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Are you merchandising to boost sales?

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025_YCM_Gray_In-store Feature_1For almost 50 years, Guy D’Alesio Sr. has spent countless hours talking to customers on the floor of the family-operated Glow Groceteria c-store and deli he owns in Hamilton, ON.

As a result, the D’Alesios can safely say they know what their customers want: quality foodservice at a good price. And with that comes opportunities for other categories.

“The snack and beverage categories do really well, and it all goes back to the deli,” explains Guy D’Alesio Jr., who has become more involved in the business, along with his brother, Anthony. Their cousin, Emilia Floriani, also plays a big role when it comes to store operations.

“The deli is our draw, and the offspring of that is people grabbing a beverage and snack to go along with their sandwich or meal. There’s a lot of impulse buying, especially with the snacks,” he adds.

A fresh merchandising outlook

Sreeram Rajagopalan, senior manager of sales strategy and planning with PepsiCo Foods Canada, says the snack category is worth D’Alesio’s merchandising attention.

“The snack category showed 3% growth in the c-gas channel in 2014, and grew more in 2014 than it did in 2013,” says Rajagopalan.

When merchandising snack shelves, Rajagopalan advises D’Alesio to seek out category insights and follow planograms from his suppliers, and to focus on the SKUs his customers will be looking for: for example, potato chips make up 55% of salty snack sales, and therefore deserve the lion’s share of category space.

And retailers shouldn’t forget that while single-serve bags are highly impulsive, take-home sizes are also very popular in c-stores.

“Approximately 57% of snacks purchased in the c-gas channel are for immediate consumption and 43% are for future consumption,” notes Rajagopalan.

Promote a complete offer

D’Alesio Jr. says combos built around deli sandwiches and other meals are a big hit at Glow Groceteria, and that updated technology has played a huge role in allowing his family to branch out into a variety of different promotions.

“We’ve kind of jumped to the Millennium now from the 60s; we had old cash registers that you manually punched in, but we finally have a scanning system,” D’Alesio Jr. explains. “So we’re able to do a lot more with promotions – two-for-one, buy the sandwich and get the pop for this price. We’re a lot more flexible now because we have the ability to do that at the point of sale.”

POS signage puts these bundling deals top of mind for Glow customers.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people are grabbing the combos that we’re advertising. Sometimes you have to paint the picture for customers. It gets them thinking that a bag of chips could be good with pop and a sub, even if it’s the exact same price if they didn’t bundle it,” says D’Alesio Jr., adding that he places the materials near his foodservice and checkout counters for maximum impact.

Give customers the chance to save

Rajagopalan recommends adding a sale price tag on the bag during any in-store promotions involving regular or bestselling SKUs, as shoppers love the concept of saving. “The best price promotions are those that drive multiple sales, like 2 for $6, so you’re rewarding consumers for growing their basket.”

D’Alesio Jr. says his suppliers help by providing POS materials and prepacks, and are also willing to work with him to determine the right pricing for his promoted SKUs.

“We’ll offer a special and we’ll share the cost of it,” he says. “If we’re reducing a product from $1.50 to $1, they’ll give us a 25 cent rebate, and we try to create more volume by selling that product for $1 instead of $1.50, or bundling it into a combo.”

“The store is clean, it’s merchandised properly, and we give people quality products at a fair price, treating them well and giving them good service,” says D’Alesio Jr. “That’s pretty much been my dad’s success formula over the last 49 years. More than anything, know your customer and give them what they want.”

What are their top tips for merchandising success?

1. Use your assets to set your store apart. Build combos around your biggest strength – a high-quality foodservice program.

2. Collaborate with suppliers. Work with your sales reps to find the right planograms, promotions, and innovation for your customer base.

3. Communicate your deals. Place POS signage near the cash counter and in other high-traffic zones like the foodservice counter and beverage coolers.

4. Show them the value. Use price promotions to incent your customers to build their basket size, and call out the savings wherever possible.

5. Make a personal connection. Offer your customers unparalleled customer service and find out exactly what they look for when they shop your store.