By: Fion Cheung Ming Yan
My partner and I are assigned to Glace Ice-cream Shop at the side of the market in Jagna. We had our first meeting with the owner Clementina and her daughter on Thursday.
They were both nice and friendly ladies and willing to share about the details of their business. Sometimes Clementina might find it hard to communicate in English. Her daughter would then help us with the translation.
Glace is the only store in the market specialising in ice-cream-related products. It has a comparatively decent design of the store – with a television to display the menu with a slideshow and also some lighting decorations. I think that this is one of the elements that make the store stands out from the others – when others do not care much about their decorations, Glace provides a more fancy and comfortable atmosphere for visitors.
Glace does not have a record-keeping system. It does not keep track of their sales of products and the purchase of inputs, most of which are bought by Clementina’s husband through online payment who is currently working abroad. Therefore, we tried to ask more about their production to learn more about their cost pools in order to approximate a contribution margin income statement. In order to construct a record-keeping system that requires the least maintenance effort, we might purchase some click counters for them to record the product sales of different prices. As there are currently eight different product prices, some of which only vary around a narrow range, we might also propose to simplify their pricing system for easier sales tracking. Despite the small differences between temperatures in summer and winter, Clementina has mentioned that the sales hiked in summer while slowed down in winter. Hence, we would like to brainstorm some ideas for Glace to offer alternative products in winter to maintain its stability of sales.
In terms of marketing, we would like to design a new logo for the store to attract more people. The logo is placed at the bottom of the counter, which could be difficult to notice. Hence, we would like to figure out if it can be placed at a more noticeable area.
We have also asked Clementina if she would like to have a Facebook page for promotion. Yet, she thought that the page would not help much for such local business. It could be valid as their major customers are those recurrent customers who know their store, and the market is also not a usual tourist spot. Therefore, we did not insist on helping them to set up a Facebook page, especially when it requires additional effort to maintain it.
As we also noticed that it could be difficult to know the exact product offerings from the television, we proposed to help create a physical menu. This not only facilitates the customers to better understand their products, but also to save Glace’s electricity used for the television display. With regard to electricity, we were also thinking to use decorations other than the lightings to save their usage. We could look for suitable decorations in the stationary shops of the market. I think if our proposal helps the shop to cut expenses, it will be easier to convince them to adopt our recommendations. By showing the consequent effect in the income statement, it might also be able to reveal the importance of record-keeping to them.
In terms of customers, they noticed that their major segments include students, old people and kids. When we were having the meeting at 2pm, a few children came to order ice-cream cones. From our observation, we believe that their customers are usually the younger segments. However, it needs a more thorough observation, so we would like to spend one day at the store to observe the entire operation next week. We expect to find out the major customer segments on the day.
In addition, regarding the products of the store, we have asked for the information about which flavour or item would be the most popular ones. Still, they did not have a concrete idea on it. Hence, customers’ preferences and spending patterns would also be one of the expected findings from our observation next week.
In terms of competitors, they believe that Glace has no competitors as there is no other ice-cream shop in the market. However, I think that indirect competition might still exist as there is a bakery, Our Deli Bread, selling packaged ice-cream cones. It requires further investigation into the impacts of the bakery’s offering of ice-cream on Glace. Here the competitive advantage of Glace would be its obvious offering of ice-cream as Our Deli Bread does not show any information about ice-cream cones on their menu.
I think we are having a clear direction after the first business meeting. I hope that we could have a more established relationship with Clementina and a more thorough understanding on the business as we visit them more next week. With better knowledge on Glace, I hope that we would eventually work out a feasible and sustainable plan to improve its business.