Cross-merchandising in the grocery perimeter is hardly a novel concept.

For as long as there have been supermarkets, there have been creative store managers who have sought to build bridges between the “silos” of their individual departments.

Instore bakery breads and buns for instore deli meats and cheeses? Check. Fresh produce finding its way to the salad bar and into soups and other prepared foods products in the grocerant? A no-brainer.

Turkey with fresh cranberries at Thanksgiving? Well, duh.

Sometimes, however, those efforts have been impeded by that same silo approach, in which one perimeter department’s gains are seen to come at the expense of another department. If the instore bakery manager is judged by the sales of his department alone, he’s likely to be less inclined to let his products drift over into deli — even if they make more sense cross-merchandised from deli products.

What’s becoming more and more clear, however, is that the grocers of today can’t afford to have that kind of us-versus-them mentality. In the battle to stay relevant in the digital age, the supermarkets that thrive are those that find new creative opportunities to offer their consumers convenience and variety in a way their competition doesn’t.

And cross-merchandising within the perimeter is one of the top ways of doing just that.


Equipment’s central role

With more and more grocery retailers looking to provide today’s consumers with a one-stop shopping experience, cross merchandising in the fresh perimeter and throughout the store is seeing a big increase, says Joe McAuliffe, dealer sales manager for Milwaukee-based equipment manufacturer Hatco Corp.

“We definitely see a lot more of that beginning to happen,” he says. “When people go through the store to get their groceries today, there are a lot more food options available to them. Retailers are trying to create areas where multiple things get done. Instead of shopping at the grocery, then going to a QSR if they don’t feel like cooking after shopping, they can do everything under one roof.”

Wood-fired pizzas, sushi bars, wing bars, kiosks with induction cookers, carving stations — the number of prepared food options goes on and on, McAuliffe says, and cross-merchandising plays a central role in combining items from throughout the store in creative ways.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is in the prepared foods arena,” he says. “A lot of our holding cabinets are used in those platforms. New humidified holding cases with glass all around and on the top put the emphasis on the food and help with those point of sale target audiences.”

Heated shelves, strip heaters and other merchandisers also are perfect for cross-merchandising and spotlight foods to make them for enticing for impulse purchases, he adds.

Some of Hatco’s merchandisers have hot/cold shelves that are perfect for cross-merchandising because of their versatility.

“In 30 minutes you can go from hot to cold,” McAuliffe says. “You might have  something cold in the morning in it, and something hot in the afternoon. It’s flexible enough to make changes throughout the day.”

Hatco’s glass holding cabinets put all of the visibility on the food, and the company’s front-of-house units with an air curtain allow for more grab and go opportunities and hold foods at the same temperature for  longer period of time.

How put all emphasis on food, increase visibility? Trends: top trend we see is creating that one stop shop not only trying to attract people to store, trying to keep it, get glass of wine, can of beer to walk around store.


The importance of taking risks

All refrigerated, frozen and hot food merchandisers in any department are candidates for cross-merchandising, says Marjorie Proctor, marketing and design specialist for Conyers, Georgia-based Dover Food Retail, which produces merchandisers under the Hillphoenix brand.

The key to cross-merchandising, Proctor says, is a willingness to be experimental.

“Look around your space and around, on or in the display cases for cross-merchandising opportunities,” she says. “Doing the same visual merchandising year after year gets stale and uninteresting.”

The retailers that stand out, Proctor says, are those who have embraced the opportunity to observe and evaluate the food retail landscape and who always find new ways to improve.

Take, for example, refrigerated display cases located in the cheese department. A multi-deck refrigerated display case can be just as interestingly merchandised as a service case with a little help with foods from other departments, Proctor says.

“Try showing what produce goes well with the various cheese products and using interesting hardscape items like metal, wood and wicker to provide interest,” she says. “With the meal kit trend in full force, this is a great example for a cross-merchandising opportunity.”

Most of the time, Proctor adds, a meal kit is just the entrée. That creates an opportunity to cross-merchandise at the meal kit case to increase basket size with appetizers, salads, wine or beer pairings, spices, desserts and home goods. 

“Why not make it easy for time starved shoppers by making their choice as simple as can be by placing everything they need for dinner in one spot.”


Going mobile

Another great way to up your cross-merchandising game in the fresh perimeter is through the use of mobile refrigerated merchandisers, Proctor says. With the versatility of being able to easily move from one place to another, mobile units open up all kinds of opportunities to support any holiday, season or venue. 

“The key is keeping the mobile merchandiser in a small footprint, such as a 2 ft or 3 ft case length,” Proctor says. “This makes it very easy to maneuver into place and not take up too much retail space.”

A mobile merchandiser like Dover’s “plug and go” Food Retail HSC case can help tell a seasonal merchandising story and make the shopper feel “captivated in the present” by having the opportunity to shop a variety of products, Proctor says. 

“Just think of the possibilities that could be created with one or multiple mobile merchandisers,” she says. “It could transform any department.”

Successful cross-merchandising displays in the fresh perimeter can often do the unthinkable, Proctor says: make people look up from their smart phones and actually focus on something real.

“When a shopper is impressed and completely enveloped in the present, those are the times when a shopper is most likely to buy,” she says. “This supports why it is so important to take the time to think merchandising through and create a show-stopping display that will encourage shoppers to want to buy.”