Sunday 22 April 2012

Grouping Stalls – The Case For

The one issue that alienates me from many of my fellow traders is grouping like stalls together in the market a bit like shopping centres do. I know that this issue is discussed with great emotion whenever it is raised but I think we need to debate it as we, hopefully, move on to “regenerating” the QVM.
There are two good reasons for grouping like stalls together –
1.       It is much more convenient for customers. Today’s retailing is all about convenience. We build huge sprawling shopping centres to give customers as much choice as possible. We build equally large carparks around them to make access as easy as possible. We install transport systems to achieve the same result. We put our goods on websites so shoppers can pre-browse, and when they arrive we give them a choice of payment methods, pack their goods in a carry bag and give them our contact details so they can contact us down the track to buy more goods or raise any problems with their purchase.  It is all about convenience. Shopping centres have grouped like shops together for many years. They argue that, if a customer wants to buy a fashion shirt they shouldn’t have to walk from one end of the shopping centre to the other to compare prices, ranges and fittings. Time is money and sometimes shoppers need to be able to focus their shopping journey. It doesn’t stop them browsing the aisles if they wish but if time is important, they have a convenient alternative.
2.       It is more profitable for retailers. In retail location theory, Nelson (1958) first showed that the tendency of retail clustering is based on the theory of Cumulative Attraction and the Principle of Compatibility. In his research, the theory of cumulative attraction suggested “…a given number of stores dealing in the same merchandise will do more business if they are located adjacent or in proximity to each other than if they are widely scattered”. This theory has been tested and added to over the years but it appears to be the core reason why modern shopping centres continue to group like traders together. If grouping creates more business it also sustains higher rents for shopping centre owners.

The main argument against trader grouping seems to be that it works against customers walking the whole market and therefore giving every trader a chance at their piece of the pie. To me, that is a bit like saying to customers “You might have already decided what you want to buy, but we are going to make you walk the whole market anyway”. Grouping does give customers the option of running in and running out again a bit like the fresh food customers do to the detriment of general merchandise. However, forcing them to walk further than necessary may just make it easier for them to choose other shopping centres. Of course we make this process even worse by changing stall positions each day.

A few more points –
1.       Asking customers to walk the whole market (I’m not talking about browsing tourists here) is a bit like asking modern shopping centre shoppers to go back to the strip shops. We have moved on. Time is money.
2.       I’ve heard it said that we would remove the “adventure” aspect of the market if we grouped stalls and made shopping too predictable. If customers have plenty of time to spend I don’t see how grouping upsets their shopping. But, if they are in a hurry, or simply have better things to do, that “adventure” becomes an irritation.
3.       Competition between traders could improve market presentation. Imagine if our much-maligned ladies fashion stalls (“all the same stock”) were grouped together – they would need to find ways to be different either through merchandising, product concentration, innovation or price.

Grouping doesn’t have to be extreme. We don’t have to have all shoes stalls together, for instance, in the one aisle. Grouping may mean a core group of like traders with associated traders around them. By working together, they create a new dynamism to their area. It may be a group of jewellery traders linked with other fashion accessory stalls like scarves or hats.

Essentially, grouping like traders together is putting the customer first. Please comment.

19/04/2012 23:08:39 "Not sure what I think just yet, but her's what Messrs. Akehurst and Alexander think based on their study of 'tenant placement' in shopping centres:
However, when all the customer linkages between all the outlets are collapsed into a single compatibility table ( where an index of 100 represents a neutral relationship), one overwhelming conclusion is apparent. By far the strongest links occur when similar types of outlet, such as outfitters or food shops, are found in close proximity. In fact, the extent of customer interchange among compatible, propinquitous establishments is half as much again as that between dissimilar, geographically dispersed outlets. Further, it is substantially greater than that between similar, spatially separated shops and contrasting outlet types in close proximity.
Although this finding is a striking confirmation of the ‘match’ as opposed to ‘mix’ school of tenant placement, it does not hold for every trade type. As figure 3 indicates, convenience outlets and comparison goods retailers appear to benefit substantially from propinquity. Service establishments, on the other hand, do not possess a positive compatibility index. If anything, they seem to enjoy a greater degree of customer interchange when located adjacent to similar shop types.
Somewhat surprisingly perhaps, Figure 3 also suggests that convenience retailers benefit more form proximity than their comparison goods counterparts. As noted earlier, comparison goods are usually held to involve extensive shopping around, while convenience goods are routine, low involvement purchases. Thus, in theory at least, spatial proximity should have a greater influence on the former than the latter. This counter-intuitive finding, however, is largely due to the crudeness shopper behavior and tenant placement within planned centres, it is nevertheless possible to draw some general lessons from the above observation study... the findings highlighted the key, customer generating role of the magnet stores and secondary attractors. The location of these outlets relative to each other and the entry points are thus crucial... the rule would appear keep the magnets apart but not too far apart. Closely related... was the dramatic evidence of the advantages that accrue from placing compatible outlets in close proximity. Whether it be convenience outlets, fashion retailers or purveyors of household goods, the... study clearly demonstrates that the volume of customer interchange is vastly increased when a ‘match’ rather than a ‘mix’ approach to tenant placement is adopted. "                   

20/04/2012 1040 Ed: Ouch! Would whoever posted the comment above please give us a translation? I've read it three times and I think it agrees with the premise of the main article but now my head hurts.

20/04/2012 10:50:40 We have an example of grouping right on our doorstep - meat, fish, deli, fruit & vegetable.
21/04/2012 20:27:13 "Let's keep in mind that sopping center have somthing we don't.
This could solve a customers problem.
Let us think? Mmm an information both in the center way
of the market!!

24/04/2012 12:07:46 "I am very much based in favour of grouping similiar  stalls together assuming we are a shopping centre. we are terms of an adventure i think most people think it as tiresome over duplicated and boring only after two aisles..the problem at the moment we have two many of the same. in a shopping centre they can be distinguished by brand and target market.' A GOOD BETTER BEST TYPE "" SYSTEM. which the market needs to adopt ..thus based on what robert Doyle is saying about cutting the general merchandise section this could be achieved once the offer is cleaned up and only the best traders in terms of experience capital outlay , presentation and service remain""
Grouping will only work once the best stalls remain and others be attempted to come in once some vacancies remain..
People need to understand the quality needs to be increased and the quantity decreases."  

25/04/2012 11:30:24 when can we start!!  
25/04/2012 12:51:51 "The reason that the issue ""grouping like stalls together"" arouses such an emotive response and tends to alienate most Traders from your views is that this concept raises many more problems than it attempts to solve.
Traders rightly, take their standing places and their positions as well as their standing rights extremely seriously. '
Many traders have occupied the same location for decades or generations and enjoy return busines - local, regional, interstate and overseas.this is called""good will""
 Stallholders have in most instances  'worked' in the market for many years first as casuals achieve the standings finally allocated to them.
The current allocation process using seniority of service and days traded  is probably the best system so far achieved.
Now that stalls may be sold,it is obvious  the position of stalls is an essential aspect of  saleability and price.
What of the 5 Stall Convention [rule}, traders are working in open standing walls no doors !  and this convention has operated for many obviously good reasons and benefits.
Grouping   'like stalls together'  presents many problems not the least being:

 -    vastly increased  friction between traders (competitors), 
 -    difficulty  developing and maintaining original ranges and ideas for even a  short time  due to constant unavoidable surveillence by adjacent competitors resulting in greatly diminished diversity of range (one of the present STRENGTHS of the Market).
Difficulies in defined presentation and clear deliniation of each trader's individual  display.

26/04/2012 08:47:03 "So if I understand the thrust of your proposal ,you want the Traders to debate
wthether they want to keep their current.Permanent stalls and locations .with the existing customer  traffic flow that they know and understand [which has been operating 100 plus years]  .
AlternativleyTraders could argue that they want to be removed from their current permenent stalls and locations and that all the stalls be realocated to different locations and"" all like stalls grouped together: No guarantee that it would be better most unlikely I would warrant,could be a little bit disruptive, maybe a little bit stressful too initially while waiting to see where they put you ,be a few nights sleep lost there ,probably need a new setup too,better look good you will be right up against your competition $ ,1,000 should do it unless your adjacent competitor  spends $10,000. Of course setting up right next to your direct competitors might have some disadvantages unless your the predator with lots of capital. The close proximity would certainly make things more interesting, competing traders could see into each others businesses and watch their neighbours selling like products talk about hightened stress.  Trafic flow would change ??  Some traders could see a lot less customers, but there have to be some casualties  .cant make omelets without breaking eggs  ,people would not have to walk through the market any more  they would just get what they want and leave. But wait 60 to 70% of GM traders are tourists and they claim that they enjoy the market as it is they actually come specially and some times spend several days  they claim to relish the differnt ,unique shopping experience .
  So have i got that right - these are some of the issues that traders should debate.   Oh   and who would do the stall realocations for the whole market? Not a problem there is cetainly no shortage of trust among traders for Managment, ,everyone would certainly be looked after of that we can be suure.
   There may be a few cynical people who may feel that this or similar like  propposals are a mishchevious  and dishonest  and attempt to remove the only real encumbrance to developing the land that the market sits on, that is first move the traders from their Permenant stalls that they have legal rights to, ,then place them in unsustainable positions with changed traffic flow in a destabilised market and let natural competitive attrition do the rest.  .Afterwards they can say we did our best to bad, the land will be there still and largley unencumbered.THE lord mayers recent
proposal to make fruit &veg 70%of market could be also viewed cynically as another way of creating an unsustainble situation eventual collapse and access to land and development they use the term"" enhancement"". Fortunately I am  not cynical after many years in market & trust mangament & Lord Mayor unequivocallly.   I know implicitly that they would never  put mega profits before the welfare of Traders 'Yes lets engage in this worthwhile debate   Traders should not view that someone is being use as aJjudas goat to lead every one to where thy want them.  .No we just have to debate this we have nothing else to do working 60to 80 hours a week is nothing .after we have all decided how we will reorganize the market ,should not take long' nothing to it, we already have one study from 1959 how did we manage till now/?oh look its 2.30 in the morning oh what this fun this is ""one more thing to think about"" , and we still havn't even started to turn the market inside out yet, I  wonder if that will be a lot of work.   Suppose the people who gave us this debate  intend to help us with that, .  one wonders what other things we could debate - maybe why does Ikea use a strange maketing stradegy.  They let the customers in at the entrance and they have to go right through the whole store almost.past all the stock only at the other end can they leave at the register,they probably dont have acces to our high level  marketing advice wonder how they manage?  POSIBLY BECAUSE IKEA OWNS ALL THE STOCK and wants to sell it &they re not triyng to get smaller ,that must be it.
In the future we could debate what   is the right number of holes in a human head."                   

To continue, another point of concern re grouping of like stalls would be the level of predatory competition thus reducing the number of stalls by attrition thus further removing range and choice
The idea of everybody chucking their stalls back in the middle to be reallocated - for whatever dubious benefit  of posssibly making it easier for locals to shop when they make up 20 - 30% of GM customers is very scary and could be dangerous to the survival of the market as the world famous institution it is today.  Think of the extra stress and upheavel such changes would cause (stall structures, fittings etc. and stock lines).

It would be interesting to know where this idea originates?
I certainly do not want to stand in the way of progress - but I think it essential that the progress incorporates within it a market which is as great as the one we already have.
I believe this very important issue warrants serious consideration and  comments from as many traders as possible  ie do traders want to be grouped with lilke traders (ie competitors together)  or do you want to leave the market very much as it it is but with improvements.   


27/04/2012 15:45:21 Here here to the above 2 comments!!

28/04/2012 08:09:05 I thought the goats name was Azazel?

28/04/2012 19:38:48 "Personally l don't like the idea of grouping the stalls based on what items you sell. The shopping centres l have visited over the years, do have some grouping, l admit that, but that is generally for the food, via a food court, and clothing. 
I do not recall seeing all the Jewellery shops, music shops, electrical goods, or even banks being located next door to each other.
I think you will find it comes from necessity that the clothing shops appear to be grouped together, but l feel this is also more a case of they are the majority of shops you will find in any shopping centre.
Something else that these shops have over the market, that will not effect their business in the way it would stallholders, is that these shops are generally part of much larger organisation, and have a brand name to support them, and if one store is not doing aswell as another, then it can be offset the organisation. In a lot of cases, the big chains keep shops open in low performing centres, for the simple fact, it keeps there brand name in front of customers eyes.
We are talking about regenerating the the GREAT QVM, but l think we need to acknowledge the following first, from both the a stall holder point and the Market Office.
I think we need to look at ways of increasing the customers that are attending the market. The market aisles these days are showing signs of a decreasing number of customers. If we look back 15 to 20 years, the aisles were so full of people, you were walking shoulder to shoulder, and just moving at a slow pace, due to the sheer volume of potential customers for every stall holder.
I also feel that we do need to look at the general merchandise section of the market. I regularly hear customers comment that it appears to be the same products from aisle to aisle. What is required to stop these thoughts by customers, l am not sure, but it is a valid point, if we are hearing it from our customers."