A little of you is in every morsel, and unfortunately that little bit of your brand could also be sitting on the bottom of the back shelf, outdated, at your local gourmet retailer.
For those of you who wholesale, you’ve elected to out-source the retail merchandising responsibility of sales to the end user. As I’ve traveled the United States consulting food companies on how to present their products, I’ve recognized the symbiosis of the system. Producers rely upon retailers to professionally merchandise their offerings, and retailers expect information, point of sale support, and display ideas.
Visual Food Merchandising includes proper fixtures, color contrast, sounds, lighting, uniforms, signage, service, and creative display development. Now let’s be real. Despite great products developed through culinary passion, exemplary packaging, and your world-class customer service, your product can end on a hideous display. Does this represent who you are?
Successful merchandising seeks to affectively and favorably present high-end food products in a manner and service level the end customer finds compelling and hopefully worth paying for again and again.
Ideally, retailers will be presenting your products, in the lead display, with no product damage, great lighting, no out-of-date products, and a demo sampling station with a wonderfully cheerful beautiful employee sharing your story with every guest. Consider how you can impact this process to improve your sales and retail visual image.
Successful producers recognize how discounts, value-added service, educational, and point of sale support position retailers to succeed. On the other hand world class merchandisers can make even a mediocre product look great. Let me challenge you this season, to consider the following strategies to improve how your product is presented to the retail customer this upcoming year.
- Expert Advice: Discuss your goals and successes with your highest volume, best merchandising retail partners. Consider working with a consultant or friend that has a knack for great display.
- Review your Budget: What investment can you make this upcoming year to “invest” in building your sales program to support retailers.
- Point of Sale: What fixtures are you using to they technically show more product and less fixturing? Consider having a customer built/designed fixture to supply your retailers, so it’s more difficult to display your product incorrectly.
- Customer Review: If you find a certain retailer is constantly making your product look bad, outdated, damaged, etc. strongly consider whether they are worth supplying.
- Display Ideas: Don’t leave your merchandising to chance. Build 2-4 simple and impactful display ideas, photograph, and supply the retailer with your unique story, and encourage them to share.
- Recipe Cards: Build sales support documents featuring your pride and joy.
- Signage: Supply your retailer with a simple signage package. Feature only 2 unique selling points, such as featuring heirloom tomatoes from Genesee County. It’s not a novel.
- Complimentary Products: Suggest to your retailer items and store that your product might pair well with.
- Call them. Work with your distributor or personally contact your retailers to discuss their plans for your products this season. Share with them ideas that have worked well, and encourage them to prioritize a prime location.
- Commitment: Develop a level of trust and expectations with your retailer. Go there and build the relationship offer to help set the display, sign, etc. yourself. Develop the clear expectation that if you’re going to support the retailer, you’re going to expect their commitment to keep displays filled, signage up, and a familiarity with your company’s unique story to help sell the customer.
Jonathan Raduns is a professional restaurant & food merchandising consultant, who enjoys farmers markets, unique culinary experiences, & ginger kombucha.