This week, however, I want to talk about ordering for the lead ad item of a given week.
There’s a certain life cycle, an identifiable trend — call it an art form — to ordering for this item correctly.
Suppose the lead item is navel oranges. I like talking about navels because between November and late May the popular item is a frequent lead item and it is in just about every produce department’s top 10 list for overall volume and sales.
- Step 1: Projection and merchandising planning.
Think about the best placement for the navel oranges. Keep them on the current table? Move the display to draw customers deeper into your department? Do you want to drive extra sales by building a secondary display in the lobby or elsewhere?
Using your ad notes (start a file if you don’t have one), reflect on prior ad movement for the item. If you sold 10 pallets last year for a similar ad (and didn’t run out), chances are pretty good that you’ll come close to repeating the same volume. Submit your projection to your buyer or merchandiser, and keep these variables in mind when making adjustments, up or down: price, quality and competitive changes since last year.
- Step 2: Order early for display building.
You’ll need to “fill the pipeline,” as buyers say. This means ordering not only enough navels to build your creation (typically meaning bringing in the fruit one or two days before the ad breaks) but also with an ample supply — call it one or two pallets worth — to support sales during the first couple of ad days.
- Step 3: Maintain steady supply.
The first day or two of sales are an important barometer of what to expect for the duration of the ad. Brisk sales during this time general point to a strong ad and increased sales through the weekend. Submit orders relying not only on your history but also act on your experience.
Anticipate business — expecting the best, not fearing the worst.
- Step 4: Winding down the ad.
You walk in on Monday after a successful sales weekend. Ideally, you have ordered enough navels to keep the displays full, clean and regularly rotated. Now’s the time to assess how to return to normal volume. If you’re fortunate enough to have ordered enough (but not too much), then it’s time to let the fruit sell down and disassemble the spillovers or secondary displays.
Then start the process all over again for the next ad and next lead item.
Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 30 years of experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions.
What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.