth visit, this time uncovering the strengths and weaknesses of six multiple c-stores.

He bounded through the door of RN’s office two weeks ago after a day of sleuthing with features editor Tom GK with lots of advice and reasons to feel positive. Four stores they visited were on the same road, but could compete by specialising on different areas – fruit & veg, bakery, promotions and food to go – showing that it is possible to thrive near a major competitor.

They do lots well – like having a great entrance that invites your customers to spend – and lots badly. Several of the stores were laid out like mini versions of their supermarkets and none did convenience especially well, typified by the number of unwieldy multibuy deals on the day. Two four pint milk cartons for £2 isn’t convenient, he suggests. But ‘buy milk and get orange juice half price’ shows that you understand your customers’ requirements.

A major benefit of being your own boss is the ability to act quickly when you spot an opportunity and this issue is packed full of them

One store manager approached our spy team and admitted his business doesn’t ‘get’ convenience. He had been trying to push through a meal deal for more than a year, he said.

A major benefit of being your own boss is the ability to act quickly when you spot an opportunity and this issue is packed full of them.

One of my favourites from the issue is the suggestion to run the numbers on day-part merchandising. It might sound like hard work, but if you can get a £200 uplift from an hour’s work, it’s money well spent.

Don’t miss RN’s full investigation in this week’s issue (13 February)