Wholesalers to stress community benefits

Wholesalers are to be urged to step up their message to independent retailers that the more they become involved in their community, the more sales they will ring up.

Alan Toft, chairman of the My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign, said this philosophy should now be part of every independent’s business plan, but too many independents were missing out.

He said: “How can we persuade more independents to see that a community marketing programme (CMP) for their store is a norm – just like keeping the books, training the staff or cleaning the shop?”

Toft said one of the lessons to come out of MSYS and National Independents’ Day (NID) since the launch in 2004 was that many independents do not employ CMP in any way.

“In the case of sole traders or family run businesses where the owner-managers mingle with their customers socially, or live over the shop, the interface with the shopper is unique and should be used by all retailers.

“It’s a commercial matter. Sponsoring local soccer, donating prizes to old folks’ bingo, collecting for local charities and so on will bring more people into the shop. But this activity needs to be scheduled. We have case studies where shops succeed based on neighbourhood marketing.

“Multiple c-stores are very professional, but they are subject to disciplines set down by a remote head office. Their managers are professional but they are corporate servants. On the other hand independents, who are the wholesalers’ core customer base, are only subject to the community’s needs and human experiences which have a daily influence on local shoppers.”

Toft told ProWholesaler that awareness of CMP should be wholesaler driven. He said wholesalers and supportive suppliers might consider whether MSYS objectives should be redesigned to add a layer setting out to make CMP an industry standard.

“Wholesalers will want to see their own individual approach to CMP as a competitive advantage,” he added.

He suggested a retailer could add 10% to turnover with a well thought out CMP.

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