What Can You Learn From a Group of Farm Retailers?

Written by John Stanley

I have just finished speaking at the FARMA Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. This conference was a mix of a tour, trade show and conference and was an opportunity to study retailing in this sector. Prior to the conference I walked Princess Street, possibly the main retail street in Scotland. I was hoping to get inspired, but alas, each retailer was promoting their sale and each shop looked as uninspiring as the next. Then, I joined the farm retail tour and came across a passionate group of retailers who wanted to make a difference.

This was an excellent conference and one where all retailers could have picked up new ideas.

My top ten ideas from the conference are as follows:

  • Capital does not mean more sales

The tour looked at a selection of retailers; some had injected large amounts of capital whilst others had not. Yet, the return per square metre or foot for nearly all the retailers was around the same. Yes, you have to get the basic investment right to create the sale, but in today’s tougher retail environment over investing in expensive buildings does not automatically mean that sales per given area will increase. The message is invest enough money to make the model work

  • Get the basics right

All the retailers who got the basic s right were performing around the same level. Paco Underhill, the retail expert on how we buy mentioned recently that getting the customer floe w wrong could cost a retailer two dollars a sale. We saw one example of where a flow was wrong and it clearly proved that Paco was right. Get the flow wrong and it costs you dearly

  • Tell the story

I accept it easier for a farmer to tell a story than most retailers, but those that put the story together can increase their sales. Story telling is a key point of difference in retailing. Identify your dory and communicate it to the customer

  • The team can grow the sales

Make sales training fun, measure the results and grow sales. Sally Benson, one of the delegates increased sales of selected products by 354% .How? The team selected a product and developed an in-house marketing campaign to grow the sales. There was a prize for the team who created the most sales. All the team excelled and enjoyed the competition and the fun of developing the extra sales. Product knowledge taring can be boring. Make it fun and grow sales.

  • Promote your values at the entrance to your business

Are you local, are you a family business, are you selling local products. Many independent businesses fail to get this message across, they assume that all the consumers know there values. Yet when I visited a large nation chain, they promoted a local message at their entrance. Consumers need to know your values when they enter your store.

  • Management need to make sure the team stay positive

One of the presenters was Darrell Woodman who presented on the art of being Brilliant, he revealed that research indicated that 98% of people are in the less that happy mode most of the time whilst only 2% are in the happy mode. As a leader you influence the behaviour of your team. Happy people make the sale His point is that you choose to be positive; you need to understand the impact you have on the team and you need to take responsibility. Growing sales is down to attitude

  • Have a “banning” letter

Not everyone who comes into your store will be honest, according to Simon Winchester of Shoppers Anonymous the stealing percentage mix is as follows:

- 25% of thieves steal by accident and return the product
- 60% steal be accident and do not return the product
- 15% are deliberate stealers

If you want to ban a customer, make sure you have a prep reared banning letter that you can hand to the customer. It makes life so much easier.

  • Sell by date or enjoy by date

Is It a “Sell by Date” or an “Enjoy by Date”. I love the idea of an “Enjoy by Date” that Loch Leven Lauder use. The use of simple words in a more positive way can put a smile on the face of your customer.

  • We change our wallpaper with the seasons

One of the top retailers in the world is Zara, the fashion clothing company from Spain and I often use them as an example as they have created 24 seasons in their stores. How do they do that?, they change the wall paper, they change the sightlines so the store looks different every two weeks. This is a simple strategy that has worked well for his company. The principle applies to all retailers. It was fun to see a farmer believe his success was based on changing the wall paper to create the theatre. Something many retailers have forgotten.

  • Make a decision or act on a decision

The above quote is from the UK TV personality Dick Strawbridge .It is simple yet how often is it not implemented. In a changing world everyone needs to act on decisions made.