What are several best-in-class practices that successful independent operators should embrace?
1. Great Merchandising - The most successful operators are capable of balancing the produce department's small size and have ample product mix to offer to their customers. They might carry six different types of apples, instead of 10 or carry four different mushrooms instead of six. They merchandise based on sets i.e pepper wall, citrus set, apple set, a bagged salad set, etc. They give an ample display size to seasonal and sale items. They dummy displays: make displays look full with less. Quickly discontinue non selling items to make room for new items.
2. Rotation system in place. This helps the product to be properly rotated, minimize shrink and making the department always looking fresh.
3. In conjunction with the rotation system, the most successful operators have a fresh cut produce program to turnover their losses, help margins, and increase sales. They even get creative with recipes like making Siracha mango or cinnamon powder pineapple.
4. With produce prices changing daily, the most successful operators keep on top of their pricing; making changes as necessary to maintain an adequate gross margin. In addition, they are spot on their signage and provide up to date COOL.
5. They take feedback and recommendations from outsiders and incorporate many new trends in the produce industry in their stores.
What technological capabilities must produce retailers have in 2015 to excel a best practice?
I believe there are several technological capabilities that a produce retailer must have in 2015 to excel at a best practice.
1. An advanced scale that helps you change pricing, ingredients, country of origin, and items easily and quickly on all weighted items. Many operators have such antiquated systems that light-years behind.
2. Good register system that helps them keeps good records and provides reports on all produce items sold to identify sales opportunity and improve margin, shrink and buying.
3. Air-Flo systems, fillers misting system and salad pushers- I'm a huge proponent of having equipment that helps cut down on pack out but still gives the impression that the department is full and helps the refrigerated cases work as intended.
4. Produce identification book. Yeah a paper book! In an age of the food channel and self proclaimed foodies, a book that educates both the consumer and retailer on the different types of produce items and provides tips on their nutrition, preparation and availability, is a helpful tool and essential. As they say knowledge is power.
What upcoming trends should independents be considering and implementing into their businesses?
1. Glass door merchandising- this could help in saving energy costs and extending the shelf life of product.
2. Local produce. I truly believe that is this an area of opportunity on par with organics. Local fruits and vegetables should be called out with POS and if possible merchandised together in its own set.
3. Embrace globalization. With nutrition and eating better in our consciousness, the produce industry is sourcing different items from over the world and they are slowing becoming mainstream items in our day to day diets. Items like papaya, chayote, were once ethnic items, well not any more: