It's not enough just to have the products sitting on shelves. Suppliers must take an imaginative and hands-on approach to help retailers understand the dos and don'ts of effective retailing.

Kishor Patel, independent retailer, Houghton Trading

Retailers want to stock the bestselling brands in their stores so it is important that suppliers and retailers work together. By working with suppliers, retailers can make sure that they are selling the right mix of products at the right prices in the right areas. Retailers should offer their sales data to suppliers so that they can assess and analyse this data and advise retailers accordingly. For example, a retailer may not be aware that they have slow sales of a particular product or they are allowing too much space on shelf to a particular product.

But suppliers need to be aware that it’s not just about getting their products into stores - there is a much bigger picture. Suppliers need to be more innovative. Independent retailers are being increasingly asked to get involved in local community activities. Suppliers should consider donating, for example, a couple of free cases of water to a store which it could then donate to a sports day or local fete on behalf of the supplier. This would add real value and the cost is minimal.

Suppliers could also help create more theatre and events in stores by organising tasting sessions. Offering retail training centres where retailers can get advice and take away tools to work with in their stores would also be beneficial.

Shamus Lehal, Londis retailer

Suppliers need to do a lot more to help retailers. They should offer the same terms to independent retailers as the supermarkets because I believe that the big supermarkets are getting better deals than smaller retailers. They should be more open and honest with their payment terms.

They should also offer smaller retailers free stock when they have a promotion or launch a new product. We are not going to try out a new product if it isn’t going to catch the customers’ eye. It needs to be really special and innovative because if it’s not right, customers will go back to their usual products after a few months. Suppliers should help smaller retailers back new product launches with the right promotions, some free stock and help with the display of products in store.

We also need more support when there is a product recall. There have been an increasing number in the past few months which can be disruptive.
A number of suppliers, especially the tobacco suppliers, used to be very good and would visit the store regularly. However, cigarette displays are becoming increasingly restrictive and with recent increases on cigarette duty, the government seems intent on pushing cigarettes either under-the-counter or to encourage black market trade.

Susie Ackland, Pet Trade Marketing Manager, Masterfoods

Masterfoods has launched ‘Easy 4 You’ to help retailers maximise profits through their pet offering. Easy 4 You makes selecting the right range easier by bringing together the pet food category’s 19 best-selling lines in an easy-to-use fixture. It is designed to make life easier for retailers with limited shelf space and has a four step plan:

1) Identify how much petfood space you have available in your store
2) Shop from Easy 4 You. This is the minimum range required to stock a half metre fixture and is carefully chosen as the essentials you and your customers need.
3) Add other products to your Easy 4 You core range as required.
4) Merchandise your petfood space with Easy 4 You as its heart, and keep it stocked up.

The pet food market offers retailers huge sales opportunities. With the convenience channel showing healthy growth within the pet food market at 1.1% and with pet population on the rise, Masterfoods is committed to helping convenience retailers to harness these trends and grow their pet category.

On average, pet food shoppers only spend 80% of what they intend to in stores due to poor availability - products shoppers are looking for are either not stocked, or out of stock. Research shows while pet food shoppers spend more than £2,000 per year in convenience stores, more than 50% of shoppers will not return after being let down by availability twice.

By stocking the right range, retailers will benefit from lucrative, satisfied petcare shoppers, many of whom will become loyal shoppers, resulting in increased turnover and profit for retailers.