There is a saying used by retailers and about retailers - “they know the price of everything but the value of nothing”, or possibly stronger, substituting “nothing” with “…. all”! This thought popped into my head for two reasons

Firstly, I was watching Channel 4’s Dispatches’ “exposé” on Poundland, which examined the loss of value due to declining pack size over a period of time. The programme highlighted a few examples plucked from a range of thousands of SKUs but clearly missed the point. ‘Still only £1’ - I would call that clever marketing!

The reason that Poundland is doing so well is not just economic conditions but the fact that Jim McCarthy and his team uncompromisingly focus on achieving a credible range, product availability, good store standards and excellent service. During the Olympics, the French cycling team director pointed the finger at his British rivals and suggested some sort of “dark art” was being employed to achieve the superb results. British cycling guru Dave Brailsford replied that there was no mystery metal or specially round wheels, the real secret was 99 other things, with advantages measured in thousandths of seconds.

Which brings me to my second thought. At eXPD8 Retail Field Marketing, we do a lot of work in home entertainment, electronic games and technology, sectors in which our clients are absolutely driven by information and statistics. They know it is critical to have film or game releases on sale on day one and executed to a high standard with correct PoS, as up to 35% of sales are achieved in the first days.

” Too many fail to appreciate that the outcome is the sum of small parts”

We are engaged to ensure this is achieved in every agreed store nationwide, whether on shelf or in shipper, and, vitally, to provide compliance data and photographic evidence. On a recent film launch, 3,300 stores were visited in time to produce a report for the client by 2pm on launch day accompanied by 21,000 catalogued photographs, all collected through the mobile workforce (and now Android tablet) system.

The studio in question recognises that the outcome is the sum of small parts. eXPD8 also works for one retailer adopting the same approach. No surprise to see it is achieving above-average like-for-like sales in a tough market.

But when eXPD8 talks to many food retailers and suppliers about applying the same principles to general grocery and fresh food, the response is often unenthusiastic. Many only see extra costs and ignore the value that can be achieved. From our privileged perspective, we see the success than can be achieved by detail-focused, data-centric businesses. Perhaps the words of Dave Brailsford should ring in their ears.