Upselling and promotions can often be tricky skills to get right. Aidan Fortune meets a retailer who has them down to a fine art.

With a large housing estate and school on its doorstep, and little nearby competition, it would be easy for Shokar Foodstore manager Sukhjinder Kaur to sit back and let the custom roll in. But instead of taking the easy path, Sukhjinder does all she can to raise sales and standards week on week at her store in Keighley, Bradford.

When she took over the running of the store from her parents on leaving school, her first initiative was to contact Camelot to get a National Lottery terminal installed.

“My parents had been offered one when the National Lottery first started back in 1994, but they didn’t want it,” she explains. “As soon as I started running the store, I knew I wanted one as the customers were calling for it and I saw it as a great opportunity.”

Ambitious from the offset, Sukhjinder took a calculated risk. “I knew that customers wanted the National Lottery so I went to the nearest store that had it and bought 100 £1 Lucky Dips for us to sell in the shop,” says Sukhjinder. “I was a bit worried that I’d be left with £100-worth of tickets, but they all sold out quickly and we were able to prove the level of demand for it.”

Camelot subseqeuntly installed a terminal and from then on there was no looking back for Sukhjinder.

Taking the initiative also extends to upselling, which she’s not shy about doing. Customers will often leave having bought at least one National Lottery product that they hadn’t planned to. She says that it’s important to strike the right balance so that customers are made aware of the opportunity, but don’t feel pressurised into purchasing. “I’ll constantly remind them about draws coming up and tell them that ‘if they’re not in, they can’t win’,” she says. “I wouldn’t force anyone to do it if they didn’t want to.”

National Lottery Retailer of the Year Award

Winner: Shokar Foodstore, Keighley, Bradford

It was Sukhjinder Kaur’s unwavering enthusiasm which led judges to vote her National Lottery Retailer of the Year. Her consistent and proactive approach to promoting and selling National Lottery products really impressed the panel and made her entry stand out from the rest.

Judges were particularly impressed by her creative use of POS materials both inside and outside the store, including the ‘yellow brick road’ leading to the counter, and chalk messages on the steps outside.

Commented one judge: “Sukhjinder has developed a fantastic rapport with her customers by using innovative and unique ways to continually upsell National Lottery products. Her efforts are recognised and rewarded in her sales uplift results, particularly on special event draws where her sales are always well above the target set.”

Of course, not everyone can be a winner, but to stop people getting downhearted, she’ll do a second-chance lucky dip after a big draw. “I get everyone to put their losing tickets into a jar and I get a customer to draw one out,” she explains. “The winner gets a Love2Shop voucher, which creates a great incentive. It also stops people getting too negative if they haven’t won and it has really helped with repeat sales.”

For every rollover or big event draw, Sukhjinder comes up with an action plan to ensure that sales are maximised. She writes on the store steps with chalk so that even before customers have entered, the fact that big money is up for grabs is on their minds. She also puts multi-coloured stars on the floor from the front door to the National Lottery terminal and playstation with messages about upcoming draws such as ‘Will you be the next EuroMillionaire?’, or details about jackpots. “It’s something else to attract attention,” she explains.

Sukhjinder will often spend long hours crafting POS material and developing ideas, even after a busy shift at the store. “You get out what you put into it,” she states. “I’ll often stay up until 1am making sure everything is just right, but it’s worth it as we always beat our targets. Camelot is good about providing POS material, but I’m just going the extra step to boost sales.

“Customers call the trail of stars our ‘Yellow Brick Road’ and it creates a talking point, which usually leads to more sales.”

Along with the stars, Sukhjinder posts signs on the milk and bread fixtures to remind customers about upcoming draws. “The signs are on the chiller doors, right at the handle, so customers can’t miss them,” she says. “Sometimes we’ll put them on newspapers to let customers know about the Lottery. There’s really no chance of anyone forgetting in this store.”

She believes putting in extra effort to highlight special draws really pays off. “It gets the customers excited and encourages them to buy more tickets,” she says.

The statistics back her up. Her marvellous marketing skills helped the store see a remarkable sales uplift of 327% for one EuroMillions draw. “It was one of the largest in the area,” says Sukhjinder. “Now we just have to work hard to beat it.”

As well as a plan for big events, Sukhjinder keeps a winners’ log book that she uses to highlight the prizes that have been won in the store. There is also a Winners’ Wall near the counter where winning tickets are proudly displayed for all customers to see.

Scratchcards are another key area of focus. They make up a huge proportion of National Lottery product sales so Sukhjinder promotes them by highlighting the best-selling card to customers. “It helps with impulse sales,” she points out. “People will be queuing up with their shopping and will see it and pick up a scratchcard.”

As well as embracing hard work, she certainly isn’t afraid of a new challenge. “Our rep is looking to increase our targets so I’ll be looking at new ways to promote the National Lottery in store, such as 80 balloons for an £80m jackpot,” says Sukhjinder. “I’d love for there to be a mascot for the National Lottery that we could get in the store on special days. I’m also thinking about getting some cheerleaders in to really make an event of a big draw.”

Her level of determination and commitment have made Sukhjinder’s store the obvious choice for the National Lottery Retailer of the Year Award at the Convenience Retail Awards 2013. Out of the hundreds of entries received, her application outshone the rest, showing how a retailer really can go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to upselling.

Beyond the National Lottery, Sukhjinder has great ambitions for the business. “A new estate is being built in the area which will have 190 new homes so we’ll be looking to see how we can appeal to the new residents there,” she says. “They’ll be a different type of customer to those we’re used to, so we’ll be increasing our range and introducing meal deals for lunch and evening.

“We want customers to start seeing us as a supermarket where they can get everything, rather than a place for top-up shopping.”

As well as these big changes, Sukhjinder also plans to take a hard-earned break. “My last holiday was five years ago so I think I deserve a week off!”

After being crowned National Lottery Retailer of the Year, who can argue with that?•

Sukhjinder’s tips on how to run successful National Lottery promotions

• Advertise rollovers and special event draws outside the store

• Site lottery pos in other parts of the store to remind shoppers

• Create imaginative pos material, such as Sukhjinder’s star path, which uses coloured stars featuring suggestions of how players could spend their winnings

• Run a second-chance draw where non-winning ticketholders have the chance to win shopping vouchers

• Encourage customers to play by sharing the cost of a ticket as part of a syndicate.