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Ten Tips for Retail Produce Merchandising

Mar 06, 2015
ProduceDisplayWhether your customers realize it or not, the visual merchandising in your store is one of the biggest contributors to their purchasing decisions. As a retail owner, understanding how to use the psychology of merchandising to your advantage is one of the best ways to influence your success.

Of all the departments that you merchandise, fresh produce is a beast of it's own. Since the product has a short shelf life and each item comes with it's own unique storage and handling rules, it can be difficult to properly display in a way that moves the product quickly enough to generate profit. That's why we've created a list of tips to assist as you plan out your produce department:

  1. Fresh is king. Though this probably doesn't need to be stated, the most important thing to do when you receive your load of produce is to review for quality, since the rest of the tips on this list won't be effective if you have marginal product! If your load is questionable, contact your wholesaler and make them aware of the issue immediately. This is why brands such as Snoboy, which are picked to order, can be a key differential in your retail fresh produce program.
  2. Understand how to store and handle each item. If you've got some beautiful, crisp lettuce to display but place it uncooled next to bananas so it wilts, your effort is all for naught. Make sure you understand the ideal display conditions for each item and know what items you cannot display next to each other, due to varying ethylene production. Map out your display and make sure all the items are friendly neighbors.
  3. Start with clean, attractive bins and tables. Using dumpy displays makes the product look unappealing. Use props like wire and wicker baskets, or stack appealing boxes. You want to set the stage so the produce can shine.
  4. First in, first out. Since produce has shorter shelf life, it starts a countdown once it arrives in store. Take time to date each box of produce as you receive it with a black marker, and stack the boxes with the date visible. This may take longer, but will make it easier to keep track of age. This comes in handy to help you order, makes it easier to monitor how quickly your inventory is moving, and when you last received. Make sure that the oldest produce, with the least time left, is the most accessible to customers on your displays so it gets out the door quicker. Make sure that product is getting rotated regularly.
  5. Keep the display stocked. Dwindling supplies deter your shoppers. When people see a fresh display with only a few items left in it, they view the remaining pieces as rejects and the product loses appeal.
  6. Try different stocking strategies. Try synchronized precision stacking, where all the items are carefully piled with important features such as stems all facing the same direction. Keep these displays to 2 or 3 layers deep, to avoid smothering the produce at the bottom. This conveys that careful attention is being paid to the produce, and that customer satisfaction is important. You may also try small quantities stacked high in baskets (as long as the display is restocked often). Make sure you hide PLU stickers, so the customer can concentrate on the color and quality of the items.
  7. Try cross-merchandising. Approach each new display project with plenty of thought, and use your creativity to identify other items that can be tied in to maximize your sales. Keep in mind your limitations in terms of size and colume, and the type of product you are trying to move. The rule is to keep it simple, and not overload the display. If you attempt to pile on too many items, the customer loses focuses on the product you are trying to move, and results in less impact. You want to display these items as both a great deal, and an amazing culinary opportunity to your customers!
  8. Use specialty items to draw people in. While it's important to make sure your produce department is stocked with the staples, you can use specialty items to pique curiosity that brings people into the department.
  9. Boost sales with point of purchase marketing. Using colorful posters, offering recipe cards, nutritional ingredients, or product information can help engage the customer beyond the produce.
  10. Offer cut samples. Research your local regulations on sampling. Make sure to keep your samples fresh and rotated, where they can be highyl visible to consumers. Sampling can lead to increased sales, but if not carefully executed, can become a liability. Sampling is effective because it offers the full sensory experience, allowing the customer to enjoy the item and appreciate the flavor.

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