American grocery retailers are facing more competition than they ever have before. However, in some places there’s room for expansion. For instance, a report released by The Food Trust stated that Colorado needs more grocery retailers so that residents don’t have to travel as far for fresh food. Regardless of competition, there’s always room for a superstar – a new or growing store that is a market leader. Succeeding at operating a grocery store requires attention to detail, foresight and hands-on leadership.
Careful Inventory Management
If you’re not careful, this is where you can bleed money. Having excess product on hand that you can’t sell or that goes bad before you can put it out is a waste of money. However, you don’t want to have so little product that you build a reputation as the store that’s always running out of things. Carefully track what you have on hand and monitor how much you’re selling. Use software or spreadsheets to organize the information and identify trends so you always have what you need.
Attracting Customers with Promotions
Successful grocery stores leverage promotions. They call consumers to action by placing ads that say “Huge sale this week only!” and releasing coupons. Vary your deals. Putting spice on sale may bring people in near Thanksgiving, while fruit may be a better option during summer. Work with suppliers ahead of time to coordinate stock, so you don’t run out. With any promotion you will need to weigh the money you lose discounting an item against how many more customers you will be bringing into the store.
Staff to Exceed Customer Expectations
An excellent staff is key to running a successful grocery store. Hire friendly people who will go above and beyond for customers. That might mean you will have to pay them a little more than you would otherwise, but the low turnover rates and returning customers will make it worth it. Cross-train employees so that stockers can help check people out when lines are backed up and cashiers can help stock when it’s slow. Consider uniforms or matching outfits so customers can easily identify employees, and for safety, require nonslip shoes.
Providing a Welcoming Environment
It’s important that you create a clean, welcoming environment so that customers keep coming back. Assign someone to carefully manage produce and remove any bad produce immediately. Keep bathrooms spotless and well-stocked, floors swept and check-out counters well organized. Cashiers should have towels on hand in case of any spills at the checkout.
Overall, cleanliness should be a high priority. You can also set up displays with products, which can help sales.
Be a Part of Your Community
Connect with your community. Sponsor clubs and events. Hold food drives. Make the first move by putting out bins and placing a few items of your own in them. Work with local nonprofits to donate food that you might throw out, but that is still good. Listen to what your community wants. Maybe there are a lot of vegans in your area who are being underserved, or maybe your community cares about buying local. The most successful grocery stores respond to what their communities need.