Providing a reason for customers to want to shop at your store is the driving force behind the business philosophy at the TOPS retail outlet in Nahoon, East London.
This approach led to the Nahoon shop being voted the TOPS Store of the Year at the recent SPAR Eastern Cape Members Meeting at the Boardwalk Casino in Port Elizabeth.
Nigel Connellan, managing director of Western Gruppe, the holding company for 14 SPAR stores in the region, said there were plenty of challenges to face in the current economic climate.
“But as a retailer, if you do not offer the customer a reason to shop at your store – be it service, quality, convenience or value – then you will be left out,” he said.
“For example, we obviously have trained all our staff on product knowledge, but over the last year have opened and expanded the entire wine department.
“We carry a range that no one else has in East London, including some very exclusive wines. This is the sort of thing I believe you need to offer customers.”
He added that everything in life was negotiable, except quality, “and this applies to service, as well as product quality”.
Connellan said winning the TOPS store award for the first time was a massive achievement, not only for the group, but for the store itself.
“I am very proud of the team we have in place,” he added.
“I do believe the biggest benefit will be to the team at the store as this is recognition for a job well done.”
Through the high standards they maintained, he said he had thought they could be in the running for the honour, but acknowledged that there were many quality stores in competition with them.
“It is never our intention to particularly push for the store of the year award. If it happens, obviously it is great, but our intention in every store we have is to do the best we possibly can at all times.
“But when we get an accolade such as this we will accept it with pride and run with it.”
Connellan said training was a key component of the company’s business.
“We have a partner in the business who also heads up training for the group and this is an ongoing passion of hers.
“When you have a love for training and assisting staff to always improve and better themselves, it makes it so much easier.”
He said they also placed a big focus on contributing to the community with a total of 36 charity boxes in their stores.
“Customers place their till slips in the charity box of their choice and 1% of all sales will be given back to that particular charity. This really assists so many schools, churches and non-governmental organisations every month.”