A retail foodservice business is already well into its preparations for what dishes, recipes and special foods it will offer for the 2016 holiday season. The biggest way to increase traffic on the fresh prepared side of a store is undoubtedly tied to cuisine.
But what other ways are there to bump sales when it comes to merchandising? A simple and effective way to increase value and units per transaction is to take advantage of cross-sell opportunities. What related products can consumers peruse while they’re shopping for their prepared foods? As the holiday rush descends on retail foodservice businesses, the challenge presents itself to provide an increasingly focused, personalized experience.
Find a way to sprinkle gift ideas among the plethora of food options. Identify products that complement each other and introduce them to customers while they shop. This means pulling items that traditionally may be found in the center of the store and displaying them on the perimeter, close to those prepared salads, dressings and turkeys.
“Some people have done a pretty big and successful effort at doing that,” says Jim Hertel, senior vice president of Willard Bishop, an Inmar Analytics company. “It’s a real challenge because you’re potentially talking about multiple departments within the retailer. Depending on the execution, you might be talking about something from meat, something from produce, something from the deli, maybe even something from general merchandise. But if you can succeed with it, the cross-departmental merchandising is something I think can be a real differentiator and a big strength.”
One big way Dorothy Lane Market, and other supermarkets, are bringing potential gift ideas into their prepared areas is with PieBox, an Atlanta company that produces reusable wooden pastry carriers.
“People love our bakery and especially our pies and cakes during the holiday season,” says Carrie Walters, corporate chef and culinary directory for Dorothy Lane Market. “These are a great merchandising item to supplement them. It’s all part of looking for things to cross-merchandise with our holiday items.”
The PieBox — or the company’s CakeBox, CookieBox or SugarBox — display can sit among the baked and finished pies as a gift idea. “We sell a lot of pies and that’s a big part of Thanksgiving,” Walters says. “You go to someone’s house for Thanksgiving and they’re making the turkey, so you bring the pie. The idea is, you put your pie in it, take it, drop it off and it can be reused. It’s not a disposable thing. You can even use it yourself and then go to someone else’s house and fill it with baked goods.”
Adrienne Blumthal started PieBox when she found herself without a dependable, sustainable, stylish way to transport her baked goods. She worked with a small team of woodworkers in Chicago to create the first PieBox. They are handcrafted in the US, including leather accessories from Denver that are sourced entirely from independent tanneries.
Another way to push gift ideas is to focus on shoppers who may be buying for the meal’s designated chef. Preparing turkeys requires special tools, so as consumers are picking out their birds, have supplemental merchandising set up to include things like turkey basters, turkey lifters, fat separators and more.
“A couple years ago the whole brining trend started to get huge,” Walters says. “So we sold brining kits and brining equipment. Even if a shopper wasn’t preparing the turkey themselves, they might purchase a kit as a gift for whoever is making the turkey. It’s a thoughtful, unique way to show appreciation.”
Of course, a turkey itself can serve as gift, Walters says. While brining is still a big trend, not everyone wants to go to the trouble.
“Some customers don’t want to have to do that work, so we thought ‘Can’t we just sell a raw, brined turkey,’” she says. “Now we brine our own private label turkeys so that the customer doesn’t have to make the mess. It’s already been brined, but it’s not already cooked. This has been going pretty well. It’s another shortcut to be on the trendy edge of exciting ways to cook turkey.”
Cross-merchandising with gift ideas doesn’t have to be trendy or even all that imaginative. Something as simple as moving pots, pans, cutting boards, knives and other kitchen tools from the center of the store can inspire last-minute gift ideas for shoppers.
“That can be tricky, but the cross-departmental merchandising from the general merchandise can definitely work,” Hertel says. “You can set up some basic cookware or offer something intriguing like special pans to make paella.”