Summer Tips for Selling
Posted by Paul Hargreaves on
It really does seem that we are all heading into this summer in a much more positive frame of mind than last year
All the farm shop, deli and food hall retailers I talked to in the first quarter of 2012 had a much better start to the year than last year, and many said it was the best since 2009. So spirits are high heading into the summer! So what can we do in our stores to maximise sales during this busy summer period?
To say the obvious first, it is a big British Year and many producers are making special products to cash in on the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics - yes they will be the ones with the Union Flag all over them! Most definitely a bank of products like this will make an eye-catching display, and certainly most speciality retailers should do this, and why not put up some Union Flag bunting as well and draw attention to all the British cheese and meat that you sell. Indeed some retailers started this in January! I would issue one word of caution though; if these displays are up from Easter to when the Paralympics ends in September then they will lose their impact and customers will stop seeing them. For maximum impact do the British displays in bursts. It may be best to make a big splash for the Jubilee week (1st week of June) and then again at the end of July for the Olympics through August. (Just a quick word of warning here that retailers and suppliers near Olympic events may have to overcome logistical barriers to supply during the games - worth checking out)
Whilst there is no doubt that this is the year to focus on British products more than any other nation, and many of you rightly do this all year anyway, there is also the opportunity in the summer to bring other nations food into focus. The (hopefully) Mediterranean weather that occasionally graces these shores in May-August is an ideal opportunity to have a focus on Mediterranean cheeses, olives, snacks etc. Particularly one nation e.g. Greece, Spain or Italy at a time might have an impact on the weekend impulse shoppers especially if there was a different focus each week for ,say, four weeks. Clearly all these kind of displays require some degree of planning, but there are some friendly ambient and chilled wholesalers out there who can offer you several ranges of diverse products with minimal effort on your behalf!
Just a quick aside on social media - many retailers are now on Twitter and are seeing the benefits of driving customers into their shops when there are new products available. Why not offer some incentive for those coming into your shop and mentioning a key word they would only know about through Twitter. People will re-tweet and bring even more customers in - and so on! That is the positive power of social media. It goes without saying that any kinds of special event or display should be tweeted about until you are blue in the face!
Talking of colours, whilst many of us make a huge effort to make our shops look festive during the run-up to Christmas, how many of us make the same effort for the summer months. Bright or pastel colours or indeed any big displays of summer colours let our customers know we are aware what season it is and we are not just selling the same products as we were back in February. This leads me back to three favourite words of mine - merchandise, merchandise, merchandise! Buy big, make large displays and make your products look successful and striking! Most suppliers and wholesalers will offer special prices for pallet quantities of product which not only make those particular products look striking, but also, because there is a large volume of product, positively reinforce in the customer’s mind that those products are very popular. Combined with offering them some kind of deal all helps to develop a talking point within the store. Also the good producers will come in and do tastings alongside the displays - just ask. Go on, be brave and buy big!
Clearly the time to make the most of these big summer selling opportunities is when the sun comes out! It is well worth looking at the mid-term weather forecast to plan ahead. This is what the supermarkets do, and then, surprise, surprise as soon as the heat wave starts, their aisles are full of barbeque products and there are pallets of charcoal outside the front door. This isn’t ordered on the day the hot weather starts - it is planned for! Most suppliers can respond within 4-5 days so that is all you need to be ahead of the weather. Talking of charcoal I am always surprised how few farm shops and garden centres make the most of this opportunity in the summer. It is certainly worth having a few pallets stashed away you can bring out when the sun shines - there is no shelf-life and it won’t deteriorate, so why not?
Of course, the school summer holidays may well bring hordes of children into your shop accompanied by their parents, who are desperate to find things to do during the five or so weeks of school holidays when they aren’t actually away on holiday. Ensure there are activities for children to do (for the larger stores) or products suitable for children’s picnics (everyone) - why not make the most of pester power, as well as educating families to eat more healthily. These families are also likely to come to your own café for a meal or afternoon tea. Ensure that there are products plugged in the café that are available for sale in the shop and let them know! Cross-selling is king - and we could all do more of it!
A special mention at this point for ice cream - everyone know the large profit margins in selling ice cream cones - Duncan Bannatyne didn’t get where he is today without ice-cream! Don’t leave all the profits to the ice-cream man. Is it worth employing the services of a student to set up a market stall outside your shop selling ice-creams to passers-by who may not necessarily step inside your shop. Even in an out-of-town farm shop it may well be worth setting up a stall in the car park selling ice-cream or even strawberries, asparagus etc…
Some of these ideas may not work for you, but it is worth thinking creatively and doing something different. Successful businesses are usually those that have had the most failures as they are not frightened to try new ideas. Not all will work, but some will and could make a profound difference to your bottom lines this summer - and I am not talking bikinis!
Whatever you do, have fun, and ensure your team enjoy themselves at work. It is well-proven that customers spend more when the workers are happy and have fun at work. So make sure they are smiling even when the sun isn’t shining and have a great summer.