If one were to read all the trade publication articles, view all the online pictures from newly opened stores, and visit those “high-end” supermarkets we encounter on our travels, it seems that the way to sell more and more produce can be complex... and expensive! While all these sources accurately outline great merchandising strategies, many/most of them come at great costs, both in dollars and in time. For example, unique display fixtures and case inserts – all providing incredible visual product presentation – can be very costly. So, as a Retailer considering ways to sell more produce, is the decision either to spend big $$ or maintain the status quo? The decision can be much simpler than that and – as a “word to the wise” – we must recognize that in considering more monumental changes, we often overlook simple ones that can have profound sales impact.
I realize that some of these simple ideas will seem almost too elementary to some of you “seasoned” veteran merchants – but I challenge you to take these ten suggestions and make certain you are using them because, if you are not, you are leaving precious sales and profits on the table.
MERCHANDISING TIP OF THE WEEK. Here are Ten Very Simple Ways to sell more produce! And, I daresay, they can be implemented in a single day!
- Make sure you have bags available for your customers – EVERYWHERE! This simple concept will result in a dramatic sales increase. Never leave a bag dispenser empty and have these filled dispensers by every display – as well as located frequently near the refrigerated cases. And, make certain that you have the right sized bags for the items they are in proximity to – larger bags for leafy items and really large bags for sweet corn. I have personally witnessed a shopper put produce back on display because they couldn’t find a bag for their potential purchase. Simple rule of thumb: the more bags you have available, the more produce you’ll sell. And bigger bags sell more produce as well!
- Signs are the Silent Salesman! Customers will rarely purchase an item if they do not understand what that item will cost. The reasoning is simple: is that new variety apple the same cost as a Red Delicious…or as a Honey Crisp? Going to checkout and finding your six apples are $10.00 rather than $3.50 creates a potential embarrassment that most customers will avoid by not buying products that are missing a sign. And signs convey other information that shoppers find useful: country of origin, amount they are saving, interesting usage tidbits.
- Spillovers are a “Speed Bump” that create sales! Spillover displays are an “old school” merchandising technique that provides incredible results. Ordering a few extra cases of cauliflower, for example, and creating a spillover display will serve to stop shoppers in their tracks, highlight your excellent cauliflower quality and value, and lead to extra sales.
- Tray-pack Corn for Sweet Sales! Many, if not most, shoppers are looking for ways to prepare foods more conveniently. That same group really doesn’t want to take their sweet corn home and spend time (not to mention the mess) shucking it for cooking. So, take advantage of that and offer large displays of trimmed and trayed corn – rewarding yourself for your extra effort – and adding sales and profit dollars. At a very minimum, 50% of your sweet corn display should be trimmed/trayed. I highly recommend that you make that 75%!
- Melons, melons, and more melons! Over the years I have “jokingly” said that you could eliminate every other item during the Summer and only offer cut watermelons – and still have great sales. Of course, that’s not entirely true, but illustrates the power of a large cut melon section. And, remember, most cut melon sales are in the “chunks” realm, so create those at store level or order the bulk chunks from Caito Foods.
- Be seasonal – PLEASE! Your initial displays should set a “selling” tone for your customers’ visit to your produce department. That is accomplished when you offer seasonal items on your lead-in displays. Great opportunity to set a Summer selling tone with a great peach display, or maybe cherries. Sweet corn is always a great choice for Summertime sales.
- Aisle stacks at Regular Retail? Fresh produce, by its very nature, is a bargain. Set out aisle displays of items like grape cherry tomatoes, varietal apples, peppers, etc., at full retail and watch them sell! A great place to locate this type display is near the bagged salad section – think of items a consumer would add to a packaged salad and you’ll have sure sales winners (sweet grape tomatoes at the top of that list). Another suggestion: when a new, exciting apple variety comes available, consider a 3-4 case aisle display rather than a reset to incorporate that variety.
- Tote Bags for extra sales! Green beans, red potatoes, Brussels sprouts, sweet onions, peaches, apples…the list goes on and on. Add products in tote bags to your display and watch dollar rings go up and up.
- Re-visit the Fundamentals! Just take a minute and check your department for basic, fundamental operations: are products being rotated? Marginal product pulled and discarded? Cold chain being maintained? Cannot overlook the basics!
- Never overlook Incremental Sales! If you look up that key word – “incremental” – you learn it means “relating to or denoting an increase or addition.” So always be on the lookout for items that simply will be added to a shopper’s cart as a result of purchasing certain other items. Great example: guacamole mix displayed in proximity to the avocado display. While everyone who purchases avocados is not intending to make guacamole, a high percentage are, and not having the seasoning available could lose you a great sale. Hollandaise sauce is another great incremental item to display near your asparagus display. Find spots for all these appropriate incremental items and make certain you order them whenever needed.
So, there you have it! Ten very simple ways to increase sales and profits – and maybe they will not cost you a cent! Happy Selling!