One-O-One is the largest independent convenience store group in Scotland, with a portfolio of 46 shops, and operates from their head office in Glasgow’s West End. The group accepts Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards across its stores, and have seen significant redemptions of the gift cards. Jim Harper is the Retail Area Business Manager and told us how they maximised success through the programme:
“We spoke to Scotland’s Towns Partnership at the conception of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card. At the time, the gift card offered huge potential to support businesses and drive local economic recovery but was still in its infancy. As a group, we were not sure what the size of the opportunity was for One-O-One but took the decision that it was an initiative that we wanted to be involved in.
“To get the ball rolling, I spoke to my colleagues at One-O-One who look after buying and merchandising, stock and systems, including card administration, payments and marketing. One of the main questions we had was how do we work through the process of onboarding all of our stores, and it involved completing a successful test transaction at each store, so the store and terminal was registered.
“Early on, we realised that the Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards operate through a magnetic strip on the back of the card. To accept the card as payment, you swipe the card through the reader. We don’t tend to use the swipe function much in store, so one of the first things we did was create a process for our 500 plus store colleagues so they’d know how to accept the gift cards as payment.
“Because we’d onboarded quite early on, it was then a little while before we started to see people arriving in store with cards to spend. We reintroduced the process of how to accept the gift cards to store colleagues so they understood how to accept them. When the announcement of the disbursement of 85,000 £105 Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Cards by Glasgow City Council was made, we were in a strong position because we’d already been through the process of onboarding our stores and training our staff.
“Our next step was to make sure that our customers were fully aware that we accept the Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Cards, and we used every platform we could to do that. Our marketing materials are mainly produced in-house which enables us to communicate really effectively and really quickly.
“A number of our stores are clustered around Greater Glasgow area. Before the cards had even been distributed, we had A5 posters at all till points telling customers that we accept the Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Cards. So then, when customers received that gift card in the post, they could automatically make the connection that they could spend it with One-O-One. We also used social media to remind customers that they could spend their cards with this.
“The whole purpose of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is to encourage people to stay and spend local. Local shopping was a lifeline in the pandemic and it helped people to discover convenience retail. What they realised was that they could buy little and often, and reduce waste too. The disbursal of the Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Cards helped people to get essentials like food, whilst staying local. I’d like to see other local authorities looking at how they can use their Scotland Loves Local Gift Card to distribute funds in their community, support businesses and boost the economy.
“The two main things that people spent their Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Cards on at One-O-One were utility bills and food, which we thought was terrific. We also had a strong uptake of home delivery from those who weren’t able to visit the store in person to spend their card. People also used their gift cards to stock up on store cupboard items, spending an extra £20 or £30 and getting all the tins and packets they’d need for months.
“Occasionally, we had customers coming in to spend their gift card who hadn’t activated their card. We issue updates to our stores 2-3 times per week, so this was the type of update we’d give to staff, so they’d know to advise the customer that they had to activate the card before they could use it, and that the information on how to do it was at https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/loveslocal
“Being a part of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card programme has been a real help for us as a business, particularly because we invested that time at the beginning. As a business, whether you’re a national brand or a single store, you never really know what benefit being a part of the programme will bring but you have to take a chance. There were probably many businesses in Glasgow that tried to sign up to accept the Scotland Loves Local Glasgow Gift Cards at the last minute but never saw as much benefit because they were later in embedding the process within their business.
“My advice for other businesses thinking about taking part in the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card programme is to do it. If you’re a business with more than one location in Scotland, then involve the relevant people early on so you can get each store registered to accept payment. It isn’t overly challenging to do, but the sooner you start the process, the sooner you can benefit from the programme. You have to be in it to win it. Also, train your staff in how to accept the card, and be consistent with that messaging so you can offer a good customer experience in your business. And lastly, tell customers that you accept the card. These three things have helped us at One-O-One to reap the benefits of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card programme.”