When Asda opened a new store with 24 hour trading a little over a mile away from my shop in in Sheffield, we felt an immediate fall in sales.
Prior to the opening, we had been growing turnover therefore this down turn in trade was particularly depressing. Multiples come with a known brand, a massive marketing budget and a vast store space. Asda also holds the reputation of being one of the cheapest supermarkets in the country.
With this in mind, we clearly needed to have a plan of action. Here is how we tackled the challenge.
Who are our competitors? In addition to the new Asda there is a Heron Foods, two Co-ops, two GT News, a Spar and other independents in our catchment area.
Does our store look welcoming? I took a critical look at our appearance from the street, including revisiting the way we manage our doorstep to ensure that we are always litter free. Moving inside, I asked the same question and again felt that we were doing the right things. The layout was good, the shop floor was kept clean and clutter free and the lighting is right for our type of store.
What are our prices like? As a Premier store, we implement all their four-weekly promotions and use the posters and shelf barkers that Booker provides. We also undertake long-term offers on key products where we bulk buy when the price is right. We knew this part of the business was still working because the promotional products did keep selling.
How are our staff performing? I talk to our staff everyday about what is happening in the store and their insights were helpful during this difficult period. We have an on-going training programme and I assess my employees’ performance on a quarterly basis. They were all doing everything we expected of them.
Is our range right? A report from our EPoS system showed our poorest-performing product hadn’t sold for nearly 200 days. A full investigation into our sales led us to a big clearance sale of over 100 lines.
To refill our range I took a leaf out of Asda’s own product plan and boosted our ‘own brand’ products. Booker have been building their own-label product range significantly in recent years and the new higher-margin product mix has worked well for us.
After all this, our profit and loss account for the year since Asda opened has revealed that while our sales were hit hard, our net profit has remained the same. Success!