wieland030706The definition of what defines a “convenience store” often depends on the outlook of the person asking the question. For a local retailer, stocking milk, bread and a few essential grocery items might be enough. For a major grocery supplier, 3,000 square feet of gleaming store, well laid out and merchandised is often a starting point.

I like how Nigel Mills, the managing director of convenience store business Mills, has it: “If most of your shoppers pick up a basket when they walk in, you have a convenience store,” he says.

So if your shoppers are picking up baskets, news that Waitrose is to open hundreds of c-stores around the UK may be a concern. It could target your shoppers. Marks & Spencer certainly fears it – M&S has unveiled advertisements showing that its “wise buys” are cheaper than Waitrose’s essentials.

But returning to your business, think about how this battle might affect your shoppers. There is no reason to be afraid of taking on the big shops, but you need to be aware of how they are framing their offer of “value” in the minds of shoppers.

M&S’s Sir Stuart Rose says shoppers are “fed up with being fed up” and “fed up with eating cheap, not very exciting food”. He says they are are looking for something new. Do you have it? It is worthwhile paying close attention to the mulptiles’ advertisements, to what your shoppers ask for, and to what your suppliers are suggesting as product ideas. Loyal customers picking up a basket are worth pampering.