Retailers attending the Local Shop Summit last month were challenged to take away three action points to improve their businesses.

Unlike other trade events, #LSS16 gathers 140 top retailers together and lets them loose on setting the collective agenda.

But the purpose of the agenda is not to commission a third party to do some work. Rather it is to pick and choose from this agenda the useful retail ideas that will move their own businesses forward. Energising the current and future stars of independent convenience retail is how the Summit does this.

But back to the three action point challenge. When I hosted the end of day wrap-up, where journalists reported back on the six major sessions they had chaired, it was hard to keep the number down to fewer than 30.

The secret to dealing with a large to-do list is to sort the important from the urgent and work on the former.

Unlike other trade events, #LSS16 gathers 140 top retailers and lets them loose on setting the collective agenda

The mix of retailers in the room also meant that the three action point challenge presented itself in different ways. For some, the idea of taking any action point back to their shop was a new thing. People work in different ways, but everyone benefits from writing down what they are going to do and putting a deadline on doing it.

For the other camp, who needed to edit their actions down to three, the Summit was about listening to the right consensus view for their store. For example, in the session on tobacco sales, retailers discussed two important things.

Firstly, the impact of pricing within local markets. One retailer said his store achieved a 20% margin on tobacco by being open 24 hours a day in a high-footfall area. Shoppers’ pricing perceptions change at 3am. But the opinion shared by many retailers, is that if all independents put their prices up the only winners will be multiples.

Secondly, retailers debated the smoker’s perception of the changes being imposed by Government. The scattergun nature of the move to plain packs meant smokers could find new packs in one shop and the old they liked in another, and  blamed the retailer.

With 10s disappearing from the market, independents said their “brand” was being hurt in a way that could only help the supermarkets – not to mention the “lad” down the road selling £5 Marlboro.

How you position yourself is important. Steve Denham, the retail expert from, said customers may not notice your store’s new look. His experience was they paid attention to what they came to the store to buy. If you are just selling products, beware.

Markus Hofmann explains how independent convenience retailers can tap into their customers.

Markus Hofmann, founder of Shell’s deli2go concept, said retailers need to pay attention to the emotional needs of shoppers. A photo of a sad dog above your petfood will increase sales, he promised. If you sell food to go, you need great pictures of food you actually sell.

The future is about managing the experience for shoppers, being ready for people looking for a healthy meal or a quick breakfast. Or being able to tell shoppers which field the milk in your store came from. It is about making your shop a destination.

And the third keynote speaker Adam Hogwood demonstrated how retailers need to pay attention to detail. Analysis of his store to see how it could afford the living wage found that one bakery job was actually just a collection of tasks that other staff could easily do. This may be a one-off saving, but the point is you need to do your homework.

The biggest takeaway is that local retailers in the right location and armed with good business plans have a brilliant opportunity moving forward. Will you take it?

View the video from the day.