Managing our range effectively is an important task and the products we offer need to reflect what our customers want to buy.  The community we serve in Blantyre is not very affluent and many of our customers come in to shop everyday.

My strategy to managing an effective range is to anchor our key known value products. For instance we price our 2lt range of milk at £1.20 and label them with our “Mo’s price” stickers. My next key is to involve all our staff in managing our range. I designate each employee with their own category they are responsible for. This allows them to have input in to what we stock. They are all aware of what is selling and what isn’t. I have trained them to regularly identify slow selling lines and bring them to my attention so that together we can decide what to do about them. They are also involved in deciding about replacement products.

Every member of my store team know that if dead lines permanently sit on our shelves it damages our business.

The next area I look at is, does the range in each category we have reflect the opportunity? The first category I took a serious look at was Pet Food. The community around us love their pets and I found there was a significant untapped demand for pet food. This led to us growing the range and growing the space, we now have 12 metres of shelving devoted to the category and we have become a destination for pet owners.

Another area is to look at our weaknesses. We used to have a very poor fresh meat offer and few customer would consider us as a suitable store to buy meat from. I knew there was an opportunity so talked to a good butcher in the town about supplying us on a wholesale basis. Results were not very good initially with us having quite a lot of waste for the first couple of months, but eventually sales justified us continuing. Next I approached another butcher with a reputation for quality cooked meats and they agreed to supply us with a pre packed range. We now take stock from four butchers and sell around £1,500 of meat per week.

This is a glimpse at how I manage my range, but it reflects a process of range review that I have been undertaking for all of the 25 years I have run my store and it still needs to carry on. Each line has to continue to justify its space by the sales & profit it achieves as the space we have available is limited and must produce a return on our investment.