ATLANTA -- Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., is focusing on produce-related cross merchandising in an effort to grow storewide sales, said Dave DeLaus, group manager of produce.
"We see value in doing this more and more," he said during a workshop here at the 50th Annual International Convention and Exposition of the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del. "We're giving customers meal solutions."
Examples of cross merchandising by the retailer include selling certain kinds of melons in the store's food-court area.
"This captures another customer and is more exposure for produce impulse sales," he said.
Wegmans is also merchandising apples and pears in the cheese shop with signage that invites customers to "try this apple with Brie and Gouda."
The retailer is merchandising peaches in front of peach pies in the bakery, highlighted by signage pointing to a "Peach Festival."
The store also sells shelf-stable bacon near packaged meats, along with tomatoes and other items needed for BLTs.
"So the shoppers aren't just walking by bacon, they are seeing the whole display," he said.
In another cross promotion, Wegmans brought corn bread into the produce department for a joint-selling effort with fresh corn.
DeLaus pointed to a number of challenges in cross-merchandising programs, including the need for educating associates in the non-produce departments. He also warned that cross-merchandising efforts need the commitment of top management and department heads.
"Employees in other departments don't have the produce expertise, so you have to get everyone together to work as a team," he said.
Another hurdle is determining how produce items in other departments will be refilled. One solution is to limit selections to "harder items that can sit for a while," DeLaus said.
"We got bananas for the cereal department and their grocery manager refilled them," he added.
Another speaker, Stephen Patt, vice president of sales for Agar Supply Co., Boston, said wholesalers have a responsibility to help retailers develop merchandising ideas.
"Wholesalers have more information about trends and marketing than smaller retail customers," Patt said. "Wholesalers should say to retailers, 'You should see what XYZ retailer is doing; this would work great in your store."'
He suggested that wholesalers might even "take retailers to see these stores or do a newsletter for retail customers."
The result, he said, would be that "wholesalers and retailers could then map out strategies for growth."
The workshop moderator, Marcia Mogelonsky, a consumer-trends specialist, said success in merchandising will hinge on understanding how the need for convenience ties together a wide range of consumers.