Price cuts can effectively boost sales, but I have found that bogofs are the most effective. Because I know every one of my customers by name, I just tell them about these offers. I don't need sales materials, I don't use clip-on shelf extensions or standalone units and I don't advertise products in the shop window. Word of mouth is my most effective tool.
I'm the best person to know how to promote products in my store. I wouldn't go to anyone else for advice, because I know what my customers want. Recent promotions that have worked very well for me have focused on biscuits and chocolates. I don't run any seasonal promotions.
Lighting is important in order to encourage people to come into the store initially and I tend to heat the shop when it's cold with a calor gas heater.
Fast moving products have to be put in front of people on shelves, with slow moving products next to them, further back. And I will know within weeks which products aren't going to sell and I don't bring them back.
I put soft drinks in a chiller near the till. They are popular grab and go products and tend to sell very quickly.
Harris Interactive Marketing
Independent stores need to first understand their customers and the different missions they are on to be able to serve them properly and at the appropriate times of days.
Often independents need to de-clutter stores by reducing their range, introducing clear signage and keeping shops clean and tidy, making sure that customers have easy access to the core categories.
Availability remains a major issue. There should be more focus on the basics such as availability and service and less on price, which is not the most important thing to shoppers. Fast and friendly service and a unique product offering is where independents can truly shine.
They should be picking up on changing consumer trends in order to maximise sales. Consumers leave home 13 times per month without eating breakfast, but only 2% of all snacking purchases bought in a c-store are for breakfast. This is a huge missed opportunity.
Why not introduce healthy snack bars or bags of nuts or even fresh fruit and team up with local greengrocers or farmers markets? Placing items near or next to the till point increases impulse purchasing and this does not require any sophisticated merchandising.
For a start, it's important to keep shelves filled. There's nothing more off-putting for customers than going into a store with the intention of buying a product, only to find empty shelves. Then you need to look at how you lay out your products and which products should go next to each other.
Products should be blocked vertically and similar products should be grouped together. This gives the customer a clear signpost for the key products that they're looking for. For example, wines should be blocked first by colour, then by country of origin, then by brand. By clearly blocking products it makes it easier for customers to shop the fixture.
It's also critical to give adequate space to the fast-selling lines to avoid out of stocks.
Many retailers stock far too many products in an effort to offer a breadth of range. But in fact this has an adverse effect because in doing this they often stock far too many slow sellers and consequently not enough fast-selling lines. The fast-selling lines sell out and then they're left with out-of-stocks.
And good house-keeping is a must. It is essential to have clean, tidy shelves. Customers will not want to buy food that has been on a dirty shelf.