Retail Alchemy, Winter 2017- Are small stores worth the effort?

Rhys Jones, Retail Alchemy 

It’s well documented that the continued change in shopper behaviour away from the traditional weekly shop toward more impulse driven, “distress” purchase has led to an explosion in the number of convenience stores within the UK.

Whilst this has been good for the shopper, it has made the job of the field team that bit more difficult: shopper visits to convenience stores are radically different to those of bigger formats in that they are more heavily focused an getting the product that fulfils an immediate need as opposed to being more pre disposed to browsing for products that they might want.

When combined with the often highly limited space available in these formats, brands and field teams alike find themselves extremely limited in terms of the types of intervention they can make, which inevitably leads to the question of if its worth visiting these stores at all.

A cursory look at the proportion of incremental sales value driven by the field team in small formats would seem to confirm this fact, with large formats such as Tesco Extra dominating the raw uplift achieved.


However, when equating the cost of time spent visiting these stores with uplift generated things become less clear cut. As you can see from the chart below, it’s not always the case that small formats, with less opportunity to intervene, deliver a poorer ROI than their larger format cousins. Indeed, the sheer scale of interventions that need to be made in some of the larger formats means that the cost of bringing the store up to scratch can often outweigh the benefit in doing so.


That’s not to say that field team success in small formats is guaranteed: rather, what’s needed is a sharper focus on the interventions that make it easier for the consumer to achieve their shopper mission when in store, moving away from the traditional focus on the generation of more incremental, discretionary purchases common to activity in the larger formats.