Bay Bashir, one of our seven expert retailer columnists, explains how networking with other retailers at trade events can have huge business benefits.

Every time I attend an event, like a trade show or the recent Independent Achievers Academy Study Day, I make sure I get one thing that I can take back to my business.

During the Study Day, we visited Siva Thievanayagan’s Nisa Local Fletton shop in Peterborough.

His store is bigger than mine, but when I saw his food to go I realised that I need to increase the space I dedicate to it in my stores.

He had advertising around it and it was really eye-catching. I thought that’s what I need to do too. 

From working with the IAA, I have identified food to go and my digital presence as key areas I need to work on.

I’m preparing to do a refit to go bigger on food to go. The first thing I’m going to do is take bags of fruit to the primary school near me and do a healthy eating day for all the pupils.

With digital, I’m benchmarking myself against the Singh’s Premier store in Sheffield. I’ve seen other retailers doing giveaways and I’m getting my son to help me with advertising and scheduling on Facebook.

As I’m the retailer ambassador for the IAA, I’m not able to take part in the awards, but I’m still benchmarking my store because it’s such a valuable tool.

This year, I’m getting my staff to do it. Now I’ve been doing it for five years I’m able to answer really honestly on what’s good and bad. It’ll be interesting to see if my staff think the same.

It will also show me what my staff prioritise and what they think is good about the shop, as well as show them that I’m keen to listen to them and take their views on board.

I think it’ll be really beneficial because we can then make improvements together.