Sunday 8 November 2015

The Simple Answer To Our Trading Dilemma

A frustrated trader came to me yesterday and said “There is a simple answer to this terrible state of business – they {management} just need to bring us more customers. We need more advertising.” Getting more customers past our stalls is indeed the answer, and advertisers would love the connection, but in reality we need to do a whole lot more than just advertise. Is there really a simple answer?

I am going to do a dangerous thing – I am going to delve into the past. We know that the past has limited relevance in the current retail revolution but for illustration purposes it will be useful. Why was QVM so popular as a retail destination in past decades?
1.     Price – many of us were buying directly off wholesalers at cash prices and undercutting main street retailers by a wide margin. And that applied to both food and specialty merchandise.
2.     Convenience – we were open on weekends when customers wanted to shop.
3.     Many of us were supplying goods that were not commonly available in mainstream retailing.
4.     Brick’n’mortar stores and stalls were the only way to shop. You had to go shopping to get the goods you wanted.

I am sure you have filled in the blanks –
1.     We are now price challenged by retailers who source direct from local growers and overseas factories.
2.     Ironically we are now seen as being out of touch with customer who want to shop at all hours.
3.     Sourcing unusual products is now more difficult. (Note – this might be why artisan traders will become more important for QVM – creating that point of difference.)
4.     Retailing is no longer just about bricks’n’mortar.

The reality is that the point of difference between us and our retail competitors is much finer. We no longer have the huge advantages that we used to have. We have to be much better at all the other small things that make up success – in football talk it is called working on all “the one percenters.” Many traders are working hard at this.

So is there a quick fix? - probably not. No matter how you look at it, bringing QVM forward is going to take a lot of work in a lot of areas. Dragging in more customers through advertising has little relevance if they are going to be disappointed with the offer when they get here. We need to be a magnet that attracts them. Customers need to come here because we do retailing better than anybody else by offering a variety of well-priced goods, at convenient times, in convenient ways, with an element of entertainment. And that comes down to each individual business working hard and developing an attitude of excellence. There are a number of traders in our market who achieve that – we just need a lot more (and maybe less of those who don’t want to make the effort or are involved in over-represented product categories).

One aspect of retailing that hasn’t changed since the good old days is that a strong entrepreneurial spirit will see some retailers rise above the pack. Maybe that is the only simple answer for the future.

Greg Smith – QVMAC Trader Representative.

Have Your Say - click here.

08/11/2015 13:58:51 The Simple Answer To Our Trading Dilemma "Greg's comments are well considered and on the money.
The elephant in the room though is the  unrealistic rents the lock up shops are signed up to.  Anyone would think we traded 7 days a week, rather than for a few productive hours each week.
If the market opportunity has diminished and traders are expected to be innovative, management MUST realise that expecting rents equal to what many retail shops pay outside of the market is unrealistic.  

The core issue is traffic. Rents must reduce until traffic improves, if it does.  High rents are contributing to the closure of shops.  How about looking after existing traders as well as  doing deals to get replacement tenants into empty shops ?" Realist.