3 Ways to Take Control of Your Store

Geographically, most c-store customers have many options. Where they shop depends on what you offer, so as an owner or operator, you’ve got to have the right products and core items available.

“Research shows that for certain key categories, customers will leave a store that is out of stock on their brand to find one that isn’t out of stock,” says consultant Steve Montgomery, President of b2b Solutions LLC.

Rhonda Clary—an eMpowered Buying Group member and owner of Britton Gas N Grocery Inc. in Britton, MI.—finds that maintaining a high level of control over ordering personally helps her stay on top of any out-of-stock situations.

“I use a handheld system my grocery wholesaler provides and I can see how long a certain item took to sell through and when I ordered it last.”

“Keeping on top of data is an important piece of the puzzle,” says Montgomery. And he outlines three strategies to improving shelf management.

3 Ways to Fix SKU Gaps on Shelves:

  1. Follow the data trail. “Having the data is key,” says Montgomery, “whether internally generated or provided by a supplier, it’s essential to have it. It’s better to allocate the data based on sales than purchases.” Not all retailer information systems have that capability, so if you’re buying through a distributor, request a report that shows not only sales by category in dollar and units, but also ranks them from top to bottom.
  2. Delete. Use that data to determine what items should be deleted from your set. “Deleting items, discounting items, or even donating to charity is always a hard thing for a retailer to do,” admits Montgomery. “However, doing so frees up space to devote to the items that are selling or for new items that might sell.”
  3. Measure. One approach to figuring out space allocation is to measure sales per linear foot of shelf space. Montgomery says to start by determining the number of linear feet using the basic formula of length of shelving times the number of shelves. Next, divide the category’s sales by the number of linear feet to provide the sales per foot. Finally, use that information to determine if your store is over- or under-allocating shelf space to a category and adjust accordingly.
“In the end, what should drive a retailer’s product selection is what the customer wants, not what they or their supplier wants to sell,” says Montgomery.

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