Best Choice supermarkets’ outlets use to be places for shoppers seeking fast and convenient retail shops to quickly stock up on few groceries for the home. But now they are quickly disappearing. As observed by CobraReview, the store at Allen Avenue has folded up. The one sitting right at the heart of Obalende is gone. Many more of such may have also closed shop. That is the present state of the mini supermarket – that was once dotting almost every street corner of Lagos with its rich yellow, red and blue painted stores.
The owner of the supermarkets, Multipro, deployed an unusual business model. Though it was basically a franchise-model, its Business Associates (BA) may have been over-pampered to succeed. How can you deliver a fully furnished shop to an associate? It sounds like an easy approach. An easy approach always catches up in the end just as easy money grows wings and flies away.
It’s the opinion of CobraReview that
interested associates should rent and furnish their own shops while Multipro work tirelessly to deliver products with good margin and at competitive prices notwithstanding, at the associates’ request and payment.
Multipro has a lot to gain from that kind of arrangement. With an expansive investment portfolio, sourced from the parent company, the Tolaram Group, it has a bargaining advantage to purchase at extraordinary discounts from manufacturers, because of its massive scale. It could have leveraged this bargaining power, while setting up a hob-and-spoke distribution network to make goods available, after sourcing, to its less powerful associates to sell at prices below other stores within each location, and at good margin to maintain the relationship.
Unfortunately, most Best Choice supermarkets sell at the same price or even higher than the abokis (Mallam kiosks) and night markets located on most streets in the cities. Since shoppers have become bargain-hunters, they buy where they can save extra N10 or N5. That psychology contradicts what is obtainable at Best Choice supermarkets.
With the kind of operating structure at Best Choice, the only way it could have survived was to add fun, entertainment, deep assortment, and an extraordinary customer service. Unfortunately, the supermarket brand also lacked any of those advantages.
Locating closer to people is not enough advantage. These days buyers are willing to make one trip per week to distant malls to store up for a long time at retail shops where they find good prices, deep assortment, fun, entertainment, and above average customer service. Those are the attractions at other retailing stores.
As Best Choice slowly winds down, one hopes this is not the end. If it is, it should serve as a lesson to investors who are merely interested in the strong Nigerian population but with less understanding of the psychology of sales. It is clear, however, that consumers or shoppers will not even feel its demise.