PARMA, Mich. -- Taking best-sellers out of the spotlight can heat up in-store bakery sales.
That may sound ironic, but it is the key to boosting total bakery sales, said Sarah Quigley, merchandising consultant and principal in SQ Presentations here. It makes sense to move destination products and/or high-volume movers slightly to the sidelines because customers seek them out.
"They're the reason the customer came into the department. If you make it too easy to get to them, they'll pick up that item and go on their way, without buying anything else in the department," Quigley said.
She advised retailers instead to reserve center stage for new items or ones that aren't selling up to expectations.
"Put those products in the hot spots -- the places in the department that customers see first and gravitate toward -- and give them star treatment," Quigley said.
Signs above the displays that engage customers' emotions could act as a magnet too, she said. Here are some examples: "Your kids will love you for this" or "Take this to a friend" or "Treat your family tonight."
In a recent interview with SN, Quigley explained how to determine the hot spots in individual stores and talked about ways to stimulate multiple impulse buys, which she said are particularly crucial in the bakery. Surveys show that 90% of in-store bakery sales are impulse sales, but Quigley disputes that figure. She said it probably isn't high enough.
"It's more likely just about 100%," she said. The bakery department's aim clearly should be to interrupt customers en route to their destination with a display so well placed and so appealing they're compelled to stop, she said.
"You want to visually stimulate customers by putting products in the right place. The sad fact is that bakery associates are apt to put the next batch of product, whatever it is, wherever there's room for it," Quigley said.
Quigley urged retailers to make a "roadmap" of the bakery department in each of their stores to determine where the hot spots are and then situate displays accordingly. She also offered advice on what products to put together to help the customer with meal planning and, at the same time, boost bakery rings.
"I recommend drawing a rough layout of the department that shows the present arrangement of display tables. Then, the retailer should stand in the aisle, at the beginning of the department, on a busy day and watch where customers stop, from which tables they buy a product, and make a note of those they miss altogether, " Quigley said.
"I'd actually draw lines on the layout to show the direction customers take."
Quigley explained that the department's flow of traffic is dependent on a variety of factors -- factors that could differ from store to store. And the hot spots differ, too, so it's important to note them on each store's department layout, she said.
Then designate those spots for whatever items need a sales boost, she said. They could be products that have also been advertised at a special price, Quigley added, but she suggested merchandising a non ad-special product, from a different category, on the same table with them for best sales results.
"For example, if you've put sandwich bread or French bread on special, it would be a good strategy to display 13-by-9 pans of brownies, not discounted, there on the same table, maybe on the second tier. Customers will notice the brownies when they reach for the bread," Quigley said.
"You wouldn't want to put another bread at regular price on that table. No matter how attractive it is, it makes the customer think, 'Oh my, which bread should I buy?' and they end up buying just one of them."
On the other hand, the brownies -- since they're from another category and represent dessert or a snack -- could be a second ring, Quigley said. "Especially when the customer feels he has just saved money on the bread."
Quigley suggested building on that same strategy to get multiple impulse sales. For example, displaying a specialty bread, pies and doughnuts together would be a good move because they represent three different eating occasions. Customers would see the bread as a dinner accompaniment, the pie as dessert, and the doughnuts for tomorrow's breakfast, she said.
With all the recent attention to making meal planning easier for customers, the bakery has more opportunities, too, to cross merchandise its products outside the department, Quigley noted.
"I do see bakery products in more departments of the store, especially in the deli."
For instance, she said, she sees more retailers than ever before cross merchandising bakery products with rotisserie chickens. The ones that come to mind, she said, are blueberry muffins and corn bread. "But what about dessert, like a pan of brownies or a pie?" she asked. There's an opportunity there to sell three products in one swoop and not many supermarket operators are taking advantage of that, Quigley said.