Our winner: life and times
Wendy Morrell – Scottish Grocer Merchandising Award winner 2013 – in association with P&G
Symbol: Best-one Size: 800 sq ft
Opening hours: 7.30am-7.30pm Mon-Sat, 8am-1pm Sun
Staff: Two full time and four part time
Period at store to date: 14 years
• Wendy has her Mum to thank for her career path. It was her Mum (who worked in retail) that noticed the village Post Office was up for sale and suggested Wendy buy it.
• The Merchandising Award was Wendy’s second accolade in the 2013 Awards. The shop also took the prize as Scottish Grocer Bread and Milk Retailer of the Year.
• In her 14 years at the store it has been through three major refits. The first, in 2003, extend the shop floor area. The second, in 2008, changed the Post Office to an open plan counter. The third, in 2012, included the installation of a large open-deck chiller.
• Wendy and her family – children Adam and Lucy and husband Malcolm – raise funds through the store to help children at a school in Kenya. They started the collection after a family holiday in that country. The money helps the children get an education and at least one hot meal a day.
SOME say size isn’t everything. And the winner of Scottish Grocer’s 2013 Merchandising Award – run in association with P&G – Wendy Morrell, was certainly proud that her 800 sq ft store showed that a little outlet can merchandise as well as any outlet.
In fact, the owner of the Best-one store and Post Office in the Dunbartonshire village of Cardross thinks more small stores should rise to the challenge and enter the annual awards.
“At first I was thinking there’s no way I would win,” she said.
“But I’ve shown that a small shop can do it. There must be plenty of good ones out there.”
Wendy bought the store in 1999 when it was doing just £300 a week. Nowadays that figure is closer to £12,000.
Knowing her customers has been key to Wendy’s success. Born in nearby Dumbarton, Wendy grew up in Cardross village. She understands the local community because she’s been very much a part of it.
“Our customer base is a good spread across a variety of ages and demographics,” she said, “but it is a fairly affluent village so it’s known brands that do well here. Customers like premium products. I have tried stocking more own-brand products but they just don’t sell.
“The store is about 80% bestsellers and 20% other products, such as new lines or own-brand. And it works since, because of the size we are and the space we have, we have to be so careful in what we stock.”
The store is very carefully planned and presented. When customers enter the store they see bread and milk immediately – and the team works hard to ensure availability of daily essentials is excellent. Chillers and fresh produce are at the back of the store, it helps ensure customers see all of the store on most visits. In the first aisle an extensive range of biscuits and cakes takes up the majority of the shelves. Confectionery and snacks are situated in the middle aisle.
One of her main aims is to cater to customers looking for a quick fix at mealtimes.
“Merchandising is all about making things easier to find. And there’s no point stocking pasta if you don’t have the mince to make the bolognaise,” she said.
“A lot of the time Best-one has multi-buys with three products that make a meal. We group them together using point-of-sale material to direct the customer to each product, or put them all together in the fridge or on a gondola end.
“I use planograms for every part of the store but tweak them slightly as I know certain things won’t sell. Best-one have them available for every section on their website but I use P&G’s Shelfhelp for the household, beauty and laundry displays.”
The store’s health and beauty section is organised using P&G’s planogram, with a couple of Wendy’s own ideas added in.
“Health and beauty used to be along the wall,” she said. “I moved it on to the last aisle, brought the shelf space down from 5m to 2.6m and reduced the range but the sales went up. As much as I’ve reduced the range by about 35% the sales went up by about 40%.”
Providing enough options, not too few but certainly not too many, stocking the right products (in demand, known and trusted), putting items in the right location and featuring price-marked packs, are merchandising techniques that work well, and consistently so, for Wendy.
Things haven’t always clicked into place at the first attempt, however. Milk was moved to its current prominent position on the top right of the chiller, within clear sight of the entrance, and sales went up. On her laundry shelves Wendy had at one time carried just two washing powders – it is a small shop, space is very tight. But when she widened the washing powder range, overall sales of household items, not just laundry lines, improved.
“It’s a case of trial and error,” she said.
“If I was trying something out, I’d analyse how much space it’s taking up and what the weekly sales figures are for it. That would decide whether I keep it or not. If it wasn’t selling I’d not even keep it a month.”
Having owned the Cardross store for 14 years, Wendy is now looking to hang up her Best-one jumper and sell the business. But she hopes the new owner will carry on the careful merchandising work in the award-winning store.