The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. However, as a convenience retailer, we want to be all things for all people - it’s in our nature. And that is especially true when it’s the first time you’re doing it!
We are extending our store, and our mission is to create something that I, my team and our customers are all super-proud of.
The journey has thrown up multiple questions already, reflecting the challenges of our ever-fluid industry. Is it worth extending to the rear, side, or even both? Should we put a small kitchen at the back and make our own in-house food to go offering? If so, how? How do we get out of our ATM contract? Where should the post office counter be located in order to prevent a clash of queues? Is it worth exploring other symbol groups? Do I need a new epos provider? And how on earth do I put measures in place to create a work/life balance?
It’s important to break things down into digestible chunks, tackling each separately and celebrating the wins. It took a long time finalising what our new store’s physical footprint would be and I’m grateful for the lessons I learnt along the way. Finalising store layout has proven to be tougher than anticipated as we plan to incorporate mission-based shopping, but space is a luxury we simply don’t have.
We’re now choosing lighting, flooring, chillers, shelving and the like. We’re also collaborating with suppliers who have shown an interest in creating something simple yet special. I want my store to be a positive place to work and shop, but being functional is the priority over bells and whistles.
One minute I am buzzing with excitement, and the next I am petrified by the task at hand. Coping mechanisms and a support network have been critical, and fellow retailers have proven to be the most credible source of knowledge. As expected, the banter between us is plentiful.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you in my bi-monthly column, watch this space and follow it on Twitter at @raaj_c. Please feel free to pop in if you’re going past junction 4 on the M40, you’re always welcome.
Rome may not have been built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.