Experienced retailers, David and Sharon Rimmer, have built their successful business around superior customer service. They have run the Post Office at Bilsborrow, Preston, for the last 18 years. He runs the store, and she runs the Post Office.
They are in the process of signing up with Parfetts, and heard about ShopMate through a recommendation from Head of Retail, Steve Moore. They have been impressed by the ease with which the whole staff has switched over to the new system, and consider it as a great indicator if the team are happy to take on new tech.
“I wish we had switched over to ShopMate years ago” said David. He especially likes the real-time access to the system, so he can keep up to date with what is happening in the store through the Management Portal. Since ShopMate was installed, David has encountered one connection problem – swiftly resolved. He sent an email at 6 am to the ShopMate helpdesk, went to the cash and carry and when he returned, they had contacted the store and resolved the issue.
The store is on the busy A6, Garstang Road, with plenty of traffic and regular pedestrians. The Road has a mixture of residential buildings and businesses and at the end is a large, independent garden centre, Barton Grange, that draws visitors from many miles around. It offers bowling, crazy golf and a cinema, all on the same site.
The store also benefits from nearby schools, St Johns Cross and Myers Court College which not only provides students seeking snacks and lunch during the week, but also has football pitches available for matches, providing regular revenue from teams and parents at weekends. Additional business comes in via the local aerodrome, farms and equestrian centres and a regular, large scale car boot sale. The demographic is relatively affluent and many retired professionals live nearby.
The store does have local competition but competes through their excellent reputation for customer service, especially in the Post Office where the team ensure they go the extra mile for their patrons – explaining the rules around car tax, and even repacking parcels to save on postal fees!
A reorganisation of the store has repositioned the counter and store room which makes all aspects of replenishment easier for the team to handle – adding efficiencies and reducing customer waiting times now the staff can see the counter at all times. It makes deliveries easier too, with a new roller door that allows up to four pallets to enter directly into the store room.
The counter now sits along the left-hand edge of the store, with spirits and vaping behind. Beyond the counter is the post office and during my visit there were several customers who knew David by name – it’s clear this store is a hub for the local community.
To the right of the door is an ice cream freezer and a coffee station, with a microwave for customer use – pasties are available in the chiller. David says he recently took down his hot food offering as it wasn’t performing well enough. The microwave seems to be working well for his customers and reduces wastage.
In the centre of the space are two independent units that display crisps and confectionery opposite the counter with household and pet foods on the reverse. The second unit houses groceries and essentials. The far-right wall is lined with refrigerated units for milk, fresh foods and snacks followed by freezers for frozen meals. The rear wall contains wines, beer and cider – ambient and chilled.
There is an excellent selection of greetings cards, and a small unit offering impulse toys. The store still sells newspapers and magazines but has recently cut down on the number of titles to the most popular 230. They also offer a newspaper delivery service to around 100 addresses. During the pandemic, the store offered delivery to local elderly and infirm residents and this has continued since.
David and Sharon constantly think about their range and layout of the store – with the recent changes sure to mean improved customer service as well as efficiency for staff. The new ShopMate EPoS system helps them with up-to-date wholesaler pricing and ensures David keeps his finger on the pulse using the free Management Portal. Continuous analysis of sales means the store will always know which categories and lines perform well and help them to stay competitive.