17 September 2007, 12:38 PM
  • This month Rob Ward asks whether following the crowd is the key to success?

If you want to set up a new deli or improve an existing one – what do you do? Do you visit another deli? No! Why not? Because everyone else does!

It never ceases to amaze me that people think by going to other peoples delis they can develop new ideas. ‘The Yard’ is a brand new store situated at the quiet end of Northcote road, London. They have taken the latest American concept, pioneered by ‘Dinner by Design’.
The business model is that the consumer can go into the store and buy raw ingredients and then make them into a finished meal with the aid of an in-store chef. Then eat in or take-away their meal.

What I love about this concept is that they are challenging existing preconceptions of retail and restaurant eating. I am no sure that it has commercial legs to survive high street rents and rates, but I admire their bravery. What’s your yard-stick for new ideas?

There is no doubt visiting other deli’s will help you make some small improvements to your product range or merchandising style – but to be really different you HAVE to go out of the predicable and move into the unusual.

Our industry is in danger of losing that innovative cutting edge that got us to this here in the first place. New entrants are attaching our market from three fronts: multiples, new concept retailers and on-line retailers.

Tinkering with small changes is NOT going to make you stand out from an increasingly crowded market place.

Here’s five top tips for innovative retail ideas for 2008:
.      Find ways to engineer out costs, without compromising on your ‘ingredients’ – consumer spending is under serious pressure. Finding clever ways to reduce your costs and pass on that value to your customers.

·      Ditto above – to increase your margins and keep the price the same! i.e. buying better or working with another retailer to make deliveries more efficient. 

·      It’s all about ‘me’ – let your customers make their own choice from a combination of basic ingredients that is just for them. Think like a fajita! 5 core ingredients creates hundreds of combinations that are personal to them.

·      Stop selling posy, pretension food and get real with great every day food. i.e. Steak & Ale pie V’s a fancy preserve that hardly anyone wants!

·      Think ‘Purple Cow’ *– create a wow factor that is unique to you.

Let’s make your yard-stick the unusual and start to push the boundaries we currently seat in.

Rob Ward from www.On-ward.co.uk runs his own retail business and helps other retailers in developing their business. Tel: 01952 603747 or Mob: 07773777097

www.dinnerbydesignkitchen.com. Must read ‘Purple Cow’ book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/203-5117428-4717504