At our second MTJ Retail Excellence Panel last month, we uncovered three things that suppliers should stop doing to make their convenience activity more effective.

  1. Investing in single-use PoS

Suppliers have traditionally viewed PoS a way to help retailers drive sales of their products, while consolidating their position on convenience shelves. However, with every supplier now wise to the benefits of PoS and with the rising pressure to run more sustainable businesses, these materials are now seen by some retailers to be more trouble than they are worth.

Sophie Towers Kibble Bank One Stop“We get too much unrequested PoS,” says Sophie Towers, owner of Kibble Bank One Stop, Burnley, Lancashire. “We just get bombarded with it and it’s a lot of waste.”

That’s not to say that Sophie doesn’t see value in any PoS at all. However, suppliers need to think smarter about their long-term plans for the footprints they want to have in independent stores. “I’d like to see more beautiful, solid PoS that doesn’t get thrown away. It would be nice if it was more eco-friendly and had interchangeable bits and sides to put new promotions in,” she says.

“In the long run, it would cost suppliers less. It’d also mean they’d have a longer presence in store.”

  1. One-off in-store sampling campaigns

Offering products for retailers to sample is a great way to get customers trying your newest launches, but if you’re only providing enough for a single day of sampling activity in stores, then your investment will not have a lasting effect.

A single day of sampling is unlikely to benefit the retailer either. A freebie available in a store for one day may encourage bargain hunters to come from far and wide to visit, but that person is unlikely to ever return to a shop that’s far away and build it into their weekly routine. Too often, this means that the store is ultimately giving products out to people who will never come back, while their loyal customers are less likely to benefit.

Natalie Lightfoot Londis Solo ConvenienceNatalie Lightfoot, Londis Solo Convenience, Glasgow, has two pieces of advice suppliers should consider when launching sampling activity in future. Firstly, invest in enough stock for it to be a sustained and gradual effort. Secondly, link the free product to the sale of a relevant product. This helps the retailer drive sales from their regular customers, while ensuring your product goes to people who are interested in the category – beyond just getting things for free.

“We had a Strongbow Ultra Dark Fruit sample giveaway. It wasn’t the sort of thing people would drive from the other side of town for. But we gave it away to people buying beer or cider. We had it running for quite a while and replenished five more cases. It helped us to then stock Ultra because people tried it and liked it,” she says. “Sampling needs to be a more sustained activity to build that interest.”

  1. Expecting convenience space for nothing

Imtiyaz Mamode Wych Lane PremierImtiyaz Mamode, owner of Wych Lane Premier, Gosport, Hampshire, is a hard negotiator with suppliers. This is because he knows the value his store offers. Why should he offer his shop floor space for a product he’s not sure about? In tougher times, it’s a mentality that many retailers will have this year.

“We had a guy from a vaping brand come in. He told us it was a huge seller in America. I said to him: ‘If you give it me for free then I’ll give it a go in my store. If it works, I’ll keep it in.’

“They got back to me and told me they don’t do that. I told them I don’t do that either.”

If free stock of a new product isn’t possible, then sale or return is the very minimum that you should offer retailers. “It just gives you confidence it’ll work,” says Natalie. “At the end of the day, we know suppliers want that space on our shelf. We own it, we have to be stubborn about it.”

Conclusion

Suppliers can make significant profits through independent convenience tills, but the standard that retailers are expecting from their suppliers is rising, as is the standard customers are looking for.

Suppliers need to make sure they are investing intelligently for retailers to drive sales of their products. This means launching simple and sustainable offers and sales materials that have a longer-term benefit. 2023 is not the year to try dozens of complicated launches and find out what works – revert to simple, tried-and-tested mechanics.

These will enable your independent retail partners to do what they do best – use your products to grow sales from their loyal customers.

Get in touch for more advice on how to make your convenience strategy a success,