We spoke to Gary Lunt, advisory director at National Buying Consortium (NBC) to discuss how to increase sales during festive periods.
What actions and steps do you take to capitalise on profitable periods throughout the year? Can you name examples?
We and the members of NBC, supply a wide range of trade channels, meaning we have to be both diligent and flexible with our sales and marketing plans throughout a calendar year. There are obvious consumer based events such as Easter and Christmas, where the emphasis is very much on supporting both brands and retailers to activate activity that maximises the revenue opportunities. There are also seasonal trends that can have a massive impact on consumer behaviour for particular product categories. Obvious examples would be the summer and its anticipated effect upon soft drinks and ice creams. What might be less obvious is the impact upon suppliers to schools and the change in demand patterns during school holidays for catering products. And there is a massive elephant in the room relevant to all of these patterns – revenues and profit. It is one thing to ensure you maximise the sales opportunity, the real balancing act is to ensure you also make a profit.
Read more: Interview: NBC
To make sure we and the members of NBC maximise every single opportunity we set out our plan;
- A systemic promotional calendar to cover all known macro consumer based events
- Overlay this with specific channel based activity
- Overlay this with specific supplier partner activity
- Provide the necessary tools to support members
From the perspective of our central office, we ensure that we discuss all seasonal or macro consumer based events with our supplier partners and agree on joint activity. This makes sure that consumers can get their brands of choice, where and when they want them. This summer, it has been business critical to work with water and soft drinks companies to maximise availability when faced with a great opportunity but horrendous supply chain issues not seen for a long while.
Read more:Three wholesalers join NBC
How important is your work with suppliers during these periods? Do they advise and lead on how you should operate during specific periods?
Our supplier partners are critical. Full stop. We get great category insights, and more and more of them are now providing activity that suits the channels that we supply – this comes down to education into just exactly what we and our NBC members actually do. One size does not fit all! More recently, collaboration with supplier partners to minimise supply shortages and communicate with members has been critical to maintaining trust. We trust supplier partners to deliver what they can when it’s available, and they trust us to make sure we get it to their consumers. Job done!
Read more: NBC confirms managerial changes
Can you names specific examples of methods you’ve tried that have had a positive effect on your business for certain months?
A relatively simple example of working in partnership with our supplier partners would be Halloween. By working to a schedule and with the bespoke brochure facility we have for members, Jason Langmead, our Chairman and member company VWT based in Jersey, compiled a great programme of offers for his customers with excellent activation.
We have also recently agreed on a launch programme for a healthy snack company based upon the timings of ‘back to school’, so that our members who supply catering contracts in schools get the timings absolutely spot-on!