From spiking Covid rates, to the war in Ukraine causing global uncertainty and driving energy costs up to unprecedented levels – which in turn is causing inflation rates to jump to levels not seen for 40 years – business and household overheads are increasing dramatically, putting a strain on real household incomes. With this in mind we caught up with the Partners for Growth Retailer Advisory Panel to get their tips to help retailers overcome what is likely to be a very challenging year, and have set out their 10 Point Plan to help your business prosper this year and beyond.
With so much uncertainty facing the country at the moment, 2022 looks set to be a challenging time for retailers and shoppers alike. So, we caught up with the Partners for Growth team to get their thoughts on what actions retailers should be taking now, to help them navigate through these uncertain times.
For nearly 20 years, Partners for Growth, through guidance from their award-winning Retailer Advisory Panel have been providing convenience retailers with unbiased ranging advice on the top selling products, sales growth tips to increase a shoppers’ basket spend, and expert retail advice to help retailers maximise their profits.
1. Stay on top of key business fundamentals
With cost increases driving up inflation, it’s more important than ever to run your business efficiently and be on top of your business fundamentals – sales, margin, footfall, and average basket spend – is key. Now is also a good time to review your business plan – if you don’t have one, now is a great time to write one as the process helps focus on your business priorities. You can download a business plan template here
2. Increase your margins to cover your cost increases
With overheads rising fast, the breakeven point for a managed C-store is increasing too, so, it is important to maintain or increase your margins to ensure they cover the rise in running costs.
3. Review your product mix
It is important to ensure you are catering for your key customer needs, because during lockdown many retailers added more SKUs at the expense of bestsellers shelf space. So now is a good time to review your ranging against our unbiased planograms to ensure the core best sellers are included, as recommended here . Given the time of year and current Covid-19 spike, it is worth paying particular attention to your Health & Wellness, Personal Care, and Home Hygiene categories, all of which have seen significant growth since the pandemic began, as shoppers strive to look after their health.
We’d also urge you to review your total store to ensure you are offering clear value options to your customers. January and February have always been months when shoppers are more focused on their finances, but with costs rising rapidly and household incomes being squeezed, it is important to ensure you cater for those customers feeling the pinch. Check out our article on offering perceived value to your customers here.
4. Look after your staff!
Competition for good staff is increasing across the retail environment, so it pays to look after and retain good staff. The panel would urge retailers to introduce initiatives to retain your staff, such as increasing training, improving staff facilities in the store, and offering a good living wage. Now may be a good time to carry out a staff appraisal to let your staff know they are valued. If staff do decide to leave, these initiatives will make it more attractive to new people considering joining your team. Checkout our article on retaining staff and download our Staff Appraisal Form here.
5. Play to your store’s key strengths and points of difference
It is important to be known for what you do best, whether that be online, delivery, niche products, late opening hours, community support, or great availability. That way, your store becomes a destination for customers and builds loyalty amongst them. Find out how to make your store a destination
6. Focus on good availability
Availability continues to be an ongoing issue, which the panel believes is likely to continue well into spring and summer 2022. Gaps on shelves could result in shoppers going elsewhere and risk losing your customer for good. By investing in existing and new supplier relationships it will help you access the stock you need to minimise availability gaps. Panel member Kay Patel extended his supplier relationships to 5 Wholesalers to do just this. Read more here.
7. Embrace online sales and delivery
This is a big growth opportunity and if it is right for your store, it’s a great way to generate incremental sales and build customer loyalty for your business. Mandeep Singh of Singh’s Premier started a delivery service for a few vulnerable customers early on in lockdown 2020, but demand for it exploded and it has led to a transformation of his business. Find out more here
8. Invest in building customer loyalty
There is more competition than ever, coming from diverse areas including Amazon, Ocado, Discounters and delivery start-ups such Getir. That’s why it is important to talk to your customers to ensure that you continue to provide them with everything they want from a store, so they don’t look elsewhere. This now includes ensuring that you are providing a safe, fit for purpose Covid shopping environment.
9. Get involved in social media
If handled correctly, it can be a valuable tool to help you engage with your customers and through word of mouth your wider community at very little cost, which will help grow your customer base and build customer loyalty. Mandeep Singh, who has just been named Asian Trader of the Year at the Asian Trader awards has invested a lot of time in his social media activities and now has nearly 30,000 members. Take a look to see how he has used social media to transform his business, and why not ask him a question here
10. Spend time talking with other retailers
Just as it is good to share experiences with friends with shared interests, so too is it good to share experiences and ideas with other retailers, who may be experiencing similar challenges or found new innovative sales opportunities. Panel member David Charman who runs award winning Spar Parkfoot store commented “It’s important to spend more time talking to other retailers, the ideas and answers are out there…I have so missed doing this in the past couple of years.“ To find out more about David’s store visit here