In the first Independent Achievers Academy visit of 2013, the IAA’s Louise Banham joined Imperial Tobacco’s Tim Oates on a visit to Solomon Kassa’s Southampton store to talk about the importance of having the right stock.

Key tips

  • Carry out regular avail­ability checks. A ‘toilet check’ style form can get staff in the habit of making checks.
  • Keep a customer request book for new products so you don’t forget them on your next order or trip to the cash & carry.
  • Work with reps. They’ll often have great advice on how to improve availability and visibil­ity.

Soloman stocks a lot of price-marked products but experiences challenges keeping tight availability on his tobacco gantry.  Tim suggests introducing a customer request book to keep on counter as a reminder to stock up.

Big sellers and well-known brands are prominent in Soloman’s store, with additional facings and eye-level positioning. Tim comments that doing this is key if you want to retain your customers and stop them going elsewhere.

Soloman doesn’t use a planogram for tobacco, which could explain why his sales fluctuate so much. To prevent out of stocks, Tim recommends using a planogram that reflects market share in the area to help boost sales.

“It’s been useful to have Tim visit to look around the shop. Although I’m confident about what I’m doing with availability in my shop, it’s always good to hear new ideas and try new things. Unless you try new things you don’t find out whether they’re going to work,” says Soloman.

To find about more about getting involved, visit iaacademy.co.uk. You can enter your business into the 2013 awards here.