Independent retailers can claw back market share by forming stronger ties across the supply chain, says Marcus Vallance

In the small market town of Newcastle Emlyn, Wales, a war is raging. News that a prime site on its tiny high street is being offered to one of the big supermarket chains has not gone down well with local retailers, who are fighting back with feisty campaigning and a flurry of press coverage.

And they are not alone. Up and down the country independent retailers are showing that far from being exhausted by their struggle against the might of the multiples they are drawing deep and are giving the fight everything they've got.

Often, they have public sympathy on their side, but the one weapon they have lacked is the strategic information that would enable them to make better choices and ensure customer loyalty to protect their businesses against attacks on their market share.

But now, with reignited passion to play the multiples at their own game, suppliers, wholesalers and independent retailers are beginning to form stronger bonds in order to increase their ability to fight back. Being willing to share sales information must be a key part of this strategy.

Having visibility of comparative, up-to-date purchasing trend data would enable independent retailers to make smarter decisions, plugging otherwise unidentified gaps in their product ranges or adjusting the pack sizes or brands of the goods they stock to maximise sales.

Suppliers should also be able to harness this information, which would allow them to work with wholesalers to extend personalised offers to individual retailers, with greater cost efficiencies and success rates than large-scale media and advertising campaigns.

Crucially, consumers would win, too, because local retailers would now hopefully be stocking more of the products they want to buy while presenting them with pertinent special offers.

Closer supply chain ties and being prepared to share sales information has the potential to offer a huge advance, enabling independent retailers to claw back the high street, boost sales while driving down costs and regain and maintain customer loyalty.

Marcus Vallance is CEO of SalesOut.

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