Ideas for independents

Through all the work which him! does working with shoppers (we are speaking to 52,000 of them in the next 12 weeks), independent retailers (we speak to 3,500) and suppliers (we are working with them all the time) and monitoring shopping behaviour via our tracking programmes, him! has identified the following areas where independent retailers can exploit their strengths and opportunities to maximise sales during the recession.

Wholesalers and suppliers should be aware of these strengths and opportunities so that they can support the independent retailer when visiting the depot.

him!’s research results tell us that 43% of independent retailers say that they would like information and advice from their local cash and carry. Twenty seven per cent of independent retailers tell us that they would like a list of top 10 selling lines by different categories, 22% would like to know how to maximise sales, 11% would like suggested range advice, and 8% would like advice on category layout, such as planograms.

Consider the following

l Trips to c-stores are largely top-up and visit frequency to c-stores is increasing – suggesting that more consumers are top-up shopping “little and often”. Retailers visit frequency to depot could mirror their shoppers behaviour – little and often – therefore wholesalers will need to ensure availability at all times of the day.

l Retailers may want to consider range rationalisation in core categories to give more facings to faster sellers, and improve cash flow. Also, consumers usually think ranges have grown after rationalisations.

l Many supermarket chains are increasing the space given to own label, reducing the space given to brands. C-stores could pitch themselves as “the home of brands”.

l Trade on locality, local knowledge and flexibility to implement and exploit new opportunities.

l People will start working longer/extra hours – so longer store opening times (and all-day availability) may become more important to customers.

And when we look at specific categories

l Frozen foods – independent retailers need to exploit the growth in frozen foods (driven by a combination of factors: food lasts longer, less wasted product thrown away). Have wholesalers reviewed their range of frozen food to make sure that they have the must stock items?

l BWS – consumers are increasingly entertaining and drinking at home. BWS sales should not suffer too much providing local retailers keep product in stock, list key sellers, offer good deals, ensure beer is cold (offer “cold availability guarantees?”) and make product accessible (spirits). The wholesaler can help the retailer by stocking chilled lager and providing information on must stock items. Thirteen per cent of retailers tell him! they are not comfortable recommending a bottle of wine to customers. Is there enough sampling in the depot for retailers to try new products? Can the wholesaler offer advice on wine and food matching for the retailer to use in their store?

l Milk and bread availability guarantees are on the return – do something multiples won’t do – bread could become the main carbohydrate of the meal in some households. There aren’t many more staples than milk and bread, 14% of independent retailers wanted to purchase milk while at the depot but only 11% of retailers were able to – so should wholesalers also introduce milk and bread availability guarantees?

l Confectionery remains the most impulsive category – self treating will remain (and could possibly grow as recession looms).

l Cooking from scratch happens more during a recession. Sales of items such as mince meat, pasta and tomatoes have increased. Have retailers encompassed the range giving their shoppers the opportunity to purchase all meal components – are they merchandised together?

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