“In 10 years the multiples won’t have tills. We must keep ours.”
Shop of the Year was a triumph for all involved: the judges, the retailers and the organiser (that’s us).
But its gong-giving climax came with a rather unexpected bonus.
Along with all the Tweeting, Instagramming and other virtual stuff around the event, the revelation was (say it quietly) meeting and talking in a real room rather than a chat room.
Look at these testimonials that popped into my inbox after the event at No. 42 Southwark St, our London home.
“It was a great gathering of food shop people, and we put quite a few faces to email addresses and Instagram photos – such fun!”
“The final event was a great networking opportunity. It’s not often you get that number of retailers in a confined space from across the country, forced to talk to each other – a real opportunity going forward!”
The key word above is ‘forced’. It took a lot of arm-twisting to get some of those retailers out of their shops and on a train to London. But once they were there, they actually had a ball.
Fun, yes, but by the measure of the feedback it was also massively useful for swapping ideas.
At its simplest level, it’s just useful to get to know other independents. It can be a lonely trade. And we may have picked up some fresh retail blood to sit on our steering group.
There’s some useful stuff in the feedback given to all this year’s shortlisted shops by our judges and Insight6 mystery shoppers. Their hints, tips and constructive criticism will resonate with any deli or farm shop, and we’ll be sharing some of it here in Guild Talk in the coming months.
Some themes that leapt out at me: delis and grocers in London who seemed to love their locals more than a strange face; farm shops that just had too many lines (especially in cheese, it seems); a disappointing experience at the till.
In 10 years the multiples won’t have tills. You’ll pay via your phone as you cross the monolith’s threshold. We must keep ours. It’s not just your last chance to upsell; it lets you do something that, before long, the big boys clearly will not: talk to your customer.
To read more opinions from John click here.