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Tracy West: Shop Talk
09 June, 2017

Most independent businesses trade on their personal service knowing their regular customers, chatting to them and generally keeping them happy. But what about recommendations? This is something I think more independents should do more of.

Book shops (I know there are very few left, unfortunately) often have recommendations from staff along the lines of "Jo loved this. She couldn't put it down and says if you liked such and such a book you'll love this too". I know many of you will recommend wine to customers but what about some smartly written cards in the wine section with messages such as "Craig says this goes really well with fish"?

And what about suggesting cocktails or mocktails? If you don't want to go to the trouble of getting anything printed, just one cocktail recipe on a blackboard would do as most of your shoppers will have smart-phones and can just take a snap, grab the ingredients and head off home for a refreshing tipple.

Then there are food recipes to consider. People, generally, are trying to eat more healthily but sometimes need some inspiration. Recipes can do this and it's great to see that Costcutter is including tear-off recipe cards in its pos for its own brand.

All this sort of thing adds to that all-important shopper experience.

Of course, many retailers train their staff in 'upselling' which can sometimes verge on being just downright pushy. But if staff are talking 'recommendation' rather than 'upsell' it can work. I can't bear the checkout staff in Sainsbury's talking to me about my shopping because I can't wait to escape and get out of the store but... in my local shop or garage forecourt it's typically a bit more relaxed and I'd quite like to hear Lou or Amy asking if I've tried the new chocolate bar from Cadbury or suchlike and them giving me their opinion on it. I was in one c-store chain recently, queuing at the till, where they had a big display of new products. When I got to the front, the assistant told me which ones were nice and which were not so nice. I don't suppose she was really meant to tell me about the horrible ones but I do like a bit of honesty and a bit of personality.


As the Government is urged to publish its plans for E10 by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Bioethanol, would you welcome the introduction of E10 as the right next step in cutting automotive carbon emissions?