Good availability is key to retaining valuable customers, so what do you do when stocks are running low, but the delivery that was due two hours ago has failed to make an appearance?
Andrew Newton, who runs a Nisa Local store in Brierley Hill, near Dudley in the West Midlands, now has a finely tuned system to deal with no-show deliveries after he traded through the Nisa-Today's warehouse crisis last year. The problems with Nisaway's new warehouse in Scunthorpe meant Andrew's store missed out on deliveries and some key best-selling products.
"When deliveries don't turn up you make more trips to the cash and carry until the supply chain problems are fixed," he says. "You have to go to the cash and carry because you've got to have that availability for your customers."
Andrew says that one of the most important things to do when a delivery has failed to turn up is let your customers know what's happened. If you tell them it's a one-off blip, they're more likely to forgive and forget and less likely to start shopping elsewhere, he believes.
"We put up a sign asking customers to please be fair with us during the supply chain problems," says Andrew. "It's very important to keep them informed."
Having to make more trips to the cash and carry unfortunately means greater pressure on staffing levels while you're out of the business. "You've got to get staff to cover while you're out at the cash and carry so it puts an extra strain on wages at the end of the week," warns Andrew.
So here's a good tip to save time and costly staff wages: phone through your order to the cash and carry before you go to collect it, and ask if the depot will do deliveries. "My advice is not to panic and be organised," he says. "Sit down and think about what you're going to do. Phone your order through to the cash and carry, get them to make it up, and see if they'll deliver it as well."