Scotmid Co-operative prides itself on being at ‘the heart of the communities we serve’.
We believe that by developing and nurturing contacts with producers and manufacturers within these communities, we are capable of supporting local economies, while adding some unique points of differences to our stores. It gives our customers the opportunity to purchase some fantastic and truly distinctive foods that appeal directly to local tastes and have a provenance that they identify with. Time and time again, our customers have demonstrated their desire to buy locally-sourced products.
In Grampian, we are currently working with a fruit farmer who grows some of the best strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries in Scotland. Our store teams were invited to visit the farm to see the fruit in situ and watch the harvesting process. This opportunity allowed our staff to gain a greater understanding of what makes the fruit so special, giving them the knowledge to be shared with our customers and building consumer confidence in our produce.
Soft fruit that is stocked from our main supply chain remains as popular as ever, but customers are continually delighted to know that locally-picked soft fruit has come from the field to the store in only a matter of hours, resulting in a fantastic volume of sales. The quality of the products and packaging are such that our customers instantly recognise them and, in some cases, travel some distance to purchase them.
Scotmid also works with some of the best award-winning craft bakeries from across Scotland. Customer tastes vary dramatically across the regions in which we trade - in Aberdeen, for example, butteries are incredibly popular, in Fife a well fired roll is a firm favourite, and in Glasgow a crispy roll is the product of choice. In many instances, our store teams have visited the bakeries and been given the opportunity to make the baked goods themselves, while learning about the ingredients and processes that are employed by each bakery. Our local bakery offer has seen customer footfall increase dramatically, giving our stores a fresh point of difference in all of our trading areas.
We work with suppliers and manufacturers from across a wide range of lines, some of which might only be represented in a small number of our stores, while others may have a broader appeal and scale that means they can be carried across our entire estate. We consider our trading relationships to be partnerships, rather than purely buyer/seller transactions. We ensure both parties enjoy commercial success while sharing best practice to help promote further expansion of the partnership where appropriate.
Furthermore, because of the size of our business, we are able to utilise our own internal resources to assist smaller suppliers with marketing, IT and compliance, to expand longevity within the trading relationship.
How to start your own local journey
- Ask your customers questions about what lines you are missing or what they would like to see in store. Ensure you listen to what your customers tell you.
- Visit your competitors to understand what they are or are not doing, and learn from this.
- Attend farmers markets or use a regional food group to gain knowledge about local produce.
- Start small. Begin with just a few suppliers, building gradually as you find your way.
- Be committed. Working with local suppliers will undoubtedly increase your workload and demand additional resources to get started, however this will increase the likelihood of achieving new sales and increasing your bottom line.