Through store visits, events, roundtable discussions and phone calls, the team gains a wide variety opinions and views about the independent convenience channel. As the RN survey on supplier rep visits indicated, there is a wide difference in the face to face experience stores have with their suppliers.
From the Sussex village store that has rarely received visits from national brand reps, to the small number of influential independent retailers who are invited to be part of the industry panels that provide insight to big manufacturers and suppliers, there are a variety of engagement programmes that separate these types of businesses. The important challenge for suppliers is to ensure that each type of retailer appreciates what the purpose of the engagement is and what each party needs to do to maximise the opportunity and investment.
The most successful relationships in the channel are where both retailer and their supplier or manufacturer gain benefit and there is mutual respect. Where either the retailer or the manufacturer wants more than they are prepared to give, the opportunity to grow a long-term trusting relationship will be lost.
The key themes that engaged retailers are looking for support with to grow sales and profit are:
Advice on the best product to stock and range development;
New products and promotional guidance;
Help with increasing knowledge and training on regulatory changes;
Effective merchandising advice;
Case studies of what works with other retailers; and
Shared store sales data and how to leverage it.
So, what does good engagement look like and what does Newtrade do to help make this happen?
Newtrade runs a wide variety of activities across its events, in print with RN and Retail Express, and online with betterRetailing.com.
The Newtrade events team works with brand owners and suppliers throughout the year, delivering successful face-to-face engagement with retailers, from projects in individual stores and the Local Shop Summit, which attracts store owners from across the UK to network and learn, to the Independent Achievers Academy (IAA) – the industry-leading business development programme in the independent convenience channel.
Launched in 2006, the IAA provides manufacturers and suppliers with the opportunity to engage with independent convenience stores that have a desire to improve their businesses. The IAA journey starts with the Retail Study Day and the launch of the IAA Benchmarking Guide, moves through Academy in Action in-store visits that bring IAA category partners and retailers together in search of best practice solutions, and culminates in a Gala Dinner, where the best retailers join suppliers and industry leaders for an evening of celebration and networking.
Neli Dicheva, Newtrade content producer, says: “We offer continued engagement for the brand owner, and active participation in retailers’ business development. We’re able to see measurable results that the engagement has.”
In print, through both paid-for and free titles, editorial content delivers news about supplier and brand activity to retailers, as well as a wealth of shared knowledge from the supply side of the industry. This leads through to betterRetailing.com, which is a treasure trove of content from RN and Retail Express, as well as articles that can only be found on betterRetailing.com.
RN, the only paid-for weekly trade press title exclusively aimed at independent retailers, leads the print side of the business offering many ways of delivering visible engagement. The retailers who invest in the magazine every week are supplied with the news and advice they need to grow their profit – in every issue they get ideas that add real value to their business. It exclusively delivers an audience of engaged and business-savvy retailers to manufacturers.
Jack Courtez, editor (news), says: “RN is the go-to magazine for insight, analysis, news and category advice for the convenience channel, with news and insight that is not available anywhere else. I know my team and I have an important role in supporting suppliers and retailers in our industry.”
Both RN and Retail Express aid supplier engagement by reporting on new products and ideas, which regularly brings requests from retailers to get in touch with the manufacturer. For all brands, and particularly those that don’t have a field force, they act as a conduit to support the engagement that retailers are looking for. They talk about the big issues that confront the convenience channel, and bring in the manufacturers that are market leaders to advise. They play a significant role in helping to raise standards in the product categories that are covered by regulatory restrictions. They engage with leading manufacturers to ensure that the best advice can be shared and boast the highest retailer engagement levels in the market.
A key difference in the way Newtrade provides information to retailers is in the skill of its team to understand trade press releases and press further. They break down brand owners’ messages and contextualise the information for retailers. When retailers want more information, they phone Newtrade because it is the trusted voice in the industry.
Chris Dillion, editor (insight), adds: “We have created a community of retailers that brand owners and suppliers can invest in confidently, knowing they will benefit from the engagement. Suppliers that work with us will see their message fly.”