Pamela RiemenschneiderAhoy Matey! Don't be afraid to build something creative. After all, stopping consumers in their tracks is the whole point of having your own produce sidewalk sale. Customers love a little drama, a little flair and atmosphere when they shop. It’s why shoppers devote an entire day at Pike’s Place Public Market in Seattle, or why parents take their children to Stew Leonard’s in Connecticut or New York. These markets add interest and excitement to the shopping experience.
And while your store isn’t necessarily geared for attractions such as employees engaged in throwing fresh fish or setting up a parking lot livery stable or petting zoo, there remains one merchandising effort available to most grocers: outdoor produce displays.
Most grocers set up outdoor merchandising as a passive effort, such as lining up bins of watermelon or pumpkins on the front sidewalk, or placing bins of merchandise just inside the store. Sometimes chains will go all out and build a farmers market type of outdoor setup with abundant displays and multiple SKUs. In either merchandising approach, the idea is to create an event to shout out that fresh produce is indeed available, of great quality and priced to sell. The return on this investment is measured in increased overall sales and a positive perception of the store’s produce department.
In short, it’s usually worth every penny to take the risk.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you along.
Have merchandising goals. Is the outdoor produce display for just one day? Or will it be an ongoing venture, perhaps every weekend? How much space will you need? Is weather or temperature a factor? How will you minimize the shrink involved? It’s always best to discuss your goals with the store director to determine your short- and long-term plans before moving to the next steps.
Prepare for displays. Time your action plan to coordinate with your adjusted incoming produce orders along with labor to set up and tear down the outdoor displays. If the outdoor merchandising is part of a larger event, you may wish to secure extra merchandising bins, rental tents, and perhaps a cash register, maintenance clerk and cashier as part of your preparation.
Push seasonal or local merchandise. Have a grower that is well-known for scrumptious corn? Another supplier hailed for sweet, juicy peaches? Is the first wave of new crop apple or pear varieties available? Nothing says fall like a bushel-basket-flanked display of seasonal product. Even if the profit margin is minimal, if you promote what is popular with customers, you’ll be rewarded with repeat sales down the road.