making a difference in retail

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The Co-op continues to go from strength to strength recording market share gains in a market where the German discounters are the only other ones boasting the same. The discounters success is (relatively) easily explained – they are the “Ronseal” of retail, providing a reasonable range of assorted affordable products day in day out – something that clearly resonates with many of today’s price conscious and savvy consumers.

But what is it about the Co-op? What are they doing that has got them ahead of the pack?

Steve Murrells (Co-op’s CEO) is a brilliant and inspirational leader – I hate to use the term, but he is a seasoned retail veteran who has seen things from both sides of the fence both as a retailer and supplier.

Steve has just been nominated for the UK’s inaugural “Retail Activist Award” for his personal work and recognition to alleviate water poverty, raising the plight of the 900 million people worldwide who do not have access to clean, safe water. To date, the Co-op has donated £11m to The One Foundation to enable the supply of water in affected areas. The Co-op’s mechanic to raise the money is simple – 1p from every branded bottle and 3p from all own-label water goes to the foundation to provide and improve the water infrastructure where needed.

In discussing the nomination, Steve is very clear that the initiative is not for competitive advantage and actively encourages others to participate. This approach I believe sets the Co-op aside – it’s social presence, combined with a commercially strong business “gets people to travel our way” – Steve’s words!

A recent Deloitte survey found that 92% of millennials gravitate towards retailers with a “social presence” and the expectation is that the commercial success is a given. In the years to come, 75% of the population will comprise of these influential millennials, so it follows that to be commercially successful alone may not be enough to continually grow and prosper!

If you are a retailer, I’d challenge you to ask yourself a couple of questions! First, what are you doing to champion a cause, whatever that cause is? And second, what are you doing that is not for profit, but is just the right thing to do?! The second point to me is the “hook” or incentive for businesses that if grasped, will help them gain customer favour – plus it sustains the future for people and the planet!

Look around you and see what successful businesses are championing – Dave Lewis (Tesco) is on a mission to reduce food waste. Amazon want to be 50% carbon neutral in the coming years – the examples are endless.

Look and think about your work – what are you going to do that will make you stand out from the crowd? Sometimes, don’t just think about profit, but do what is right!

At 4C we can help you identify the opportunities within your business that enable you to flourish – we can look at products, categories, structures – whatever your retail need, we can help!

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This week, the Co-op has been found guilty of breaching the Grocery Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) and ordered to pay £1.3m in costs and £650k back to affected suppliers. So what does this mean for you?

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