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Effective ranging is key if you want to stay on top of bestsellers and trends to cater for your customers’ tastes and lifestyles. The IAA’s Sarah Parsons joined Coca-Cola Enterprise’s John Harvey at Roger Dillon's store in Sunderland to discuss the best tactics.
Roger has serious competition with other small stores in his area. In an attempt to get his share of sales, he stocks too many ranges, which is confusing for customers.
1. Offer the current top sellers in the key categories and a range of price points
John notices that Roger has an extensive range of soft drinks and says it is good that he has taken regional tastes into consideration, but this means he offers too much choice. “It’s over-ranged and could be confusing for customers. I recommend Roger streamlines the products to make best-sellers stand out,” he says.
Roger mainly uses pricemarked products to earn customers’ trust and offers competitive promotions, but they are on a mixture of hand-written and typed labels, which John says could also be confusing.
He suggests that Roger makes the labels uniform to enforce his own store brand and keep the store looking slick, maintaining a focus on price. “It’s great that Roger has some really good offers, but the different colours and fonts could make the customers second guess the promotions. They might ask if they’re genuine,” says John.
2. Keep good product adjacency so customers are encouraged to buy all they need from you
Roger admits that he doesn’t have a lot of lunchtime trade, but says alcohol is his bestseller.
While walking through the store John notes that Roger does offer product adjacency in some ranges, such as tomato sauce and pasta, and advises him to transfer this to his key sellers. Roger offers a vast range of beers and wines, including local products, but his snack suggestions are just out of customer eyesight.
John advises him to use clip-on shelf units to make a seasonal display next to the alcohol section, such as a barbeque or Christmas, to encourage customers to impulse buy. “I would also advise him to keep products such as crisps, snacks and even a few soft drink mixers near to the alcohol so customers can keep their shopping experience simple,” he adds.
3. Become an authority in your specialist areas
Roger explains that there isn’t a hardware store in the local area and that he has tried to cater for this market. But hardware products are the first items customers see when they walk into the store instead of the best promotions, seasonal, confectionary or fresh produce. “We’re trying to make it our point of difference but we’re a bit lost about where to put the range,” said he says.
Despite tapping into the hardware market, alcohol is really where Roger stands out and John advises him to really make the most of his core ranges. “It is important to cater for local needs and you will stand out because of it, but this hardware section isn’t a bestseller. Roger needs to tidy it up and put his best efforts into driving his alcohol associated sales, whether it’s themed drinks glasses or snacks,” he says.
What we learnt:
“It’s good to talk to store owners to understand their everyday issues which may stop them from achieving their optimum performance. Opportunities like this enable us to solve problems and bounce ideas off each other to help boost sales and stay competitive. It’s great to learn something new and improve business for both sides.” John Harvey, category planning executive, Coca-cola Enterprises.
“I’m interested in hearing new ideas on improving my store. I try to get out to industry seminars, but it’s better to have someone in your store who can walk around with fresh eyes like a new customer and help point out how you can do better. I’ve been stuck and unsure about how I can make the most of it but now I’m excited about combining everything I’ve learned from the IAA visit with having a new Post Office fitted in the summer.” Roger Dillon, Lifestyle Express (Southwick Superstore), Sunderland.
Roger’s action plan:
Cross-merchandise throughout the store, by combining snacks with drinks for example.
Streamline soft drinks and keep similar products, such as cola, together.
Create uniform pricing and promotion labels to keep the store consistent.