Wind beneath my wings…a breath of fresh air ?

The title is a bit of a stretch to the blog content, but sounds a lot more catchy than Alchemy , or maybe it doesn’t. There again, does Alchemy Wings mean anything? As a test of severely limited ingenuity, I shall try to create  a meaningful link to the title, by the end of the blog.

Alchemy Wings is a startup in central London, offering an online delivery service to a  trial of 50 corner and convenience store, delivering crisps, snacks, and drinks (both alcoholic and non alcoholic) to their immediate customer base. Nothing especially exciting or revolutionary about that.

What I think is revolutionary are the startup’s backers, organisations such as Diageo, Coca Cola, Mars and Heineken. They are taking the view that whilst the biggest percentage of their retail sales come from the giant National Chains, their biggest profit margins come from the Independent. They don’t want to see a  further decline in the number of independents. Finally, the penny is starting to drop (not related to any drop in the Pound!).

How the thing works is that if you live ‘locally’ you can order your six pack and crisps from your local shop online (via Alchemy Wings web site) and get delivery in one hour. The trial service is confined to inner London , but if it works the plan is to extend it to large towns throughout the UK. Whilst the concept of setting up a web site for local independents is not new, the support given by big and powerful brands is,and perhaps sheds a little light at the end of the tunnel for many retailers.

I am not  expecting an explosion of corner shops. That is never going to happen, there are too many other obstacles not least , are the  independent shop owners (particularly corner shops) who are rubbish retailers. Yet, it does indicate that major suppliers are starting to understand that the future does not lie just with multiples. 

Suppliers in every retailing sector should take note. It is not an easy balance, as in some sectors independents are either not in sufficient numbers or not sufficiently professional. If the numbers stack up, in terms of outlets and professionalism, creative  ways of supporting the good retailer should be investigated and pursued. 

If supported, there is plenty of evidence that good independent retailers will continue to prosper despite intense competition from online operators, multiples and multiple discounters. This independent engenders loyalty to creative and supportive suppliers. It is just very surprising to see such initiatives coming from such big brands. 

Unfortunately, good retailers not only need support from good suppliers and consumers, they also need support and understanding from local and central government. Perhaps, the involvement of major international brands may help in raising the volume of that call.

It goes without saying, 2017 will be a tester. At every level of the chain , we,all, need to be creative and supportive. Happy 2017 !

So finally back to the title : Wind= Alchemy, feet = independent retailer and  finally ‘the breath of fresh air’ = major brands. That was a bit easier than I thought.

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