Independent retailers are being offered free access to a new study by consultants SRCG, designed to drive growth in UK convenience stores.

Supported by Booker, Unilever and the Association of Convenience Store’s (ACS) independent retailer board, ‘The Shape of Convenience’ report suggests key ‘Must’ and ‘Should do’ actions for convenience retailers to achieve in 2013 and beyond.

All are supported by working examples from many of the UK’s top convenience store retailers – many of whom are also C-Store Champions.

Retailers can use the key points as a check list in their business, while manufacturers can use them to verify their small store capability and investment.

Topping the list of ‘Must’ actions for 2013 is the need for retailers to “achieve absolute clarity” on what they stand for in the eyes of the shopper.  

It uses the example of independent retailer Andrew Wright of Spar Derrykeevan in Northern Ireland who is constantly interacting with shoppers to find out what their needs are, and what products they want.

The need for stores to offer a clear value proposition takes the second spot. It suggests that stores build this via the sourcing of “exclusive products, tiered private label, one-off promotions and one or more unique services” to make stores true destinations.

It uses the example of Warner’s Budgens in Moreton-in-Marsh, where retailer Guy Warner has “successfully repositioned the store’s value principles without losing its original look and feel”. This delicate balancing act was achieved by blending the shock tactic of a ‘Wall of Value’ at the entrance to the store, with the more subtle tactic of establishing a constant stream of bespoke local offers and broad ranging promotions on tertiary brands.

The requirement for retailers to understand who their customers are “and what they really need,” is touted as the third most important thing for retailers to do this year, followed by the necessity to “offer more convenience than just being local,” at number four.

The report also urges retailers to “embrace proven technological innovation” and claims that the managed use of EPoS and shopper data remains the “greatest untapped sales growth opportunity in convenience retailing”.

The need for stores and suppliers to collaborate more effectively is also stressed. “There are still gaps between what the retailer recognizes as shopper-centric and what the manufacturer sees. Full information is often not shared or strategies aligned, resulting in sub-optimal shopper engagement for both parties,” the report states.

“We anticipate that many retailers will already be doing a number of the things we highlight, but the motto of the report is simple,” co-author Scott Annan said. “It doesn’t matter how good you are today, standing still will not be good enough for tomorrow. You must constantly be thinking ‘what next?’ Independence is a strength, but one which must constantly be redefined for the shopper,” he added.

The report is free to access, but individuals are invited to make donations to the Aasha charity, which was established after the Asian tsunami in 2004 and supports good causes in India.

PDF copies can be downloaded at