This busy residential store excels in turning small novel concepts into successful revenue streams that can transform the fortunes of a small-format shop.
The approach is driven by shop owner Vas Vekaria’s 10-year plan to sell the store, meaning a focus on maximising the attractiveness of the balance sheets while keeping costs under control. “My focus has been on smaller investments that deliver quicker returns than large refits,” he explains.
The latest example can be found prominently placed in the alcohol aisle. Vas says: “Since September we’ve sold £35,000 in ‘torps’ – two-litre refills for Heineken’s sub home beer tap machines. We’re one of the only shops in the UK selling them and people can pick them up cold and ready to use. Customers even travel from Oxford just to get them.”
The retailer also sells sub home draught beer machines near cost price at £100, driving customer loyalty through being the only destination for buying refills. He also sells the larger PerfectDraft machines at £200 that take six-litre mini-kegs. “Since 26 December, I’ve sold 14 of the larger machines alone,” he adds.
It’s not the first time the store owner has found success in a drinks concept. He tells Retail Express: “My slush videos on our Strongbow Dark Fruit, Palma Violet Gin & Lemonade and WKD Blue flavours were shot on a phone and have had more than eight million views.
“Even in the winter, people come in and ask for it. Because I serve it with a lid on it and it’s not consumed in the shop, it is fine to sell on an off-trade licence, and we can even do tasters in the shop for free.”
The shop also boasts the biggest children’s trends – American confectionery and soft drinks flavours, Fortnite merchandise and old-fashioned penny sweet bags. Asked about the secret to having relevant rangings for school children, he answers: “It is really simple. Listen to your kids.”
What unites all these and many more successful additions to his store, is a coherent social media strategy that runs throughout the shop and is even visible on the till, where a Facebook ‘likes’ counter ticks over whenever someone likes the store’s Facebook page. “It’s brilliant – we get people liking the page just to see the counter go up,” he says.
Evidence that the approach works can be found in Vas’s ‘Loser’s Lottery’ competition. He posts online that those who bring a losing lottery ticket from the last week into the store will be entered into a draw for £10 store credit, and announces the winners online. It receives 200 entries per week, providing a reliable sales boost. “It doesn’t even matter whether they bought the ticket here or not, it’s just a good way of driving footfall” he says.
With high tobacco sales, the shop owner works hard to find other ways to improve the overall store margin, through energy savings, using credit cards with cashback offers and also cashback loyalty cards.
He also uses non-traditional channels to source stock, such as online site Ali Baba.
He says: “I used to go to the cash and carry six days a week, but that just doesn’t happen
anymore – we look elsewhere.”
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