Linda has been managing Suresh Patel’s ‘Springfield’s’ store in Leeds for just over a year and in that time the shop has changed beyond recognition.  Effective ranging of her products is one of the key sales drivers behind the business, and with that in mind, Linda is keen to focus more on this area.  Using planograms adapted to the needs of your store and listening to what shoppers want are all key factors in building customer loyalty and increasing profits.  We visited Linda with Mark Gratton, Sales Manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises, to talk about what they are doing well and where they can improve even further.

1.Ensure your range is made up of 80% best-selling products and 20% new lines
Linda explains that by using common sense and keeping a close eye on sales, she has dedicated the majority of shelf space to her best-selling products. “We have all the household names that you might expect to be bestsellers making up the majority of our ranges, and then we are constantly monitoring new lines. We try out everything while it’s on offer at the wholesaler and then keep what sells well,” says Linda.

Springfield’s chiller cabinet, home to the majority of their soft drinks, includes a lot of products that aren’t new to the market or national best-sellers, but are popular in the area. Mark recommended using data from Neilson and EPoS to understand exactly how popular these products are and adjust the stock levels accordingly.

2.    Multiface your best sellers in all categories
Mark is impressed with Linda’s chiller cabinet, which is well merchandised with a variety of drinks grouped together in clear categories, alongside her sandwiches. To make the most of this clever use of upselling, Mark suggests merchandising vertically instead of horizontally to make it easier for customers to see what is on offer and increase the facings of the national best-sellers to sign-post the category. “Customers will come in looking for the best-selling drinks, like Coke and Fanta, so make sure they’re easily accessible at all times,” says Mark.

3.    Identify your best sellers then build the best range for your specific customer base
Although the shop does use EPoS to monitor sales, Linda finds that the majority of her stock decisions are based on customer feedback and observation. “Some of our customers are looking for items that aren’t obviously going to sell well, such as evaporated milk. Because we’ve got to know our customers well, we are able to work out what is worth including in our range. We have a gentleman that buys eight cartons of the evaporated milk a week, and as none of the other local stores stock it he comes here for all his shopping.”

Springfield’s is able to be extremely flexible in their ranging and satisfy a diverse customer base by stocking the minimum necessary of each product and having twice weekly deliveries from Batley’s. This way the range can be constantly adjusted according to what is – and isn’t – doing well.  Mark is impressed by way Linda has placed snacks that haven’t been popular recently alongside the ambient drinks, utilising the ‘big night in’ trend in order to increase sales. He says that this can be even more effective by using professional shelf labels and arranging the space to mirror the chilled section, helping it to stand out further and encouraging customers to pick up their evening snacks in one go.

4.    Keep abreast of the latest products and current consumer trends
Linda always makes space for new lines and reviews their performance regularly. “We stocked a low-calorie Ribena when it was first launched which did well for a while, but when sales waned we looked at what else was on offer and are now trying Ribena Sparkling,” explains Linda.
Mark agreed that being willing to try new lines is important, as new local best sellers can be discovered that way.
Most recently, Linda has increased her range of chilled white wine after seeing a notable rise in demand for it in the recent warm weather. “The other shops around here either don’t sell alcohol or have a poor selection of chilled wine, so by increasing our range we’ve increased footfall,” she explained.

Tips of the day

Maintain a tidy and organised stock room so that you know exactly what range of products you have in store, and are less likely to have to sell dated or unpopular items at a discounted rate.

Ensure that offers advertised on shelves are available and highly visible – both in the chilled cabinet and at the end of aisles where they can be seen from the doors.

When multifacing items use EPoS data to ensure each item is allocated the correct proportion of space.