Delivering loyalty and community retailing

It’s not often I see something in our sector that truly makes my jaw drop. I’ve done this job for a while now, and for the most part great convenience retailing is about executing the fundamentals, realising marginal efficiency gains, implementing lots of small innovations and showing respect towards your colleagues and customers. Retailers who do this are inspiring, for sure, but it’s rare that I see something really new.

In the middle of June we ran a study tour in Edinburgh and Fife and the quality of all the stores was extremely high - I’d particularly pick out David Sands’ store in Kirkcaldy and its brilliant food to go offer. Just up the road from there we saw Faraz Iqbal and Premier Linktown, another terrific store cramming lots of innovation into a small area. I learned a lot there from talking with Gary, an ex-Amazon driver who’s now employed full-time by Faraz to deliver orders in Kirkcaldy and beyond. As well as explaining the business and operating model, what stood out to me was how the service Gary operated was about community retailing. He didn’t just deliver products, he delivered a social touchpoint for customers who didn’t see many other people in the day, and once in a while he was called upon to support elderly customers by changing a lightbulb or taking out the rubbish.

A couple of days later I visited Mandeep Singh at his store in Teynham, Sheffield. Mandeep had talked about the success of his delivery service at the ACS Summit in April, so I was excited to see it in action. And it blew my mind. Just as the Friday afternoon rush started - this was a very hot day, children were spilling out of school and it had been a busy store all day long - the orders started pouring in. I was standing by the hand held console that printed out the orders, and I couldn’t help look at the total value of each delivery. Every one started with a 2. Then I started to see some starting with 3s, 4s and even 5s. I don’t know how many orders the store took by the end of the day, it must have totalled well over a hundred, and the value (and margin, orders commonly included slush drinks and other higher margin products) would have been eye watering.

But that’s not the main thing I learned from this. On the way to the store Mandeep was talking about delivery alongside two words: loyalty and community. Once I saw it in action it all made sense. These customers were choosing the convenience and service of deliveries from Mandeep’s store over (in some cases) three or four stores that were closer to them.

None of this is to say that offering a delivery service is necessarily right for everyone, and I’ve probably been among the more sceptical about whether retailers who stepped in to delivery to isolating and vulnerable customers during the Covid pandemic can turn that into a sustainable service. It’s certainly an operational challenge that Faraz (who employs Gary full-time) and Mandeep (who works with a number of self-employed drivers) meet in different ways. Picking orders is a full-on job especially in a busy store and Shelley and the rest of Mandeep’s team are the sort of experienced and diligent colleagues that can handle a workload that could overwhelm some.

All I’m saying is this: think about delivery in terms of driving loyalty and extending your community retailing offer, and see where that takes you.

This entry was posted by Chloe on Mon, 20/06/2022 - 16:50