My biggest sellers are impulse lines, according to my most recent sales figures, so I’m making sure that I’ve got plenty of chilled drinks ready for immediate consumption.
I’ve got a new chiller coming from Britvic this week, and I’ve already installed a narrow chiller, supplied by Diageo, by the counter. I use it for pre-mixed cans as well as small bottles of rosé and white wine. I’ve had it in place a fortnight, but it’s already doing well.
My epos data shows that multipacks of lagers are really taking off, so my next project will be a chiller dedicated to them. It’s really surprising how many retailers haven’t got their stock on epos - they’ve got no sales figures, which makes it really hard to know how to manage each category.
But I’ve also been doing some research on the ground to find out about trends in the local area. There’s a restaurant in Headington that’s always buzzing, so I popped in to see why. They had lots of organic produce on the menu, so I got in touch with specialist wholesaler Suma, which supplies organic and Fairtrade products. I trialled its organic cola and ginger beer and it sold out in days - not because of hot weather, but because it’s something different that competitor stores don’t offer.
I have also started stocking healthy snacks from Suma, such as dried apricots, dates, figs and salted nuts, which have all been well received. Getting to know my demographic has been such a learning curve as I have to ensure I cater for everyone, including more affluent customers.
Another key part of my customer mix is students, so I was expecting the store to suffer now that they’ve gone home for the summer - at my Leamington store I have a 25% drop in sales. I asked around to find out why I hadn’t been hit and it turns out that a lot of overseas students come to the area in the holidays on exchange programmes. They really like British-branded products, so they’re buying lots of Olympics products such as Thornton’s Best of British chocolates and the Cadbury Olympic mascots confectionery.
As well as getting to know more about my customers, I’m also hoping to get to know local businesses in the coming months. There’s a business trade association being set up in Headington and I’m attending their first meeting. Being part of a group will give us a better opportunity to influence decision-making in the community.