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2020 has been a challenging year for many businesses and their people. It started as most years do, with great promise for what might lie ahead. Little did we known quite how much impact would be felt as we looked at the news reports from China over the New Year. And here we are seven months on, starting to bring trade back to those businesses that have survived the lockdown, but it’s going to be a long road back to full strength and capacity. That makes it even more critical that we maximise the opportunity presented by every single customer that we entice back to our catering and foodie places. At first it will be a confidence-building phase as we get to know each other again with the new ‘rules’ that will become part of regular life. But then we will be able to look ahead a bit, and realise that Christmas is galloping up fast and we are in danger of doing just what we always did as there’s no time to do anything else. I’m sure you’re with me on knowing how super important getting your Christmas trading period spot on is going to be this year. It presents us with a small chance to fill those tills again and try to make up for all the lost trade over the first half of the year.
Planning a makeover of your layout to fit the products and impact you want to have during the whole pre-Christmas period makes huge sense. It’s not just thinking through the products you want to buy in from your suppliers - although the sooner you tick that off your list, the better to ensure you get exactly what you want and need. It’s the visual journey that a customer will take through your spaces that will determine just how much of that stock you will sell.
Don’t cut the sales period short. You might start earlier of course, but remember Starbucks start with their much-loved Christmas Cup on the first Monday in November (that’s the 2nd in 2020) for a good reason! This will only give you 6.5 weeks of run-up anyway, so to start advertising and talking about what you are planning weeks prior to the 2nd November will build some level of expectation and interest.
It makes sense to take a softly-softly, gradual introduction to your entire Christmas range, by putting together a phased menu and product plan to keep your regular customers engaged and returning frequently during the period.
Making sure your space is laid out to maximise the effect of every customer who comes in (and of all your carefully selected products) will take a bit of time initially, but once you and your team understand the principles of what makes a customer tick, re-setting for seasonal changes will be a piece of cake. Time spent plotting the customer route and planning where each of your Christmas products will be displayed over the trading period at this early point, will help you reap the rewards of a well-merchandised season.
Here are 5 top tips for improving your layout today to make it more effective for you:
1. As they come through the door, what will your customers see first? Make sure it’s what you want them to see. Focus on your visual hot-spots (where everyone passes/stands) and keep those looking amazing throughout opening times.
2. Can they see all the information they need about your featured/ seasonal products at the instant they spot the product - price, provenance, flavour, etc? Include succinct, clear pricing/ info ticketing with all the items you want to sell.
3. Is the product range laid out to capitalise most effectively on the products that drew your customers in to your space in the first place? Position related goods near to these products to tempt add-on sales, and to aid visibility.
4. Is your navigational signage helping your customers to flow most effectively around your space? Entice them to see as much of the space as possible in their visit, as this will ensure a better spend per head.
5. Have you made it easy for customers to make a selection of more than a couple of things? Keep a handy supply of trays or baskets near to the products you want to sell to help customers juggle with all their choices.
Apply these tips consistently and you will find that sales of the products that make more money for you will increase, while the customer has a more enjoyable and effortless experience. Help everyone in your team to understand what you are trying to achieve, and why. Empower them to keep these 5 things in mind and you will ensure that the new way of thinking about the customer’s experience will stick.