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You need to get out more

We’re lucky to work in the food industry. How many other industries are there where it’s so easy to see what our trade customers and competitors are doing? With the growth of on-line shopping and data providers like Brand View it’s not even necessary to leave the office. But for the sake of your health, as well as your business, please get out more and visit stores.


Visit more stores

But why? We’re all busy. Meetings to attend, customers to see, reports to write - surely you’re not going to learn much from visiting some stores. You’d be surprised. Why do companies like Innocent, Nestle and Pepsi have colleagues visiting stores to record changes, stock availability, compliance and build relationships? If you supply the supermarkets you’ll be disadvantaged if you’re not in stores at least once a week. This is a very fast moving industry. Prices change at the press of a button, promotions change frequently, new products are always being launched and stores don’t always wait for the range review to change their merchandising.

Your buyer visits stores regularly

A former Tesco colleague used to visit the same 8 stores (including competitors) every week. He was checking for the same things that he expected his suppliers to be checking: new products, new promotions, packaging changes, pack size changes, merchandising, shoppers’ behaviour at the fixture, etc. Retail really is detail and not all the details are visible on a computer screen.

You’ll be amazed how much you will learn in stores but do it properly. If you can, sign in at Reception, get a visitor’s badge (and give it back) and respect the fact that you’re in somebody else’s business. Most store colleagues are happy to talk (but avoid busy times) and they are worth listening to. They know what sells, when new products were listed, whether your product is a fast seller etc.

Of course we all have a busy schedule and limited time. But with a bit of planning, a Sat Nav and a commitment to see more stores, you’ll learn more about customers, competitors and your own business than you will from spending another hour in a meeting. And if you time it right, you should be able to justify a bacon sandwich in the in-store café.

Martin Sutherland, Commercial and Marketing Director

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Telephone: 02920 41 6306