Many tradespeople and customers alike have become accustomed to using large retailers and online merchants. But what about the great British independent retailer? You might be surprised to hear that, alongside unrivalled service and unbiased, honest advice, your shopping basket at the end of your visit is likely to be cheaper! Buying locally is something being promoted across many sectors as a way (amongst many other things) to help boost the UK economy.
The IPG was formed in 2013 with one mission; to bring independent plumbing, heating and bathroom specialists together, and in turn, to give their customers the opportunity to buy great brands locally at the best prices. They have partnered with some of their members to share the various benefits of buying from an independent:
1) Expert knowledge – the information and advice offered to you will be unbiased and specifically tailored to your project and needs, peace of mind at its best.
Trevor Moore, Director of Splash Plumbing & Heating Ltd, commented:
“I stock certain products at my Reading branch, because I know my customers and I know there is a need for it in the area, whereas I recognise in my Egham branch there are different needs and I can tailor the stock accordingly.”
2) Friendly service – projects can be complicated, and sometimes things can go wrong. Having the option of visiting or picking up the phone to your local independent store, where you will find an expert on hand to help solve many dilemmas, quickly and efficiently, can be a life-saver.
Justin Protheroe of WMI Simpsons, commented:
“It’s not just about the price, it’s about the service. Even to the point where people can ring you up outside of hours (if they’re in trouble) and you can go to the shop and give them what they need – we do that and that’s a huge advantage to many of our customers.”
3) Supporting your local economy – often a common myth is that buying from an independent merchant will be more expensive, however in most cases, this just simply isn’t true. Independent merchants also recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, creating jobs and investing in their staff, enriching the whole community.
Steve Bates of Aquadart, an IPG supplier commented:
“Customers buying from an independent merchant are extremely important to our business, as again independent stores support the local economy by creating jobs and providing a more personal and professional service.”
4) Stock and products – an independent merchant will go above and beyond to source the most efficient, cost-effective products – with a quick turnaround. Guaranteeing a broader range of products, ensuring that your best interests and individual needs are the priority.
Ross Pavey, Finance Director at Gasbits, commented:
“We often see people coming to us after visiting a larger chain, having not got the advice or product they needed. At the end of the day, if we don’t get it right, we haven’t done our job properly and that isn’t what we want. We always go the extra mile to help our customers get what they need with solid advice in the timeline required.”
The advantages of buying from an independent are clear, not only are they more competitive in terms of price, but for them it’s about more than just the price, it’s more than the service, it’s about the fact that independents are there to help their customers.
Justin Protheroe of WMI Simpsons, concluded;
“Have you heard the old terminology ‘the computer says no’? That doesn’t happen with us and I don’t think that happens with any independent merchant because you are talking to the guy who can make the decision. In my experience, they can make the call there and then, independents are very quick and fast-paced, and it is personal.”
Nike Lovell, Head of Marketing at The IPG, concluded:
“We have a growing network of over 200 independent merchants, who pride themselves on being able to offer an in-depth, knowledgeable service. Often, the relationships created between our members and their customers go beyond purchases, in many cases, they become trusted advisors and friends.”
You can find out more about The IPG (and find one of their 200+ merchant member stores near you) via their website, www.the-ipg.co.uk.