ForemostGolfLogo_309x121Business for the owners of either one shop or a small group of stores is getting harder. Larger retailers continue to encroach on their space using their buying power plus investment in technology and processes that smaller retailers can’t match.  Fortunately smaller retailers often have buying groups to help them fight back.

How buying groups can help your business?

An example of small stores with only one or a limited number of outlets are golf professionals whose stores are located at golf courses. The shops have to compete with online only retailers, large specialist golf chains and a whole range of other retailers who sell golf equipment or clothing. Nearly a thousand of those pro shops are members of a large buying and marketing group called Foremost Golf.

What do Foremost provide?

Foremost provides its members with best cost procurement and other services such as Epos and central invoice administration to match the technology and processes of larger competitors. Keeping ahead of competitors means that new or updated services need to be frequently added to the package. These include business support marketing and retail expertise from industry experts and comprehensive digital/in-store marketing programs.
As Paul Hedges, Foremost CEO, says, “Our objective is to keep finding new ways to save members time and resources so golf professionals can spend more time advising golfers on the products that are right for them.” It’s all about helping members improve the service they give to their customers.
A very similar approach is being used by buying groups in other specialist areas too. For example Pierhouse have another buying group customer called Instigo who services pharmacies. However, the challenge for all buying groups is the same. What to offer to their members next?

Retail buying groups are making things easier for customers and store staff

The retail buying group Foremost approached this challenge by looking at why some customers leave the pro shop without buying, even when other factors such as product and price are favourable.  A root cause turned out to be limited product information on signage. This led to highly trained shop staff having to spend time answering simple questions rather than using their expertise to advise customers on the right products for them. Foremost members wanted an improved ticketing system that would save them time whilst helping their customers’ make buying decisions, resulting in increased sales.
Foremost and Instigo are not alone in discovering the impact of improving in-store signage and we are talking to a number of other buying groups about how their members could benefit too. Signage is such a core activity that it’s easy to take it for granted and not spot the value that an updated system can add to members and their customers.

Read also: The future of retail in emerging markets.