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The innovative independent retail trade

The independent retail trade is a robust environment and one that has grown three times faster than the corporate channel.

The recent Independent Trade Forum, held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Gauteng, brought together stakeholders in the industry. “It is on volumes that the independents are able to level the playing fields with the big four,” says Dustin Pereira, MD, Unitrade Management Services (UMS)/Best Buy, voluntary trading associations providing full franchise service solutions to its membership base without a membership fee.

Independent stores highly relevant and unique


Its 250 plus stores do four million transactions every week and are spread throughout Southern Africa. The UMS and Best Buy Foods brands include Power Trade, Price Right, Food Town and Best Buy Express. This June it is launching Power Build, a hardware store.

“This route to market reaches the informal trader, stokvel and the end consumer in the LSM 2 to 6,” explains Pereira. “When times are good, consumers come to our stores. When times are tough, they might have less, but they still buy at our store.”

Independent stores are more innovative and constantly looking for opportunities. “They are highly relevant or unique to their market, have more flexibility so can react quickly, and are commodity focused. All of which has led to higher growth levels,” he adds.

Super Save Food Hyper in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) serves on average 10,000 customers a day. Customers are LSM 3 to 6 with an average R250 basket size.

However, Suhail Bayat, director of the store, is frustrated at the lack of understanding of the independent retail business by suppliers. “There are so many opportunities that the independent store offers, but if the supplier does not visit us and see our potential, he loses out.”

Working closely with suppliers makes a difference he says. “When we can talk to them, then we can implement a special or promotion quickly. That is the key to our success.”

Marketing tools


Overland Cash and Carry is one of the biggest independent cash and carry in the country. Operating from Klerksdorp the business is 80% wholesale and 20% retail. The customer base comprises different customers from informal traders to spaza shops and small supermarkets. Hawkers spend R500 to R1,000, Stokvels R10,000 to R100,000 and the weekly household shopper (LSM 1 to 6) R150 to R250.

José de Achadinha, of Overland Cash and Carry, says they employ several marketing tools to ensure customers visit their store. “Leaflets and broadsheets work well because people remember what they see, while SMS marketing, daily and weekly, also generates a great on the day response and instant sales.”

Signage also works well if it is constant. “If the consumer sees the same signage every day, it sticks. POS that looks good also attracts attention. Consumers love in-store competitions as these create excitement and tend to be top of mind until a winner is announced. Buy one get one free is another customer favourite. Last, but not least, are in-store demos,” he says.

About Danette Breitenbach

Danette Breitenbach was the editor and publisher of Advantage, the publication that served the marketing, media and advertising industry in southern Africa. Before her editorship, she was deputy-editor as well as freelancing for over a year on the publication before that. She has worked extensively in print media, mainly B2B, in the fields of marketing, mining, disability marketing, advertising and media.
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