In the final part of a three-part series, Joga Uppal shares the lessons he learned on a retail study tour in Coventry.

When I was given the chance to have Jai Singh, Avtar (Sid) Sidhu and Steve Denham visit our store I said yes immediately. My brother Aman and I are both relative newcomers to the role of managing a convenience store so any insights and guidance from more experienced retailers about our store is most welcome.

I gave Jai and Sid the full tour while Aman had a chat with Steve. Jai and Sid both operate under different fascias, Go Local Extra and Simply Fresh. The relationship they have with their key supplier is less proscribed than the One Stop franchise model. Our business traded under the Londis fascia for many years so we do know how symbol groups work, but it was definitely useful to hear about how other supplier relationships work.

There are three standout lessons that I have taken from meeting Jai and Sid in my store:

Engage with customers on social media

Jai is remarkably good at delivering valuable and high quality digital and social media campaigns. He has been one of the leaders in the independent convenience channel for many years and is always looking to find more effective ways to engage with his customers. What he told us about the big digital screen that he has in his store window has certainly helped Aman and I look at joining this digital revolution.

Action point: Two days after Jai and Sid’s visit to us, we were talking to a media screen supplier about placing one in our store. We are also looking at investing in an inexpensive digital screen to use as a Community Board and to highlight our promotional offers.

Maximise store space

One of the commitments that One Stop franchisees make is to have 95% of their store space planned and ranged by the One Stop team. This has led Aman and I to focus on maximising our 5% to use our retail skills to boost sales and profit beyond the company range. Sid told me that we need to push all our space, not just the 5% we control.

Action point: When Steve visited our store after the Local Shop Summit in October last year he talked about heat mapping the store so that we could understand which bays are working best for sales and profit and which need to be worked on. Sid’s advice has reminded me that we need to measure success and failure across the store and I am taking responsibility to do this!

Get to know other retailers

Having Jai and Sid in our store together gave each of us a terrific opportunity to share the stories of our individual retail lives. We all run family businesses with a single store. Jai operates his store with his wife Mandeep and Sid’s wife Sukhi takes a key part in managing their business. Talking with them about their families and location and how this impacts their individual business has given me a better insight in to my own.

Action point: Having hosted Jai and Sid on their visit to One Stop Mount Nod I am keen to make visits to MJS Go Local Extra in Wheeta Road, Sheffield. I will follow this with a trip later this month and then go to Sukhi’s Simply Fresh in Roseland Road, Kenilworth. Each of our stores are the result of major bricks and mortar investments over the past few years, and I’m very keen to understand we need to be planning to make a success of the next year in our store.

See more:

Part 1: The Coventry retail study tour: Steve Denham’s viewpoint
Part 2: The Coventry retail study tour: Jai Singh’s viewpoint