Are UK supermarkets facing an identity crisis?

 

It’s a Saturday morning like any other and the age-old act of traversing the vast wasteland of supermarket aisles has become that much of a mundane chore, that I think we’ve missed what is becoming a glaringly obvious question – are these giants of retail facing some kind of identity crisis? Have they actually lost sight of who they are, and what they started out as?

At one time the ‘Big 4’, commanded total authority over our shopping habits. However, since the price wars of recent years and down turns in economies customers have woken up to the fact that saving a few pence on a £50.00 shop isn’t really good enough. Enter the challenger – the low cost store! “What does this have to do with identity?”I hear you ask. Well, in a word, everything!

In the last 18 to 24 months low cost alternatives have become so popular that the larger chains are finding it ever harder to be on an equal footing. Every week more and more people are choosing to shop at these low cost retailers even though they realise that they are potentially sacrificing quality… but by how much?

Bosses at one of the discount stores claim that their products are consistent in their quality, and for a 10% quality reduction customers are actually saving 30% during the average shop. They’re doing this by avoiding the stereotypical high-street brands and using their own. Do they in reality taste any different? No, but they cost less, and it’s this factor that has lead the big boys to implement more “was £2.00, now £1.50” tactics and BOGOF offers but they’re still falling behind on profits by a rapidly increasing margin.

This is where your traditional supermarket really is losing its identity. In their attempts to save its customer money, they have all become one and the same, save for a few pence difference. According to Mike Dennis, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald Research, the Big 4 are facing a true identity crisis and they need to pick a side. Are they going to go with premium items, or are they going to go the way of the discounters and offer lower prices? If they do neither, they’ll have to do something drastic to compete in this increasingly bland environment.

The Bank of England officially recognises the benefits of Polymer!

 

 

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Yes, it’s true, and we couldn’t be more proud. The Bank of England has formally accepted and embraced the dramatic benefits of polymer – the same financial and environmental advantages which savvy supply chain operators already enjoy. Full disclosure, we are talking about the new £5 note made from polymer, not the range of retail ready packaging solutions provided by Polymer Logistics. When you look at BOE’s rationale for going to plastic for the attractive New Fiver, however, the same compelling talking points speak to supply chain operations as well. The power of polymer can be a game changer in your wallet as well as for your bottom line.

First of all, BOE has found the New Fiver to be cleaner. To be precise, Mark Carney, BOE’s Governor says, “The impermeable and non-fibrous nature of polymer means it repels dirt and moisture.” Did you know that the average paper banknote has been determined to carry 26,000 bacteria? If a single paper note harbours so many bacteria, think about how many occupy a soiled wood pallet!

Secondly, the polymer notes are stronger and therefore resistant to tearing – the leading cause of paper note retirement along with being washed, chewed or eaten (we are not making this up!). In a similar vein, the strength of plastic packaging provides superior product protection and eliminates crushing and puncture damage to goods in the supply chain. This translates into fewer claims and eliminates the need for logistics heroics to replace the unsalable items.

Thirdly, BOE says the polymer notes will last 2.5 times longer than their paper predecessors, which will benefit significantly the environment. As the notes will last longer, fewer will need to be printed, meaning less energy will be used in manufacturing and transportation of cash. When a polymer note reaches the end of its life, it can be recycled into new plastic products. No surprise, users of reusable plastic packaging are already quite familiar with the environmental and financial benefits of durability and reuse.

Finally, the polymer Fiver boasts state-of-the-art new security measures and an attractive appearance that paper notes just can’t match.

When it comes to the benefits of polymer for your supply chain, don’t only take it from us. Check with Governor Carney and BOE. It’s money in the bank.

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The rising base shipper and the DIY industry

 

With the large number of heavy items that exist in DIY chains stores, a number of methods have been installed to try to mitigate the potential of customer injury such as muscular damage. One method is to employ large numbers of staff to assist in the moving and distribution of items that perhaps consist of large bags, heavy pots, paint tins, garden equipment etc on the store floor.
With a high percentage of the consumer in high street DIY chains is above 40 there is a great risk for the potential to causing injury or at the very least, lead to an uncomfortable shopping experience.

The spring loaded crates from Polymer logistics could provide a excellent method of providing a support for these customers in the way that it functions as a delivery system . As one item is removed from the crate, the next one replaces it due to the spring loaded mechanism built into the base of the crate. This method of delivery provides a potential to reduce the risk of back injury as it reduces the need to bend down to pick up the item. Instead the item is delivered to a level, which calls for minor movements to take the item and thus reduces strain.

Although shelving is a staple feature in many of our DIY stores, the need of assistance for many customers can cause an increase in the demands on staff time to assist. What’s more it could also essentially put customers of going to such a store, without someone to help.

With the ever growing demographic of older people taking up gardening and small DIY projects, the ever growing need for a robust system to mitigate against the risk of injury is greatly increased. however this small but important problem can in fact be reduced or even taken out of the equation by a number of minor changes at either end of the delivery cycle. as the product is exchanged to the customer for the first time, there is a apparent need there. When the product is being processed at
the check out there is a need for a product to assist there. When the product has left the store with the customer, a requirement is needed however the store is not obligated to do so. This could be seen as a opportunity to provide a level of service beyond the expectations of the consumer, and thus increase the loyalty to the brand in question. “They have done a favour for me, so I will do one for them by revisiting”. This is the quest of every chain that is actively pursuing customers in a competitive market.

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Need Pallets? Think Plastic

Plastic pallet design has witnessed tremendous leaps forward in recent years. Offering a wider choice than ever, the latest plastic pallets deliver a cleaner, safer and more robust alternative to conventional wooden pallets.

Plastic pallets offer advantages that include:

• 100% consistency of size and strength
• Around 10 times greater life than wooden pallets
• Far safer handling, without cuts or splinters
• A recyclable, environmentally friendly solution
• No issues of mould growth or dust contamination
• Can be deployed in hygienic areas
• Resistant to moisture, weak acids and alkalis
• Easy to clean
• A future investment

100% consistency of size and strength

While wooden pallets are susceptible to size and strength variation, plastic pallets ensure consistent dimensions and loading capacities because they are manufactured at high pressures in highly polished moulds.

Around 10 times greater life than wooden pallets

When deployed in closed loop distribution, under normal handling and loading conditions, it’s not unusual for plastic pallets to offer a life span in excess of a decade. That is 10 times beyond the life expectancy of an equivalent wooden pallet.
Far safer handling, without cuts or splinters
Because plastic pallets are free of nails and sharp, ragged edges, handling can take place without fear of cuts or splinters.

A recyclable, environmentally friendly solution

Wooden pallets provoke questions of sustainability and the threat to forestry. This has encouraged many users to exchange traditional wooden pallets for recyclable plastic alternatives that are themselves produced from recycled materials.

No issues of mould growth or dust contamination

Plastic pallet surfaces remain free of contaminants because there are no hidden pockets or areas where dirt and dust can accumulate. The ‘blue stain mould’ that appears commonly on new wooden pallets, especially in humid conditions, is ugly and unhygienic.

Can be deployed in hygienic areas

It is clearly unsuitable to expose hygienic areas and clean rooms to contamination from wooden pallets harbouring mould or dust. Our innovative Hygienic Pallets offer completely smooth, sealed surfaces, eliminating any potential for impurities to seek refuge in the structure of the pallet.

Resistant to moisture, weak acids and alkalis

No matter how harsh the operating conditions, plastic pallets will demonstrate zero moisture absorption. Typically, polyethylene and polypropylene pallets are both immune to weak acids and alkalis.

Easy to clean

It is possible to repeatedly steam clean or wash plastic pallets, thus eliminating any dust or spilt products that can build up on pallet surfaces over an extended timeframe.

A future investment

While plastic pallets initially cost more than their wooden counterparts, in closed loop service plastic pallets are perceived as assets. As a result, their cost should be depreciated over their working life. With this in mind, based on an average, medium use plastic pallet, the weekly cost can be as low as PSTG 0.05 (US Dollars 0.07).

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Why Pallet Leasing is the Best Christmas Present for the Retail Distribution Crunch

When Christmas seasonal volumes surge, resources such as pallets, warehouse storage locations and transport equipment can quickly crash to critical lows. Delivery schedules can teeter in the balance as staff scramble throughout the facility to push cases off of pallets in their quest to find enough of them to more or less do the job. Those pallets may be damaged or substandard, but when customers are in a panic about delivery, how important is a pallet, really?

That is, of course, until a pallet results in product damage, a nail laceration to a worker at the receiving end, or even worse, a pallet failure in a storage rack. Then there are questions to answer, and no one is much interested that you were trying valiantly to get the order shipped on time.

You can buy new pallets, but that can often take time. It may require a CAPEX, or you may have already blown your annual budget for new pallets and have to resort to sorting through the stacks of damaged pallets out back to find some that will do. Or in case they are wooden pallets, they might be wet and it could require time before they dry and can be used. The problem is that you need the pallets now, not in January.

The solution to the seasonal pallet crunch is easy. It is called pallet rental or pallet leasing. By renting pallets to cover seasonal peaks, you receive the best quality pallets, ones which deliver superior product protection, meet sanitation requirements and provide other benefits that come with dealing with a leading pool provider. As a result, you avoid the cost of buying pallets that you may not need for ten months per year, and pay only for the period they are required. As an extra bonus, if you rent high quality plastic pallets, you can avoid issues such as exposed nails, slivers or wet deck boards that can soak moisture up into corrugated containers and result in bulging cartons and unstable loads.

And as you have the rental pallets only as long as needed, they aren’t taking up valuable storage space as they sit idle for months on end whether it is Christmas or another seasonal spike in volume, just bring them in when you need them.

No matter how you analyse it, the Christmas season is crazy for retailers. There is a way to help bring sanity to your operations, however, and that is by renting pool pallets to cover the crunch. Why not give yourself a present this season by giving it a try?

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Is retailer loyalty dead?

 

Let’s face it: customer’s loyalty isn’t what it used to be.  Gone are the days when customers used to shop in one store and one store alone.  I remember as a young child I used to ask my parents, whilst on numerous shopping trips, why we always went to the same store for groceries? I was told that we had always shopped there.  That’s loyalty and no matter what happened in terms of new stores opening my parents continued to shop at the same store.

However over the past decades the supermarket landscape has changed.  There is more choice and options.  The changing economic environment has seen the rise of discounted stores and traditional retailers changing to suit shoppers’ budget.  In reality, we all shop around nowadays, we go to the stores that offer quality product at the right price (unless you are fortunate enough to not have to worry about the household budget). However, even though we have seen the popularity of the rising stars rocket, there are still reasons that we shop at the big names. You see, there may just be things that you feel you can’t get at the discounters or the fresh produce quality is better at the big name stores!

To be honest, that’s where it gets difficult for the big names: how do they differentiate to ensure that the customer that can’t get what they need from the discounters shop with them?

Well, here at Polymer Logistics we believe that the layout and how produce is displayed goes a long way to encouraging customer loyalty.

Looking at my own buying habits, now I use the store that looks good to purchase the missing items from my list and there can be no doubt that the big names are spending cash reinventing their real estate.  However, can they go further? Polymer Logistics believes the answer to that is yes and we think we have the key.

So if you want to discuss how you can get the key to unlock extra loyalty, why not contact us and let us highlight what we can do for you?

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Rising Base Shippers Prove a Hit for popular UK retailer’s Eggs

There’s something very appealing about an egg. Perfectly formed, versatile and hailed as a superfood, it’s no wonder they’re part of everyone’s weekly shopping basket.

But they do have an obvious fatal flaw if they’re not well protected on their journey to the consumer – the high risk of breakages that pose hygiene risks and can be off-putting to customers. No-one will buy eggs in a box that’s come into contact with raw egg, even if the eggs in that box are intact.

Looking to provide a higher level of protection and reduce breakages and wastage, a well-known UK’s retailer carried out a six-month trial using rising base ambient shippers from Polymer Logistics. These innovative multi-purpose containers not only protect the fragile produce through the supply chain, but they stay looking full via a spring-loaded floor that rises automatically as the egg boxes are shopped.

The retailer first approached Polymer Logistics about reducing damages and waste in 2012 at a Polymer Logistics Open Day. The Egg buying team could see its potential straightaway.

“It’s such a neat and obvious combination,“ said the retailer’s egg buying team. “As part of delivering the best possible shopping experience for customers, we were attracted by the idea of making the eggs on display more visible and easier to select, as well as the potential commercial benefits of reduced wastage and replenishment costs.”

The disadvantages of merchandising eggs in the conventional way start before they even get to the shelf. Transported to store on a pallet and afforded little product protection, there’s a much higher chance of breakages. Furthermore, when they arrive at store, they’re then typically handled twice – first to unload them from the pallet into a roll cage, and then to transfer them from roll cage onto shelf, again with the risk of damage.

Once they’re on the shelf, the eggs at the front may be easy to select, but the ones at the back are harder to reach and are more likely to be left by customers – especially if they’re perceived as “old”.

With Polymer Logistics rising base ambient shippers, egg cartons are loaded by the packers directly into the shippers – “retail-ready” for when they arrive at the store with no further handling. Once in position, as egg boxes are selected by customers, the cartons underneath rise up and remain nicely presented, even when only a few remain.

The robust multi-purpose bins replace one-trip packaging – so they’re also more environmentally sustainable and cost-effective.

The retailer’s six-month trial proved highly successful. The stores involved reported 30% fewer breakages, less product wastage, less cardboard waste, and savings in replenishment costs.

The mentioned retailer is currently rolling out the units in its stores nationwide.

 

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