IAA #CommunityStars is a monthly interactive session that helps retailers learn from each other and overcome new challenges by offering insights and tools they can apply to improve their business.

This month’s session was led by Andrew Newton, of Nisa Local Halesowen in Dudley, West Midlands. Andrew has been operating under the Nisa fascia for 15 years, across three different sites, including the 1,600sq ft Nisa Local Halesowen, which has a vaping area, F’real machine and a recently launched sandwich bar, Colley Bites.

Andrew was recognised as the IAA Category Star for Marketing to Customers in 2019 for tailoring his offers and new products in store based on shoppers’ opinions, as well as regularly posting videos of new and interesting things in store to build a strong online community.

Here are four ways Andrew Newton has adapted to the coronavirus pandemic and introduced a simple, yet effective marketing strategy to create long-term loyalty.

Include your customers

“We have a lot of ideas, but I like to involve my customers in these ideas too. We’ve done it with everything from paninis to our ice cream and Tango Ice Blast machine,” he says.

Andrew will post a new idea on Facebook or ask customers what they want to see in store to create excitement, expand his reach and help customers feel their involved in the business.

“Most of the time, we’ve already thought of the idea that customers suggest, but on occasion they’ll ask for something we haven’t considered,” he says.

In the case of a customer requesting something new that Andrew or his team haven’t thought of, Andrew will offer them free stock or £10 money-off vouchers to spend in store.

“It’s a great way to interact with existing customers and drive footfall with new customers,” he says. “Existing customers will tell their friends if their idea is chosen, and it makes launching new products or services more successful.”

Don’t give up on previously tried ideas

“We always try new ideas and while some fail, there’re a few elements that do work,” says Andrew. “We’ll try it again a year or so later.”

For example, Andrew installed a Rollover hot dog machine before most retailers, but it wasn’t successful. However, he now offers the hot dogs as part of his delivery service and it’s become one of his bestselling products.

“Although it wasn’t successful in store initially, we reintroduced Rollover hot dogs to our delivery service, and has been quite popular. As a result we’re bringing it back into the shop. We’re trying to use our delivery services, which spans across Deliveroo and Just Eat, to help sales as well.”

Andrew says the current national lockdown has affected customers differently, which has pushed him and his team to think outside the box. For example, Andrew researched about partnering with Subway and other brands in store to increase his offering, but after talking with other suppliers, realised he would be able to achieve more by launching his own café bar, Colley Bites.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s quite exciting as well to try new things. Some ventures pay off, like our Colley Bites café bar and some don’t but everything seems to come full circle.”

Use social media effectively

“We’re creating a variety of posts on Facebook with an aim to reach a wider circle of customers. When someone new likes a post, this gives us the opportunity to invite them to the page,” Andrew says.

Andrew posts regularly on social media, including advertisements for his delivery services, in store service and posts that encourage engagement. Most recently, he posted about the highly-spoken about Weetabix and beans combo asking for shoppers opinions and a suggested trial price. Each of Andrew’s posts use emoji’s, informal language and images. 

Andrew also uses the platform to launch new products and services. “We launched pulled pork sandwiches in our café bar and advertised them on Facebook. In three weeks, we’ve sold 247 sandwiches at an RRP of £2.95.”

Waste and costs are key to think about when launching a new product, but this didn’t stop Andrew launching his own range of pulled-pork sandwiches or other lines. “Social media is vital to our success and we advertise them on Facebook ahead of the launch to build excitement and ensure the demand is there.

“I ask staff to share it on social media and get them to tell customers when they come in store. This helps us when we launch the product on our delivery apps, which drives sales and reduces waste too.”

Not everyone is on social media

Although many people use social media, there’s a small minority that don’t and it’s important to let them know what’s available, too. Andrew uses leaflets to keep his elderly customers informed.

“We delivered 10,000 leaflets to the local area to announce our delivery service, which gave a small increase in footfall and sales, but word of mouth is key.”

Andrew encourages his team to mention what’s new in store, as well as anything else that’s happened in the business. “Although we’re delivering a lot of leaflets, there’s a risk of shoppers not taking much notice.” Social media is the focus of Andrew’s marketing to strategy, however. “The more likes to the page you get, the higher the penetration you’ll get, which is great for new launches.”

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