When ever you develop a product mix it's important to make sure that you have a high-level frame work to limit missing any "types of items" that could offer opportunity. In my work coaching small markets, hospitality companies, and travel outlets to improve their profitability this is one of the key areas I regularly find opportunities. There's a few ways to help ensure you're not just putting up items in a beverage cooler hoping for the best, but instead be better positioned to meet the needs of customers entering your market.
Here's some tips I would recommend:
- Tweaking in the Mix: Don't let your product mix stay static. Review your entire offering at a minimum every 3 to 6 months. As you know trends develop which may leave big opportunities.
- Brand Recognition: Believe it or not there are so many beverages out there you've never even heard of 1000s of them. Obscure brands all need a fighting chance, but in small food markets or grab and go cases optimizing key brands people like and know is important. Many new items will likely require sampling to gain popularity or purchases at a level worth justifying inclusion.
- Work with multiple beverage vendors. This will help you look at a larger spectrum of offerings in the beverage category. Request top selling item lists from them, and consider which size to offer in your case.
- Think about dollar sales. Do you want to sell cans of soda for a small ring? or would you rather the guest pickup a 20 oz. soda instead. Make sure the items you pick aren't limiting your dollar sales. That doesn't mean not to include certain formats it's simply said to consider the best use of your space and the strategy behind getting bigger rings at the register.
- Ask beverage vendors for a plan-o-grams to see how they would select items and space them out, but don't necessarily follow only their lead. Use this is a guideline for that area of the case they are supplying for.
- Be careful about vendor-supplied coolers. A great article was posted a few weeks ago that I shared on Linked In about using equipment given by a supplier. One of the concerns was having vendors dictate only their items in the case. While at first glance this sounds appealing, think about other famous products that might sell better than their weaker items. Should you really take up space? Check out the article from Minus Forty here: Click
- Make sure your cases are well lit: If customers cannot see your offerings well sales will likely suffer.
Make sure you have items for diverse categories: From a quick look online here's a good starting point below:
Carbonated Beverages: Cans, Bottles, Natural, Regular
Bottled Water: carbonated, regular, Spring, varied bottle formats
Energy Drinks and Shots: (Often left out of sets)
Coffee & Tea: Important items include cold brew, and low to high end teas, be conscious of varied caffeine options
Alternative & Specialty Beverages: Any number of unique beverages exist, select items that go well with your food concept, health related & allergen specific items (almond milk, coconut water, etc.)
Juice & Juice Drinks: Breakfast options, kids, healthy
Beer, Etc.: Imports, Local Micros, National Brands, Hard Ciders
Wine & Spirits: Review size options, single service, half to full bottles, varietals
Dairy, Etc.: Milk options, aseptic milk options
Feel free to send me an email if you sense another category would be helpful here that I may have missed: