Most customers spend spend less than three minutes in a convenience store, so it’s important to catch their attention with effective use of endcaps and vendor displays, panel members said Tuesday at the National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.

“In this channel it’s all about grab and go,” said Kit Dietz, president of Kit Dietz Consulting. “We have a real opportunity to create interruptions [in the path to purchase] and do a better job of capturing sales.”

Dietz was the presenter at a session called “Leveraging Secondary Location to Grow Center Store Aisles.” Also on the panel were Tom Cinnamon, VP for merchandising for Eby-Brown; Hilary Freedman, senior category manager for RaceTrac Petroleum; Tommy Thomas, VP sales for H.T. Hachney; and Larry Wilson, VP of customer relations for NCA.

C-store customers spend an average of 2 minutes and 19 seconds shopping and only 60% of those interactions turn into sales, said Dietz. Thirst is the major sales driver for the channel. Until they have their beverages, customers do not shop for other items in the store. This makes beverage coolers and fountains ideal areas for candy and snacks aisles, end caps and vendor displays, he said.

“Endcaps play an important role in impulse sales,” said Dietz.

While there can be the perception that customers will gravitate to endcaps and won't go down the center aisles, 82% of purchases are made from primary aisles, "so endcaps can play a bigger role than they do today,” said Dietz.

An endcap can increase candy sales by 52.4%, said Dietz.

While endcaps and vendor displays can be sales generators, they have to be used strategically, said the panel. Cinnamon said a store should have no more than three displays, otherwise it can be difficult for customers to find what they want, thereby diminishing sales returns.

“You have to be efficient and effective in giving your customers what they want,” said Wilson. “Think like a customer. Help them navigate [your store] and find what they want.”

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