With costs rising and margins squeezed, it’s even more important to make sure your store is working hard for you and that there are no areas or products that aren’t driving sales.
Retailers need to know what is selling well and make sure they are giving them every opportunity – from placement to PoS – to build sales further. Analysing sales data is critical to keeping on top of what’s selling.
“Shopkeepers are generally in a mindset of ‘we know better’, but EPoS is a good way of checking that and it’s a bitter pill to swallow when you look at the data because you actually realise what you think you’re selling lots of, you haven’t bought or sold for a long time,” says Sasi Patel, of Go Local Extra Oldham Road in Rochdale.
Retailers need to quickly identify lines that have failed to catch the attention of customers. These products don’t just have the potential to increase a store’s overall wastage, but can actively hinder the sales of a more popular product.
“I’ve got two fridges and I could have 100 different lines in there if I wanted, but there’s no point if they’re not selling,” says Gerald Thomas, from Arcade News in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire. “You’re better off doubling up on the bestselling products.”
As well as identifying what is selling well, retailers should also look at what is bringing in the best margins. Products associated with his post office – such as padded envelopes and stationery – bring in 100% margins for Tariq Chishti, from Netherlee Post & News in Glasgow, so he has put them near the post office and increased stock of the ones that sell.
“This way, although the turnover isn’t as a great as a big shop, our margins are bang on,” he says. “We’ve got high-margin, fast-selling products and we look at what we can do to make them faster sellers.”
Reduce lines, double facings
Dan Brown, from Lothian Stores in Musselburgh, East Lothian, is diligent in ensuring his products are given at least two-to-three facings to ensure they have the maximum impact on customers and sell well.
“Some retailers can fall into the trap of having loads of stock with one facing each. That causes problems and means you’ve got lot more stock to deal with,” he says. “It can also actively take attention away from the products that do sell. If you block products off and give them some visual space to shine in the store, that really helps.”
Brown has also pushed his chilled and fresh range to the forefront of the store. Customers are taken through the entire area and the food-to-go kitchen before they get to any other products. This not only boosts sales in these high-margin categories, but also generates more sales of other grocery products.
Range review on EPoS
While offering choice is important, making sure your range isn’t unnecessarily overextended is just as crucial, says Sasi Patel, of Go Local Extra Oldham Road in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. “A classic example is having four or five different types of tinned peas or carrots,” he says. “When you look at sales, you’ll see some of them are replaced, at best, annually.”
Streamlining your range based on EPoS data doesn’t mean permanently reducing it. Patel says it’s an opportunity to highlight your bestsellers, but also create space for more new lines, which can make your overall offer stand out.
“Range reviews using EPoS are a must, then the question is what do you put in the space you’ve located? Do you dual site or bring in new categories? That’s where the shopkeeper will know best. My advice is to bring in new categories because they entice the customers.”
Segment the business
Tariq Chishti’s Netherlee Post & News in Glasgow has a wide offer that is often non-complementary. So, to ensure he is maximising incremental sales, he has split his store into three different shops under a 800sq ft roof.
“In one section, we’ve got lots of newspapers and magazines and an extensive greetings card range that caters for every occasion and season,” he says. “We’ve also created a distinct food area with alcohol, crisps, confectionery and soft drinks.
“And at the post office, we looked at what sold well and expanded it – gift bags, mail bags, padded envelopes and parcel tape. We’ve got different sizes from 25p to branded stuff at £3.49.”
By analysing the data, he has found out what is selling well in his store and expanded it. “We’ve not cut down on things, we’ve just done three shops within a shop and then focused heavily on those segments.”
Use storage wisely
Gerald Thomas regularly looks through sales data to see which magazines are selling in his Arcade News in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire. If something is selling well, he tries to get more, and if it’s not sold for two months, he delists it and replaces it with something else. With his store’s reputation for magazines, he often gets requests from customers, but he can’t stock everything.
“But what we can do is order a few for them and keep them behind the counter. We have loads of boxes in the back office for them. We put them to one side and they can pick them up whenever they want them. It keeps them coming to you and you can always put more on sale and see if someone else picks them up.”
While he’s happy to store magazines, Thomas avoids keeping confectionery and soft drinks in the back office, getting it on the shelves to sell as quickly as possible.
Explore our comprehensive archive of advice and insight for independent retailers