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How many supermarkets ever have meetings as filled with passionate people sharing great ideas as those involving independent retailers? Last week’s Local Shop Summit at Lord’s Cricket Ground perfectly exemplified this.
RN journalists spend a lot of time discussing the manifold challenges facing local shops. The National Living Wage, Sunday trading, increasingly price-conscious customers – there are many pressures that could damage your business in the years to come. But here’s the thing: while retailers are as open with their ideas and willing to share their experiences as they were at the Local Shop Summit, the sector will be in a great position to adapt and thrive. With supermarket models so much more prescribed and store managers in their branches unable to shift quickly to local changes, it’s events such as the Local Shop Summit that ensure independents can maximise their advantages.
Differentiation: give people a reason to make your store a destination The need to stand out was at the heart of Sussex retailer Peter Lamb’s speech. His store offers indoor and outdoor seating areas to allow customers to play chess – a great way to keep them in his store longer. He advised others to offer products and services that supermarkets don’t, an approach that provides margins of around 40%. Radio and social media promotion was also, he said, key to his success.
11 Great things to learn from the UK’s best coffee shops With retailers increasingly viewing food to go and hot drinks machines as integral to the future of their businesses, catering consultant Chris Brown analysed what retailers could learn from current operators. From offering free wifi to running a dog wash-ing service, coffee shops are desperate to stand out. Coffee shop chains like Starbucks are learning from independent retailers too, Mr Brown said.
Meeting our future shoppers’ needs Horsham retailer Chris Shelley has seen convenience change dramatically in recent years and with it his customers’ expectations. Mr Shelley took the audience on a journey from operating his traditional CTN business to his recent move over to Budgens. Highlighting the passion that was shared among the retailers present, Mr Shelley explained the challenges he’d faced moving into a chilled-heavy model but said that the whole process, nonetheless, had been “great fun”.
Following our customers to the smartphone world In 2011, Yorkshire retailer Vrinder Singh’s customers were likely to visit the store’s website – at best – once a month, yet over the past four years the store’s online presence has been transformed and he credits this change for raising overall sales 15-20%. Mr Singh told retailers to keep social media offers “simple”, with prizes for customers such as cinema tickets helping to grow excitement.