Future-proof your business

Are you taking steps to ensure your business has a healthy future?

The Partners for Growth Retailer Advisory Panel discussed the pressures that businesses face from rising rates, insurances and utilities bills.   The Panel talked about their own experiences and drew conclusions which they felt would be useful to all retailers to check that they are doing everything they can to maintain a profitable future.

Having visited a number of stores, the Panel reviewed some of the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them:


1.       Holding too much stock

Over-ranging is very commonly seen in stores – where there are many different versions of the same product, for example five different makes of pasta or seven different types of salt.  Whilst this does give shoppers choice, it does often tie up cash on shelf for long periods of time which is not good for business.  This can be the result of buying on promotion and seeing a deal which is ‘too good to miss’.  These deals really need to be evaluated on the basis of whether the products you are buying are actually products which sell well, and quickly, in your store now.  If not, the likelihood is they’ll sit on shelf or your stock room floor for months, tying up cash and space. 

Do it today: Apply the cost-saving tips you often see for shoppers such as make a shopping list and try to stick to it. 

 2.       Using EPOS as a glorified till

A large number of retailers find it hard to make the time to look at their sales by category and see whether these could be improved, or are in line with expectations.  EPOS systems should make it very easy to access this information.  If you don’t have EPOS, it is possible to devise methods of tracking sales which, whilst time-consuming, will help in the longer term.  However it is generated, this data is invaluable in stock-making decisions as well as analysing store profitability.

Do it today:  Pick a category which is relatively easy to assess, such as laundry, and see how much this makes in a week and which are the best selling products and compare this with the UK’s best sellers on partnersforgrowth.unilever.com They should be broadly the same. 

3.       Poor presentation

Everyone likes a pleasant shopping environment which makes products and prices easy to find, and gives the impression that the products stocked are of a good quality.  Shops that have little stock can leave the customer frustrated, whereas too much stock on the shelf or around the store can leave the customer overwhelmed.  It can also be a real shopper turn-off to see dirty floors and dusty shelves and this will have an impact on your profits.

Do it today:   Sweep the floors and check that the labels on all the products are facing the shopper

4.       Never reviewing your business plan

Every business should have a plan which sets out the ways in which you can judge whether or not the business is performing to expectations.  Setting financial and business goals can help drive further success by forcing you to look at ways these can be achieved.  As important in a business plan is considering whether you can ‘save a £1 rather than make £1’ so also look to your utilities, rates, insurances etc to see whether any savings can be made there. 

Do it today:  Review your financial goals for the business and assess whether you are on track to achieve them

5.       Not looking at what others are doing

Talk to other retailers, look at what’s good in their store and what you could change in yours as a result.   Even the Panel members are continually learning and taking the opportunity to listen to their peers.  We’d love to hear what you are doing in your store so if you want to share any of your tips, please email the Panel at challenge@partnersforgrowth.uk.com

Do it today: Go to a store nearby and find 3 things that they do differently and ask yourself if they are better or worse