John Wood reports on work that Batleys and Britvic have carried out in partnership to make the soft drinks category easier for customers to shop

When you’ve been used to finding products in a fixed place in a depot it can be frustrating if everything is moved around, but not so at Batleys in Coventry. There customers have been really impressed by changes to the soft drinks aisles.

The switch-around was suggested by Britvic, because it believes that like products should be grouped together all the colas together, all the energy drinks together, and so on as this is the way the consumer shops. However, this meant a major change for the Coventry depot, where products had traditionally been grouped by supplier.

Andy Cope, Britvic customer development manager (wholesale), says: “It was a pilot scheme for both Batleys and Britvic. We had done it with other customers, but not on the same scale. We came to Batleys with a view that across the group they were supplier-led, so you would walk down a Coke aisle, you’d walk down a Britvic aisle, and walk down a GSK aisle.”

Britvic devised new planograms, and depot manager Jon Griffin was tasked with ensuring the changes were carried out very carefully as they would be taking place during trading hours and no one wanted to cause any disruption to customers. He explains: “We planned it very carefully so that we cleared one aisle out and made sure everything was still on sale and moved it from aisle to aisle and re-planned it out. It’s not something that you can just jump into and do throughout the day, because you still have customers to service. We put notices in reception to say this was going on and the guys that were relaying it were those who worked on the section anyway, so any customer could ask them where things had moved to. It all went very smoothly.”

Griffin says sales in the category were maintained throughout the process and they started to climb straight afterwards. In fact, they haven’t stopped rising since. Feedback from customers has been good, he says, with reports that it is much better having all the products gathered together.

Soft drinks is also a category that sees a lot of new products and these benefit from much better visibility thanks to the new layout, according to Cope. He says that before, if a customer didn’t go down a particular supplier’s aisle, they would miss their npd, but now if they are shopping for particular products, such as energy drinks, they’ll see all the npd and are much more likely to buy it