There is a lot of talk about growth in the convenience channel and it was no different at the Local Shop Summit in Torquay earlier this month.
With more than 200 retailers in the audience, John Kinney, retail director of Today’s, asked a simple question: Who was in growth? The answer on the electronic pads was 42 per cent.
As industry figures show that more people are shopping more frequently in local shops – and experts say more than £10billion in extra sales will be in the convenience channel by 2018 – where is the growth?
Principally in supermarket stores and in symbol groups, says Kinney. Why? Because the biggest area of convenience is top-up shopping and this plays to the supermarket operators’ strengths.
What he did not say is that much of that £10billion is not new money but simply the transfer of sales from a Tesco out of town to a Tesco in a high street. What is encouraging for independents, particularly those in symbol groups, is that they are winning sales from these new shoppers (or new shopping missions) at the expense of the multiples.
But you only win the business if you organise your business for success. Anecdotal evidence from the Summit is that many retailers are not ready to change their retail model or the way they operate.
The first vote of the day asked the audience to recall the last piece of customer service they delivered and to rate it on a scale from brilliant to poor. Nearly 70 per cent described it as brilliant.
International retail expert John Stanley challenged this repeatedly. Are you being honest with yourself? The answer to this is probably yes and no. Honest in that this is the attitude of most of the people in the audience. But not honest in that they simply do not measure how they perform.
Brilliant customer service is a result of great staff delivering at the end of a process that starts with excellent merchandising and retail execution. It is a discipline that starts before the shop opens for business every day and continues through a series of interactions with suppliers and shoppers.
Too many people open their shop in the morning, sit behind the counter and expect the customer to come to them. This simply won’t work.
There are exceptions. One retailer told me that his issue was his secondary location simply was not attracting shoppers. While he and his retail peers are taking action to improve the physical environment they are not yet active with social media such as Facebook.
Stanley challenged independents to make digital marketing a key part of their tool kit. Market your area, not your shop, he advised. (Check out some brilliant videos of independents doing this that were also shown at the summit).
Attendees were challenged to take back three action points to their shops, One retailer told me he had five. Many more, I suspect, took none.
If you are in the latter camp and reading this: be honest with yourself. How badly do you want success? To Get Local Right you need to have an action plan and embrace change.