Get Ahead in Supermarket Retail in 3 Quick Steps

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Get Ahead in Supermarket Retail in 3 Quick Steps

Now, more than ever before the one thing that retailers want to know is how to change the trading mindset from can’t and won’t to can and will. With sales dropping, food prices deflating and redundancies in head offices across the UK, it would appear that things are falling apart in the world of mainstream UK grocery.

I am no wizard of the commercial world, but I do know people. I know humans and shoppers, and after many years in the industry – I know what makes them tick. I have carried out in-depth analysis of the relationships between retailers, suppliers and shoppers and as a result, I’m able to offer the following 3 suggestions.


We Can and We Will

If you listen to the conversations going on between retailers and suppliers, you’re bound to hear an all too familiar refrain… it goes something like this:

Supplier: “We’ve got a great new insight that can drive your sales…”

Retailer: “Ah… we can’t do that, we won’t be allowed as it’s not corporate…”

And so on.

This is what needs to happen. The default mindset within trading has to be changed from can’t and won’t to can and will! Retailers – take heed! You need to stop telling your suppliers what they cannot do for you – flip it around so that the focus is on what they can do for you, and for your customers! Brands – be optimistic! Stop focusing on what the retailers won’t let you do and instead look at what is achievable and what will benefit everyone involved.


Buyer KPI’s

Are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) actually Key Prevention Indicators? We need to understand the challenges that modern buyers face if we want to optimise our trading relationships. What if the buyer’s KPIs are actually in opposition to our objectives, or even worse, to those of their own organisations? You hear retail bosses saying, “it’s all about the customer” – but look at their typical list of buyer KPIs. Is that what you really see?

Dave Lewis of Tesco said, “what I’m really trying to do at this point is try to get everyone to look through the eyes of the customer again”.

Asda overhauled its stores in Coventry and Grantham in an attempt to improve the big store shopping experience and Sainsbury’s claim to have refocused their goal to show their commitment to meeting customers’ needs. Morrison’s also weighed in on the subject stating, “we continue to provide those things that really matter to customers”.

It is clear that recent trading relationships have begun to appear more combative and less consultative, so – is the focus on a list of KPIs that may well be seriously out-dated? There have been major shifts in shopping habits and behaviour in recent years, and we need to make sure that our trading KPIs reflect these changes.


In-Store Marketing

In-Store Marketing has been affected immensely by trading relationships – just look at the ‘awareness generating’ activity that shoppers are bombarded with as they wander the aisles! As far as I’m concerned, way too much emphasis is being placed on the money allocated for In-Store Marketing, rather than the marketing activity itself.

Yes, spending money on shopper experiences, brand-building exercises and in-store theatre does work well, and the ROI for the retailer and the brand is often very positive, but there is a change in attitude. The focus is now very much on what the retailer can get from the supplier without rocking the boat too much in store.

The bottom line is that we need to find a way of rebalancing the vital relationship between economics and psychology in retail. At the moment, economists think that psychologist’s only study rats, pigeons, college students and ‘crazy’ people, and they are not rational human beings. Meanwhile, psychologists think that economists are stubborn creatures who cling to a rational model of mankind that they need to understand, which is obviously incorrect.

For more details on the power of psychology in retail, visit my website: or read my book ‘Shoppology, The Science of Supermarket Shopping’.


Phillip Adcock

Shopping Behaviour Xplained