I have spent hours installing IT Retail’s software at grocery stores, supporting the software, and improving the software, during which I have had continual interaction with grocery professionals. My education is in marketing and my blood is entrepreneurial so I am constantly assessing businesses, looking for key factors that make businesses succeed as well as factors that cause businesses to fail. Below is what I would like to consider the creed of the grocery industry. If you follow these points you will succeed:
- Location, Location, Location – The location of your grocery store will either make or break you. It is all too often that a grocer finds an awesome deal on a piece land makes a purchase, digs deep into their pocket to build a grocery store, and then finds that hardly anyone wants to drive out of their way to visit their store. How does one avoid this? Know how many grocery stores are in the surrounding region and do research to find out how busy the other stores are (a good way is to look at their parking lots). It is all about knowing your environment, knowing the need, and meeting the need. The majority of consumers in America do their grocery shopping based on connivence.
- Know your demographics — and target them. Many times we do our best to place ourselves in the shoes of the people in our demographic but our ability to empathize with them, to see things through theirs eyes is quite limited. So my advice would be hire a professional that would break down your demographic into elementary and practical steps that you can take, such as: price, aesthetics, employees, bathrooms, shopping carts, signs etc.
- Hire great employees — Hire them on these 5 categories: aptitude, attitude, intelligence, intensity, and integrity. Your employees have THE MOST significant impact on whether or not a customer returns to your store. They are your number one marketing tool so make sure you choose wisely. And also do not be afraid to fire a bad or negative employee, as they will lower the moral of the entire store. A rule I heard a few years back and which I still believe is an indicator of a good manager is: “hire slow, fire fast“.
- Make your employees proud — to work for your grocery store. Use motivation techniques, give them special benefits, have competitions, make it a place where people brag to their friends that they work there. When your employees are proud of their work place then they’re not only working for your store at work but also when they are not a work (promoting the store to their friends). Do your best to keep the moral high, go out of your way to say hi, to see how they are doing, to make sure that everything at home is fine etc.
- Use Customer Loyalty programs — to keep customers coming back to your store. Your grocery point of sale system should allow the manager to target specific customers, and give those customers customized discounts according to their buying patterns. This type of personal marketing fosters a more intimate relationship between the store and the consumer. All the big grocery stores are doing it.
- Participate in Web Marketing — Jump into social media, create a good website with a blog, and make a name for yourself. Encourage your customers to follow, like, promote you online. Here are several important websites that you should be on: Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. All of these websites are free so don’t wait, get on them and start promoting your store.
- Be responsive to your customers — In order to be responsive you need to know what your customer wants, so get up out of the office and walk around on the floor looking to make personal connections with your shoppers. Have a pen and paper and jot down any suggestions, complaints, or concerns. Compile a list of suggestions and see what your staff thinks, then implement the best suggestions.
- Evaluate your pricing daily — Find out which items are not selling well and lower the prices of these products. Also with those products that sell really well, you need to carefully analyze why customers are buying that product, to ensure that if you raise the price they will still buy it.
- Lower operating “costs” —To increase your profit margin you must lower your cost. Even if you are raking in a profit, always look for ways you could be losing money, ways you could save, ways you could make more money. This is where you will get that extra money to open that next store. Lighting, Air-conditioning, closed food storage, coffee machines, POS systems can be optimized to lower your overall operating cost. Supervalu does a good job at this – take them as a pattern.
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Author: Luke Henry
Luke Henry is a Project Manager of Retail Next – a cloud-based POS solution for specialty grocers. He has over 10 years of experience in the grocery POS space and is committed to delivering solutions that enable independent grocers across the world to compete against the grocery conglomerates.