Merchandising Fresh Food

Food merchandising is often ignored or overlooked when it comes to fresh foods. This is especially true in convenience stores where the assumption is that people stop only for gas, gum and cigarettes. The truth is that with a beautifully displayed fresh food selection, customers will at the very least take notice. Noticing is the first step towards purchasing. If they don't buy something the first time, they are likely to think of that display at another point in time when they want a quick meal or a snack. 

Merchandising Begins With a Clean Store

Cleanliness is a key factor in deciding to buy fresh food from a retail location, especially a c-store. Even if the food was prepared and packaged in a clean environment, looks appretizing and is displayed properly, no one wants food from a dirty store. The first step towards any fresh food display is to make sure your store looks clean.  

After you've esablished an inviting and clean atmosphere, choosing how and where to display your fresh food selection is the next step. Here are some tips on merchandising fresh food: 

1. Location, location, location. 
People see most clearly when things are at their line of sight. In order for your display to be seen, it first needs to be visible. Find a central location towards the front of the store where you can put a cold storage disaply and make sure your products are at waist to eye level. 

2. Order the items strategically. 
What people see first should be the most appealing or highest profit point. The products placed at eye level need to be those that will draw the customer in to look at the entire display case as a whole. Ideally these items would also have the highest profit margin, but that's not necessarily the point. The point is to draw the customers attention. 

3. Blocking. 
Products should be placed in such a way as to create an appearance of neatness and separation. Create a visual separation between your products so that as your eyes scan the shelves you can see each one individually, rather than a pure wall of food. 

4. Front facing labels. 
Always, always, always make sure your lables are facing forward. This does not mean simply making sure the front item has the label facing outward, but also every single item behind it. Once someone takes that first one, if the rest of your items are askew no one will see what it is. Besides, it looks messy if the labels are not all in the same direction, which implied an unclean environment. 

5. Use proper signage. 
Your singage should always be consistent with the rest of your store. It visually needs to look like the fresh food display is an integral part of your operation. The signs should highlight important information that customers would probably be to shy or lazy to ask about (i.e. ingredients, pricing, health benefits, vegetarian, gluten free, etc.). 

6. Cross-merchanding and bundling. 
Put items close together in the display that go together. Items such as soup and salad, salad and sandwich, sandwich and soup, crudite cups and yogurt, etc. Whatever you think would make good pairings with the items you carry should be close enough together so people consider buying both or more. Additionally you can also offer bundles indicated by your signage to further influencet this outcome.

7. Good lighting. 
No food looks good in dim or florecent lighting. A bright, warm glow makes food more appealing. The more appealing your food selection looks to the customer's eyes, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Make sure your lighting enahnces the appearance of your food. 

8. Sampling. 
Offer in-store samples. People are much more likely to purchase fresh food if they've just tasted it and they love it. The pitfall of this exercise is when samples are not rotated or maintained well. An in-store sample should be offered by an attendant, not left on a display unattended. Again, this gives the imression of an unclean environment and less-than-fresh food. 

9. Seasonal products. 
Seasonal products capture the attention of the consumer as well. They are likely to take a closer look at a seasonal item than they are at the regular everyday items they see. Even if they don't purchase the seasonal item, it draws them in to the display case. 

10. Regular new items. 
Getting new items on a regular basis also serves as an attention grabber. Even if it's not seasonal, a regular customer to your store will look at the display of food more often, resulting in more purchases, if they know you regularly have something new for them to look at. 

For questions about this article or more information on merchandising fresh food, please contact us at FreshOne


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