HIM Think Tank

All posts from: July 2017

Get ready for back-to-school

Posted by: HIM Wed, 26 Jul 2017

Summer is here, and with it comes the six-week holidays. While many parents are concerned with how to keep their kids entertained without school, retailers need to be considering how to prepare for that back-to-school season. If your store is within close proximity to a school you will well know that keeping mums and dads on the school run happy is key to better sales, writes Louise McWhirter.

So how can we make parents’ lives easier during those mad pre- and post-school rushes? The basics are key. Making sure that restocking and admin tasks are taken care of outside of school drop-off and pick-up times is essential, to allow shelves to be stocked and staff to be on hand to answer questions or serve at the tills. Meanwhile, clutter has to be avoided. Dump bins placed to interrupt the shopper’s flow down your aisles can cause more irritation than inspiration for those with young children and pushchairs.

When it comes to ‘right store, right range’, retailers with stores near to a school should be considering what items are most likely picked up for an after-school treat or found in the typical lunch box. One-third of children take a packed lunch to school every day. While the majority of parents say they source most of their packed lunch ingredients from supermarkets, there is a wealth of opportunity for small store retailers to be providing solutions from the top-up shop.

As many as seven out of 10 of parents with school-age children say that they make a conscious decision to ensure their children eat healthily at school lunch time. Three in four of children’s lunch boxes contain fruit, compared with just 17% which have chocolate included. While the priority of ensuring children enjoy a healthy diet away from home has been present arguably since Jamie’s School Dinners campaign back in 2005, the subject of health is ever-evolving. Ensuring you are catering to these changing demands is paramount. Retailers should be keeping up to date with relevant categories in growth at a national level and also speaking to local shoppers about their needs.

Adhering to these measures should play well in keeping mums and dads on the school run happy and helping ensure you are unlocking more sales.

Enhance the shopper's experience

Posted by: HIM Mon, 3 Jul 2017

June 21 was officially the first day of summer and retailers have their fingers crossed for good weather and a successful season. However, as the industry becomes increasingly impacted by legislation changes, consolidation and pricing pressures, c-stores need to find ways to stand out from the pack.

One way to differentiate yourself is by providing fantastic customer service and a great in-store experience, writes HIM’s Matt Smith. Traditionally, expectation for the in-store experience revolved around staff – namely friendliness and helpfulness, driven by the local nature of convenience stores. However, the modern shopper’s expectation has been buoyed by their experience in other channels and by the proliferation of the supermarkets.

Therefore, retailers have to look towards less tangible factors, such as staff friendliness, cleanliness of store, speed of service and flow of store to ensure they make the customer’s trip as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Providing a great in-store experience will demand investment, but getting the basics right can mean huge benefits for both retailers and suppliers.

HIM spoke to 20,000+ shoppers as part of our annual Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP) and for the first time ease of shop has emerged as the priority importance for UK convenience shoppers. This was closely followed by staff friendliness and cleanliness of store, highlighting the importance of providing an in-store experience that fulfils shopper expectations.

CTP data also revealed that the more satisfied shoppers are with an in-store experience, the higher their visit frequencies. Shoppers who rate their in-store experience as nine or 10 (out of 10) visit 44% more frequently than the shopper who rates their experience as seven or eight. Positive effects are also seen on basket size and spend.

In short, retailers can no longer view customer service and in-store experience related factors as a ‘nice to do’, but as an important business opportunity.  If retailers can put systems in place to deliver against growing expectations then they will find themselves in a better position to offset external political, economic and social impacts.

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