Time of Day Retailing

Time of day retailing has been hailed as the high street’s saviour.  

It’s simply changing your retail offer and the way it’s presented, so it’s more relevant to the needs of customers as they change throughout the day.

So why aren’t more retailers embracing this? There are challenges, but for innovative retailers it can result in transformational business growth.

Here are two examples and the rules leading to success.

Greasy spoon to Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon breakfast menu

Weatherspoon breakfast menu

JDWeatherspoon’s time of day revolution came by opening at 8am when pubs are traditionally closed due to licensing laws. However a pub that smells of stale beer is not the first choice for early morning breakfast. So for this to work they had to set their sites on owning breakfast, which involved offering a choice of decent quality traditional breakfasts in a comfortable environment and like their drinks, cheaper than local competition.

Customers soon discovered the benefits Weatherspoon offered – great value, family friendly, efficiently serviced and a superior experience to most local café’s.

Once established they quickly became an alternative venue for business meetings or the after school-run natter. Breakfast started blending with and extending early alcohol trading, seamlessly growing the pubs core business.

The right offer was important, but communicating to customers, the trustworthy values of the Weathersoons brand was essential. Breakfast included well known coffee brand Lavazza, mirroring the pub’s approach of stocking well known alcohol brands and the concept of “Breakfast Club” directly and credibly linked to the value of their Lunchtime “Curry Club”.

Cold brew espresso to espresso martini

Espresso martini - image care of www.brewlabcoffee.co.uk

Espresso martini - image care of www.brewlabcoffee.co.uk

Brew Lab Coffee is a specialty coffee shop in Edinburgh serving single origin espresso and cold brew coffee alongside artisanal food with local provenance.

When Brew Lab extended their offer to capture the evening alcohol and food missions they kept on brand. The offer they developed included real wine, local craft beers and of course, coffee based cocktails along with a range of cured meats and cheese. A sophisticated blend of Scottish tapas and grown up drinks.

Evening fare - image care of www.brewlabcoffee.co.uk

Evening fare - image care of www.brewlabcoffee.co.uk

The design of the venue was deliberately attuned to both sets of customers with a distressed individual look that could be hipster cafe or craft beer tap room.

Fellow Scotts, Brew Dog, saw the value in applying this formula the other way round and recently acquired a third stake in Brew Lab Coffee so that it could supply a convincing coffee offer in it’s growing chain of craft beer pubs for the less busy mornings. 

New territories

In both these examples, retailers have targeted a completely new customer mission that is distinct to the ones they already serve and who’s time of day activity falls outside their store trading hours. Effectively they run two retail offers back to back. Their success, then, is in ensuing overall retail values are consistent so customers see this as cohesive offer.

Dialing up your offer

For many retailers the opportunities are less about introducing a new offer and more about dialing up an existing offer or changing emphasis in store.

An example of this is considering how you could really differentiate breakfast, lunch & afternoon food day-parts to engage customers better.

In some sectors, such as travel retail, there are latent opportunities with evidently strong day part behavior and missions with groups of commuters traveling en mass.

Time of day rules

Care needs to be taken to maximize the benefits of change without reducing the profits of other parts of the business. As a guide, we’ve established these rules to help identify and plan a successful time of day strategy:

  1. Understand existing and potential day part shopper missions and when they occur.

  2. Understand which categories and products are in each mission and how they overlap.

  3. Understand the footfall potential for each mission to identify the size of the opportunity.

  4. Identify potential cannibalisation of sales.

  5. Plan your day part strategy and how each offer will align with and contribute to your overall brand values

  6. Plan your communication strategy

  7. Design the store elements that will transform engagement and align with your retail brand.

So why is “time of day” relevant now?

Traditional retailing is becoming harder. Real estate is a major part of the cost of retail and sweating that asset by trading longer or more effectively is fundamental to survival.

Technology now allows us to manage more easily, the transition from one day part to the next without relying on staff to always execute things perfectly:

McDonalds time of day ordering screens

McDonalds time of day ordering screens

·      With digital signage, in-store promotional communications can change automatically to suit the day part mission. (example McDonalds menus).

·      Lighting, music & aroma can all alter in-store experience. Pre-programmable lighting sets, time activated aroma and automatically selected playlists allow us to shift emphasis throughout the day.

·      Lastly “Information is king” and customer and sales data are more readily available, helping category managers build stronger offers.