At Summit, four breakout sessions were held on Technology, Sustainability, Community and People. The hosts for the sessions were Grocer editor Adam Leyland, retailing guru Scott Annan, Oxford University professor Jonathan Reynolds and Dennis Reid from RPS Global and each session featured a host of experts on the topics. We’ve put together 12 top tips from the sessions that you can take back to your store and implement today to save money, grow sales and establish yourself as a community leader.
1. Make individual plans for each store. No two local communities are the same, so it’s essential that you cater to their preferences when planning activities around the store. For example, if you have a store in a community that is getting excited about the Jubilee, offer to host a street party and get suppliers involved with the food for the event.
2. Tell everyone, especially the local press, what you’re doing. Many retailers take part in fantastic community activities and charitable work, but it’s surprising how many don’t make the most of the publicity that their work can gain the store. Local press are always looking for good news stories about the area and if you can strike up a positive relationship with them, you’ll be able to count on them to fill the pages of their paper with news about what your store is doing for the community.
3. Make use of suppliers when holding events. Most suppliers are more than happy to get involved with local events. It’s great profile for them and it means that the cost to you is neutral. Plus, your customers get some free produce so you’ll create a buzz around the store that will carry forward in the weeks and months ahead.
4. Collect, understand and use customer data. Customer trends are incredibly important to successful convenience store retailing. As was seen in recent years with the rise and subsequent fall of organic produce, customer preferences change quickly, so it’s essential to know what people are and aren’t buying.
5. Use technology to improve store operations. There is a wealth of technology available to retailers now, from iPads and smartphones to integrated computer systems that allow you to run your store from just about anywhere in the world. Streamlining your store operations, even through the use of applications like Dropbox to ensure that price changes are updated in all stores at the same time can make a big difference to the time you spend on running the store.
6. Use social media for promotions. The rise of Facebook and Twitter has allowed businesses to reach their customers directly for free. Using Twitter to tell your followers about a new deal is a great way to instantly inform your customers and increase footfall to the store.
7. Install fridge doors and fridge shutters. Energy costs continue to rise, so anything you can do to save energy and save money is a definite positive. Installing fridge doors will save you money long term and allow you to keep the temperature higher in the aisles, making for a more comfortable shopping experience for your customers.
8. Use effective point of sale materials. By making the best use of point of sale materials and labels, you can drive your customers toward certain products. For example, use of the Change4Life branding in store can make a fruit and vegetable display stand out and be more appealing. Creating appealing displays will never be more important than this summer, when the European Championships, Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee all present fantastic sales opportunities.
9. Learn about payback on investment. When looking at investments in store, it can be easy to be put off about the initial costs. However, if you think about the long term sustainability of the store, many energy saving measures will pay for themselves in five years and from then on, you’ll be saving money every month.
10. Train your staff to retain them. Working in retail is a great career opportunity, but many convenience store workers see their job as a temporary position before something else comes along. By getting your staff into training programmes, they will realise that this is a viable career option and be more likely to stay on for longer.
11. Let staff feed in ideas, don’t dismiss them. Many great ideas in some of the world’s best companies have come from the bottom of the chain, not the top. By allowing your staff to feed in ideas about the business, you will hear from people that are on the shop floor every day and may have thought of something that can generate sales or cut costs for the store.
12. Be open with your team about sales numbers. If your store is doing well, it’s important that they know that their work is paying off. However, if sales figures present more of a challenge, it’s also an opportunity to discuss what you can change in store and get your staff invested in the success of the business by listening to their ideas.