I went to the National Convenience Show last month and it was the best so far. There were good suppliers there, and I had the chance to speak to different retailers.
I had a chat with Tim Chalk, chief executive of 7-Eleven stores in Hong Kong and Macau. When he told me about stores in Hong Kong measuring just a few hundred square feet and being charged £45,000 a month in rent, I could understand why he felt it was so important to make space work for you. He said it was vital to try out new products, and to see what my competition was and what they were stocking.
After speaking to him I went to the small convenience store at the local Oxford Brookes University to see what they stocked, and to the store at Oxford Radcliffe hospital. Both stocked Urban Eat sandwiches, which was one of the suppliers I’d met at the show. It has a great range of sandwiches at reasonable prices, so I got in touch and it is going to start supplying me.
I’ve also been working with Heinz this month. It had a look at the store and my epos data and is going to send me a list of all the products I should be stocking. Then it will help me to restructure my fixtures and hopefully I’ll see a sales increase. It should be a great supplier partnership and I’ll be shouting about what worked well and what didn’t.
HIM’s client manager Ed Sibley visited my store, too. I asked him what I could do better and he suggested that I try selling loose fruit in addition to the four-packs I already have. As a result, I have started selling single apples, bananas and oranges in wicker baskets by the counter and so many people have come in and picked them up.
My other big news is that I’m trialling an integrated contactless system, which will be rolled out to other Londis stores at a later date. It took a day to install with three people from Londis and eight from Barclaycard.
Previously, when staff scanned products the total cost appeared on the till. They then had to re-type the total into the Visa terminal if someone wanted to make a card payment, which led to errors and slowed down transaction times.
Now that the two systems have been integrated it means that customers can easily use contactless payment – they can just tap and go.
Transaction times are faster and queues shorter, plus it has a knock-on effect as staff are able to keep a better eye on what’s happening in the store.