They may be two retailers with two very different trading environments, but Shop Project participants Stuart Adam and Rajah Ajitkumar both have something in common - they are ready and willing to take a long hard look at their stores and take on board the advice from experts at leading manufacturers.
Stuart owns a bustling 2,000sq ft Keystore on the outskirts of Blandford Forum, Dorset, that’s only a few hundred yards from a hospital; Rajah owns a 1,250sq ft village store, trading under the Premier fascia, in Ashurst Wood, near East Grinstead, East Sussex.
The suppliers providing the know-how covered a diverse range of categories. Bel UK, Bernard Matthews, Britvic, Burton’s Foods, Nestlé Rowntree, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and Redbridge Fresh Services all allocated experts to the project, to recommend changes and help put them into practice.
As in previous years, C-Store will publish a supplement early in the new year, detailing the alterations, and will again present the findings at the Convenience Retailing Show at the NEC next March.
The Test Stores
Stuart readily admits that he doesn’t have “retail in his blood”. He was a successful pig farmer for many years until he bought a small CTN and built a large news delivery rounds business that uses six vehicles.
He works on the basis that it’s good to listen and is open to fresh ideas. From the start, he was positive about working with manufacturers but also had his own ideas for developing the hot takeaway counter and establishing a deli area.
The store has benefited from the new-style Keystore livery which, combined with its prominent corner site, makes the site a beacon for the local neighbourhood and attracts a fair amount of passing traffic.
Food to go has attracted a loyal following, many of whom are in early for the breakfast items. Having three local schools - junior, middle and upper - all within a mile, plus a hospital nearby, guarantees the store a steady flow of hungry customers from the moment it opens at 6.30am.
Stuart appreciates that he - like many other retailers - is less familiar with the finer detail of categories such as OTC medicines and has also enjoyed learning more about the vast range of possibilities within dairy and the challenge of maintaining an inviting fruit and vegetable display.
Rajah has worked his way up in retail over the past 12 years, joining the sector fresh from an IT course. He even admits to enjoying cleaning - something that impressed bosses when he worked at a forecourt store.
He bought the Ashurst Wood outlet three years ago, built a new office at the back and then earlier this year took the gamble of opening another shop in the Worthing area, converting the former CTN into a convenience store.
Like Stuart, he is in favour of hearing what other people have to say and admits: “There are products from these suppliers that I didn’t even know existed. I am learning a lot about dairy ranges, in particular.”
The important thing to remember about this makeover project is that no major refit is involved and no dramatic changes are made to either the product ranges or the fixtures. The magic comes from simply removing slow sellers, adding others and making a splash with displays and promotional material.
Our aim was to maximise the stores’ return from the chilled food category. First, we ensured that the chiller fixtures flowed naturally and were easy to shop. To do this, we segmented the chillers into three main areas: Everyday (milk and dairy), Snacking & Meals (pastries, sandwiches, ready meals, fresh meat and cooked meat), and Fruit and Veg - the responsibility of Redbridge Fresh Services. Then we focused on cooked meats, pastries and sandwiches, providing the “must stock” range that offers choice and uses our brand to draw shoppers to the fixture. To make the products more eye-catching we installed push feeds and branded point of sale.
Britvic Soft Drinks:
Britvic Soft Drinks is delighted to support Convenience Store’s Shop Project. As a major soft drinks manufacturer and supporter of the retail sector, Britvic is at the forefront in providing customers with effective and practical merchandising strategies. Working in tandem with Convenience Store, we are committed to driving category excellence and this project has given our retail partners timely, pragmatic advice for use in their outlet that will help build sales and profits across all categories.
Sweet biscuits split into four segments based on the needs of the consumer: Biscuit Barrel, Lunch Box, Something Special, and Healthier. The trick to achieving a profitable biscuit category is to ensure that each segment is given the appropriate amount of space, with the best-selling brands within each segment stocked in the correct pack formats and without duplication. It should all be displayed in a way that is easy for the customer to shop.
Managing these elements is a fine balancing act, but Burton’s Foods is expert at combining epos data and consumer insights to deliver category growth.
In both stores the challenge was to arrange the fixtures according to shoppers’ way of thinking via “want steps” - hunger, snacking, pleasure and play. Then it was necessary to ensure that fast sellers were double-spaced and to remove slow sellers. Secondary siting is important and there were opportunities to place dump bins and to link confectionery sales with other categories by putting units with newspapers, magazines and chilled food.
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare:
As part of the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare was pleased to be involved in the project.
Pfizer has carried out research to understand more about shoppers and their buying patterns. As a result of that work we have created planograms that help shoppers find the products they need. For example, someone looking for a cold or flu remedy may also need cough medicine, so it is sensible to display these categories beside each other. Implementing these plans will not only help shoppers find what they’re looking for, but help sell more products.
Redbridge Fresh Services:
Fresh produce is a problem area for many convenience retailers, largely because of the wastage issue. We aim to provide a supermarket specification solution by examining what consumers want - and delivering it. With revolutionary packing, which incorporates moulded, protective punnets and special film wrap, we can reduce wastage, provide a core range of fresh fruit and vegetables and allow a full, tempting display.
Most importantly, we are extending the shelf life of produce from a typical three or four days to seven days by using film which “puts the product to sleep” and thereby creates supermarket quality
for a convenience environment.