One of the themes that recurs weekly in the pages of SN is that of merchandising. The how-to-merchandise story isn't always evident on its face, but it's always there. This week, it happens, there are a couple of news articles about merchandising that are well merchandised; that is, they are labeled as such.
So, with that as a starting point, let's take a look at the merchandising of a couple of key categories, starting with tomatoes, a produce category that used to be highly seasonal, but that now is seen the year around.
As the news article on Page 44 shows, there's much more to do with tomatoes than to set them out for shopper examination. Tomatoes, after all, comprise different varieties that have different uses. Different varieties can be used for stewing, pasta making, snacking and, of course, as a salad component. One merchandising tip in the article is that tomato varieties can be displayed according to their best use. That relegates price to a lesser consideration.
Secondly, as mentioned, tomatoes can be used as a snack item. This use isn't the first one that comes to mind, although up to 35% of tomatoes are purchased as snack food. As greenhouse-produced varieties come to market at this time of year, it's a good time to consider promoting them for snacking occasions. That's because they tend to be smaller than field-grown tomatoes, and they have differing color and taste characteristics, too. This affords an opportunity to turn what could be perceived as a liability into some good, positive merchandising.
Lastly, the fine art of solution selling can be supported by this category. Tomatoes can be displayed in many parts of the store with related meal components, such as olive oil and mozzarella.
Now, let's take a look at this week's Supermarket Ethnic Retailing special report. Merchandising tips are offered on Page 31. One idea has to do with cost. Since many ethnic items are imported, low-volume products, prices can be comparatively high. A produce example: Cilantro may command a retail price point of $1.39 a bunch in an American supermarket, against 5 cents a bunch in Latin American countries. This provides an opening for American supermarkets to offer the product as a loss leader to establish an image, bringing Hispanic shoppers into the store.
Is it possible to bring merchandising considerations to in-store kiosks? Maybe so. The news article on Page 56 offers several ideas about how best to get the most from a kiosk program. These ideas spring from experiences at Lund Food Holdings, Edina, Minn., and are aimed at ensuring that a kiosk doesn't become "the big box in the corner of the store with a sign saying 'out of order."'
Here are a few observations cited in the news article: Employees must be involved in a kiosk program; kiosk offerings must be kept new and fresh; kiosks must be up and running all the time; signs must draw attention to kiosks. And, perhaps most important, kiosks must be viewed as enhancing service, not as a replacement.