LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets is changing the self-service section of its delis, adding new products, conveying more product information, and making it easier for customers to find what they want with enhanced merchandising.
Included in newly presented display cases are cheeses, prepared foods and condiments such as a wide range of honeys, fruit spreads, olive compotes, hummus and the like. Officials hope that the newly set displays will make customers think about fresh products that pair up well. The system’s design achieves suggestive selling just by the placement of related products closer together.
“The system improves our product mix and variety and significantly changes how we merchandise our snacks, condiments and specialty cheeses,” Shannon Patten, spokesperson for the major Southeastern chain, told SN. “As part of the new deli environment, we have incorporated new signage, which communicates product background and pairing information to help guide our customers with purchasing decisions.”
The company is organizing the cheese varieties by the way they’re used and/or by how familiar the consumer might be with the variety. For example, even though more information is presented on small product cards, large signs hanging over the self-service case divide the cheeses into three broad categories: blues, shredding/snacking and fresh/specialty.
“We want to simplify the customers’ shopping experience in our delis, and by organizing our specialty cheeses into three categories, we help them find what they want,” Patten explained.
Within the categories, product cards list some of the cheeses’ characteristics, and what they might pair well with. Most Publix stores have wine shops, so wine and cheese pairing has become an important cross-merchandising effort.
“Specialty cheese is a category that continues to grow,” Patten said. “Over the past year, we have introduced several new brands and types of cheese, including 15 high-quality, private-label, domestic and imported specialty cheeses under the label Publix Deli.”
Patten said Publix had previously used the three broad categories to organize their cheese cases, but what is new is the look of the display and the addition of descriptive information.
“The new signage makes it easier for our customers to navigate our cases,” Patten said.
For example, if customers were looking for fresh/specialty cheeses, the description they would read indicates that the cheeses in this category are smooth and not aged, or aged very little, and creamy. Consistency can range from mild, elegant and creamy to robust, flavorful and earthy. Examples in this group include a domestic Brie being on the mild side and Camembert being robust and flavorful.
While most of Publix’s cheeses are sourced pre-wrapped, some are custom cut in-store, and routinely an event will be made of cracking wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano out on the sales floor.
Wood-grained, open-shelved cabinets flanking the cheese display offer condiments, crackers and breads, adding warmth to the 250-square-foot section in the first store to get the makeover.
It’s a new, from-the-ground-up store in Bartow, Fla., opened in October just a few miles from the chain’s Lakeland headquarters. At that store, items such as to-go Cuban sandwiches are displayed near the soups, sending a message that that these two items could make a meal.
“The new merchandising system changes the whole environment of that part of the deli,” Patten said. This is a companywide effort, she pointed out, adding that the rollout to most of the chain’s 1,000-plus stores will be completed by the end of 2013.