Posted by: Simon & Becci | February 10, 2015

Market research

I recently read that the UK’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, was closing 43 of its stores around the country following a dip in sales and profits over the past couple of years.

As it attempts to revive its fortunes and surge ahead of its competitors once more, I wondered if the supermarket giant could learn a few things from how things are done here in Cambodia, where a trip to the market is always great fun. So, here are a few suggestions to get Tesco back on top….

1) Make the shopping aisles narrower


Here in Phnom Penh, shopping is not about wide aisles, soft background music and carefully labelled goods. Its about people, noise, smells and negotiation. Shopping in the UK has become impersonal – you push your trolley around speaking to no-one and then scan your goods at a self-service check out. Here its about chatting to a toothless older lady as she weighs your kilo of carrots. Tesco – bring back the life!

2) Offer fresher produce


Like many supermarkets, Tesco has a “quality and freshness” guarantee, and work hard to bring the best products to its customers. However, I think they have missed a trick. Why not copy the markets here and offer really fresh products, that are in fact, still alive? In Phnom Penh you can choose your fish and watch it squirm whilst the seller skins it alive and prepares it for you…..

3) Create drive-through shopping


Han-Na models her rainy season moto wardrobe…

For those in a hurry, but who still want the personal touch rather than buying their groceries over the internet, how about a drive through section where you can select your goods and pay without having to get off your motorbike? From personal experience, I can tell you that’s its fun in the daytime but amazingly atmospheric at night!


Toul Tom Poung market in the evening

4) Worry less about hygiene


Becci hunts for some bargains (notice the fresh meat and vegetables side by side)

This one might be somewhat of a controversial suggestion, but buying fresh vegetables and meat that have been left out on the side with flies landing on them all day is a treat for both your nostils and your tummy. It is also good exercise – rather than nibbling on pre-packed, pre-washed salad, you have to make sure you spend several minutes over your sink scrubbing your vegetables when you get home!


5) Turn your car park into a food court at night


Without any doubt, this is my top suggestion. There are lots of lovely restaurants in Phnom Penh, but hands-down my favourite place to eat is in the market car park that gets converted into a food court when the sun goes down. Park your moto, pull up a chair, chat to your friends, watch your fried rice freshly cooked in front of you, drink a freshly made fruit smoothie and pay less that $3 (£2) in total.

Just think of the potential for creating community in the supermarket car parks around the UK! Maybe I’ll bring a couple of woks with me next time I’m in the UK and give it a try….


So there you have it. Maybe Tesco will find some of these suggestions of use. After all, every little helps….



  1. Well Said Old Chap!

  2. What a delightfully interesting panorama. It gives us a very good idea of what life is like in Phnom Penh. 🙂

  3. Great blog. Brings back all the memories of buying food in the market! Hope you are both keeping well. Much love flea and co x

  4. I think Tesco’s could learn a thing or two from you! Thanks for writing – am enjoying virtually keeping up with your adventures!

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