Many independent neighbourhood retailers’ core business is their regular customers, who are made to feel valued. These customers might also be the key to your success – by talking to your customers on a regular basis (and employing people who are enthusiastic and friendly), you can discover what they really want from your store.

Jai Singh recently told me that he gained a significant insight about the customers who use MJ’s Go Local Extra. A customer told him the range of meat that he was stocking sourced from a butcher was very good, but too dear to buy every day. Jai discovered that the excellent range he was stocking was priced above the limits of their household budget. His response was to find an additional supplier that would mean that he could offer a range that fits with what his customer told him.

Paul Mather is another retailer who listens to his customers. As the village retailer in Sherston, Wiltshire he knows that all his customers can get into their cars and drive to Waitrose in Malmesbury to do their shopping. He and his wife Gail need to offer something unique. He told me that when customers ask for local suppliers, he can order a single pack for them.

Christine Hope told me one of the unique things about being local is, “My team and I know the majority of our customers. Much of the year we will know as many as 95% of the people that come to the store. I know where they live, who they are married to, how many children they have and where they work.”

Each of these neighbourhood retailers are always talking with their customers and they gain valuable insights into how they can improve each of their stores.

How do you discover how your customers can help you improve your business and bring customers coming back to you more often?