Innovation is a vital part of any independent retail business, from the smallest CTNs to the largest convenience stores. Paying close attention to market trends and adapting your business to meet them will show customers you are aware of their needs, encouraging them to continue shopping with you.

But innovation does not have to entail a massive overhaul to your existing store layout. It can be as simple as changing prices to reflect shifts in shoppers’ buying habits, or adding extra lines of a particularly popular product to encourage more impulse sales.

Making small adjustments has led to success for Aniz and Alnaz Gulamhussein, owners of Nisco in Liversedge, West Yorkshire. Here, they speak to Nestlé Confectionery trade media manager Emma Dover to show how their ideas can help you do the same.

Top Tips

  • Innovate core product lines, such as confectionery, by merchandising products together by shopper needs. For example, group all snacking products together, such as Kit Kat 4 Finger and Toffee Crisp. This makes it easier for customers to find what they want and encourages impulse sales.
  • Ask customers what products and services they would like to see. For example, if there is demand for local goods, speak to nearby manufacturers.
  • Seasonal and major events, such as the World Cup, represent great sales opportunities. Retailers should create innovative eye-catching displays to capitalise on impulse sales.
  • Pass on wholesaler promotions by creating your own special offers. Highlight this by making your own promotional labels and point-of-sale material, or ask wholesalers or manufacturers if they can make personalised PoS for you.

1 Make use of seasonal events and trade-supported initiatives

With summer approaching and big sporting events such as the World Cup on the horizon, Aniz and Alnaz are hoping to gain additional alcohol sales using their recently installed open chillers. The store previously had three closed chillers, but the couple felt the new units would allow them to display beer and wine more prominently.

These chillers have also given Aniz and Alnaz the chance to widen their selection of wines in preparation for the summer. This has been backed with promotions from their wholesaler, Booker, along with their own special offers. Aniz explains: “We print our own labels with the price and product that is on offer. Some of our labels also feature pictures of the products on them, but we have found that the simpler and less cluttered these are, the more people tend to take notice of them.”

2 Innovate your core categories to increase the appeal of your store

Following the recession, Aniz and Alnaz say more of their customers are being cautious with their spending. In reaction, the pair have focused on products and promotions priced around the £1 barrier.

This has extended to the shop’s confectionery aisle, which has a three-for-£1 offer on a variety of chocolate bars. Alnaz explains that this changes on a regular basis, depending on the deals she and Aniz pick up from their wholesaler. “We had one customer who came back and bought £8 worth of chocolate in a single sale because of the offer”, says Alnaz.

Emma believes that Aniz and Alnaz could boost their confectionery sales further by grouping products together to meet shopper needs, and by highlighting these changes with point-of-sale material. “This makes it easier for people to shop. With over 80% of confectionery sales coming from the main fixture, this is a really important area for retailers to focus on.”

3 Tailor your offering to meet the needs of your customers

To better meet the requirements of their regular customers, Aniz and Alnaz stock more locally sourced produce. Examples include Watsons bread and rolls, which are produced in Liversedge. Aniz says: “The shop used to have a Watsons bakery attached to it. They have moved, but we would get customers asking if we stocked their products. We thought we were missing a trick, so we made a deal with Watsons to stock some of their products.”

Bennetts eggs are another smash with locals, as well as people from further afield. Alnaz says: “We have one gentleman who travels around 20 miles to pick up these eggs from here. He tells us we’re the only shop he knows that stocks them.”

4 Introduce categories and services to meet your customer’s needs

Aniz and Alnaz agree that core categories such as alcohol and confectionery are essential for maintaining profits, but this has not stopped them from branching out into new territories. A recent success has been the addition of prepackaged fruit and veg, which is pricemarked at £1. Large sacks of potatoes have also been a hit with customers trying to make their budgets stretch further.

Aniz says future plans for the business include remodelling the front counter to make it easier for shoppers to find what they want, as well as making the store more visually appealing. And while Camelot has yet to get back to them regarding the introduction of a Lottery terminal, Aniz and Alnaz say they will continue pushing for one for the benefit of their customers.

For more store galleries go to See My Shop

See more of Aniz and Alnaz’s store below