This year's Independent Achievers Academy Retail Study Day was held in Manchester and I was fortunate to meet Vince Malone at the city's Piccadilly railway station.
He said that he had arrived quite early and taken a wander around the stores in and near the station. He said that he had been to a new Simply Fresh store in Piccadilly Place – twice. The first time he said he didn't get it, but after looking at the Sainsbury's Local in the station he understood what the Simply Fresh was doing.
I went into the Sainsbury's store, which offers a range that is targeted at travellers with a great display of bakery and food to go. The Simply Fresh store does have a convenience range, but its key offer is food now, with a barista-manned coffee counter and a deli. Its location explains the offer – Piccadilly Place is full of offices and the store has been designed for the people who work there.
Meanwhile, Mital Morar’s Ancoats General Store, which was the subject of the Retail Study Day, offers a full convenience range that covers the needs of the customers that live and work around the store. Mital said his customers and what they want to buy changes throughout the day and evening.
We saw builders, along with other workers, looking for something to eat and drink. We were told that in the evening when the local residents return home, the shoppers' basket mix changes, but the daily staple like milk and bread remain in demand all day.
At the front of store is a café area with well-trained baristas manning the coffee bar. Along with the retailers and suppliers on the Retail Study Day I experienced a display of coffee-making at its best, with the addition of some surprise to. I would never have expected to like Golden Milk, a hot milk drink with turmeric and a grind of black pepper. The shop's café includes several tables that means some of the customers linger in store for longer and spend more as a result.
What all three stores I visited in Manchester are doing is maximising the opportunities their location offers. For Sainsbury's Local, its focus is on rail travellers; the Simply Fresh is focused on office workers; and for Ancoats General Store, it’s the people who live and work around this rapidly changing part of Manchester.
What are you doing to match your store range with the potential customers you have in your location?
Read more: Five lessons from the IAA Retail Study Day.