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Tobacco Display Ban advice from the Experts

070711 7th July 2011 JTI, Weybridge Alan WilkinsonJTI_Logo_RGB
We spent some time with Alan Wilkinson, JTI Independent Wholesalers Business Development Manager to get some advice on how best to approach the tobacco display ban in your store.

When would you advise retailers to start making plans to be fit for the display ban?

The implementation of the retail display ban represents the biggest upheaval this category has witnessed in recent years, and whilst it may seem like a long way off, only stores that start preparing now will see a smooth transition.

We know from when larger stores went through the transition that planograms need to be in place well in advance. The risk is that if it is left too late staff are not given enough time to adapt, resulting in increased queuing times, disruption and potentially lost sales.

Therefore, it’s key that retailers start preparing now. This means implementing and sticking to a workable planogram that is designed to grow profits prior to and beyond April 2015.

To ensure JTI’s sales force continues to excel in a restricted market environment we have been investing in the development of our reps please use representatives instead of reps. Customers can expect our business advisors to deliver an unrivalled service, not only in the quality of support but also in the frequency of visits to provide invaluable strategic insight and help to grow their business and they can always be called upon if retailers require support.

The challenge to independents is that they are about to take on the multiples who have been operating in this environment for three years. Preparation is absolutely vital!

What advice do you have for retailers ahead of the display ban coming into effect for them?

We can foresee that in a restricted market environment the key principles of category management will be more important than ever before. To help, JTI has developed an approach called ARTIST, which stands for Availability, Range, Training, Innovation, Sales and Technology

Retailers are being asked to review their approach to the category today, using these six simple steps as a guide:

JTI_ARTIST graphic RGB • Availability – It’s vital that the tobacco gantry remains well stocked – 100% availability 24/7 is key. Remember to review stock levels each morning and prior to peak trading times. Out-of-stocks will only lead to lost sales, as 28% 1 of shoppers choose to buy elsewhere if their intended item is unavailable

Range – Offer a wide choice of cigarette, RYO and cigar brands. A range of pack sizes, as well as price marked and non-price marked packs, will demonstrate to existing adult smokers that they are getting the best possible choice and value

Training – Ensure staff are well trained on the law surrounding the sale of tobacco and are kept up-to-date with the latest regulatory and legislative changes. Visit www.jtiadvance.co.uk for further information, support and guidance on retailing tobacco responsibly

Innovation – Support new tobacco products and pack innovations in store. These have been developed in line with trends in the market place. Look out for JTI’s educational point of sale material in cash & carry depots, which is designed to highlight product development and help decision-making

Sales – Take time to understand what’s happening in the tobacco category. Make sure you know which areas are in growth, what the most popular pack formats are and what sells well in your region

Technology – Data and information is vital for the retailer of today. The key to profitable tobacco is range and availability so running out of stock could be a critical error. Understanding what is happening in your store and being able to pinpoint key sales trends is a priceless insight. A good EPoS system will help get the balance right

How do you expect the display ban to be policed?

It is the role of the individual retailer to ensure they are compliant. JTI has provided all the relevant information retailers need to adhere to the legislation via our Trade Marketeers, the trade press and, most recently, our new website, JTI Advance >>

As tobacco is such an important traffic builder for small retailers what impact would you expect the ban to have on footfall? And how would you counter this?

Learnings from the multiples have shown that there was a minimal shift in sales but a tangible impact on in-store operations. These findings were consistent across the UK.

For example in England, up to 10% of existing adult smokers added the convenience store to their choice of where they buy tobacco from.

Queue times also increased at the point of purchase as people buying tobacco will often question staff about availability and price; questions that would not usually be asked where the tobacco display unit and price barkers are visible. In the short term, staff will also experience greater difficulty in locating tobacco products without visual aid.

For smaller stores, it is important that the planogram remains consistent as staff need to become familiar with the layout particularly as it is behind closed doors – this is one way to ensure that queuing time is kept to a minimum. It’s important too that smaller store retailers ensure staff are familiar with the tobacco category and product location prior to the gantry being covered up.

Retailers should see this as an opportunity; when a customer walks into a shop, it needs to be the same experience as it was before the gantry was covered up. The independent retailer has as a big advantage over the multiple in that they will know who the customer is and which brand they smoke, given that tobacco is one of the most loyal of all categories. These retailers can potentially have an adult smoker’s brand of choice ready before they even reach the counter.

Provided the independent retailer understands that customer relationships, availability and depth of range are vital to maintaining regular custom and footfall, then the transition should be a smooth one.

Unlike the rest of the UK it will be illegal for Scottish tobacco retailers to display associated products such as papers, tubes and filters.

1 Ipsos Q1-Q4, 2013

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