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Shopper Mission - Postal Service

Spotting a real opportunity to enhance a village store, retailer Murat Halis jumped at the chance to get his hands on a business with an adjoining post office

When Murat Halis was on the hunt for new business opportunities, he discovered Keadby Post Office was gift wrapped and ready to be delivered. The retailer had experience working in the convenience sector previously so knew the benefit of offering added-value services to customers – so a village shop connected to a fully functioning post office had plenty of potential.

With a steady flow of footfall already visiting the store in Keadby, a village on the outskirts of Scunthorpe, Murat set about building on his existing customer base. Although his first task was to get to grips with the post office.

“This is my first experience of a post office so that was the number-one priority when I firststarted,” said Murat, who bought the store in July 2019.

“There was a lot to learn, as running a post office is a bit more technical and disciplined because you need to do a lot more accounting and reports, which was a challenge at first. “Every shop has a new way of working, so you will always learn something new when you change your business. Things might look complicated, but it just takes time to learn and solve it.”

Big Changes

While many residents from the village used the post office, Murat wanted to attract more into the store and decided to do a full-scale refurb to make it more appealing.

Within three months of taking over, the store was given a fresh look, with brand-new racking, floors and fittings. An extension to the rear of the store also created more space to include a wider range of products.

Footfall increased almost immediately, with Murat welcoming nearly 30% more people in the store during Christmas 2019 compared to the previous year.

“We knew refurbishing could potentially work and profits are already up – hopefully in six months, we’ll start hitting the targets we’ve set,” Murat explained.

“The store needed a bit of attention and it’s basically now a brand-new shop from top to bottom. We changed everything and had to do the electrics and install a new fuse box as well. It was a big, old building and everything was old in there.

“The customers like the changes because we’re the first shop in the village to have a modern look. It’s made such a big difference and we’ve had some very positive feedback because the locals weren’t expecting to see that much change.”

Postal Service
Postal Service
Postal Service

New opportunities

The refurbishment also meant Murat could make more of the store’s space and spotted an opportunity to stock chilled food, which no other shop in the nearby area offers.

The range has proved to be a big hit, with residents flocking to the store in preference of making a longer trip to stores closer to the town.

“Our customers have said chilled food is a good thing to have and it was what the village needed,” Murat said.

“Previously, they were having to Recognise what new additions will benefit your local area, such as chilled food drive out of the village to go to Tesco, so now we provide something for them that’s closer. When you’re a community store, it’s about finding something that will make a difference to customers’ lives.”

Perfect layout

As a smaller store, Keadby Post Office needs to make sure everything it stocks is paying its way, with every inch of the floor plan delivering sales.

In order to help with this, he worked with a Business Development Manager from his local Unitas Wholesale member, Dee Bee Wholesale, to create the perfect layout. It seems to have been a success, with Murat reporting a high turnover of stock across every category.

“Everything is just how we planned it,” added Murat. “We’re a smaller store, but we made some extensions to the back to make it bigger, but it could have done with being slightly bigger again.

“Merchandising is crucial because displaying products properly with limited space is very important. You can only have so many products, so to have them in the best place makes it easier for customers to find what they want.

“At the same time, you need to make products more visible so they sell more. Our merchandiser was very good and we were lucky to work with him.”

Winning promotions

If a cleaner, more welcoming look, a post office and a wider range of products wasn’t enough to draw in more customers, Murat regularly runs Unitas Wholesale promotions in-store to provide even greater value.

He communicates these by posting leaflets he receives from Unitas Wholesale to homes around the village and creating a buzz by putting up posters to grab the attention of passers-by.

“Marketing was another thing nobody in the area had done before,” Murat said. “We noticed more people coming to the store after we’d distributed leaflets in the area, so it works.

“We’re always trying new ways to get more people into the store. Relationships are really important in a store like this – sometimes people come in to buy something or just to say hello. People didn’t know what we were like, but in time you get to know people and it all comes together.”

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