The Supermarket Strategist 10/08

Get tuned in! In order to appeal to customer needs, you must first recognize their priorities, values and motivations. Each customer has unique wants, needs and desires. Here are a few questions to help identify what means most to your consumers.

>What are customers looking for in a supermarket?
>Why should customers buy from you?
>What benefits do you offer that appeal to customers?

Being tuned in to what customers want and being sensitive to their changing needs will help you enhance their shopping experience and become a better retailer. This will set you apart from your competition and help you build beneficial, long lasting customer relationships…Kevin Ruddy

Growing Your Business

Specialty Products

It is not cost effective for mass merchandisers to micro manage each store. Their profitability is based on uniformed plan-o-grams. Set yourself apart by researching your geographical trading area, and bring in specialty products geared towards your demographic group. You know the drill. Look at ethnicity, age, gender, trends, etc. Then target your unique groups with products that will strike at the core of their shopping needs. For something simple, and you’ll see a difference where it counts.

Customer Insight

Talk to customers as they are shopping
Some of your customers are going to want to talk to you and give you their opinions, and a smaller portion are going to want to vent their problems. There is a big benefit to engaging your customers openly and in public. If customers observe you professionally resolving another customer’s problem they will have greater respect for you and will view your business practices as responsible.

FUN FACTS 

The First Shopping Cart
Sylvan Nathan Goldman first introduced the shopping cart on June 4, 1937 at Humpty Dumpty Supermarkets.

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The Supermarket Strategist 9/26

Halloween is just four weeks away. No doubt you’ve already mapped out your merchandising program. However, have you thought about the extra bits of excitement you can create in store? Window decorating contests, jack-o-lantern contests, children’s costume contests. Don’t forget your employees. Have a contest for them too. They’ll have fun wearing costumes, and you can post photos of the events for everyone to look at with happy memories of the day. Remember, the local press loves community events. Get your PR on and contact local newspapers. Lots of visibility, lots of fun!  Kevin Ruddy

Employee Relations

How about a high-five!

Looking for ways to boost employee spirits? Recently, a New York Times article cited work by researchers who had been looking closely at the value of nonverbal, wordless communication: in other words, physical contact. There is evidence that indicates actions such as high fives, a pat on the back or just a simple handshake can lead to immediate positive changes. It’s really quite amazing. A small gesture that calls for an investment of only a second or two can have such big results. We’re all looking for that kind of return in business!

Growing Your Business

November Promotion

Here are some thought starters for fall promotional theme development. These themes afford you the opportunity to promote fall fun and the start of the holiday season! Create excitement and enjoy the change in seasons. Follow these links for additional information.

National Peanut Butter Month
National Men Make Dinner Day 11/7
Sadie Hawkins Day 11/13
Daylight Saving Time Ends 11/2
Veterans Day 11/11
Hanukkah 11/27
Thanksgiving 11/28
Black Friday 11/29

Did You Know

Which gender clips more coupons?

Results in a recent study confirm that 90% of all women clip money saving coupons, which surpasses men, not a surprise. But what is amazing is that 74% of male shoppers are now clipping and saving. Times they are a changing!

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The Supermarket Strategist 9/12

As baby boomers begin to turn 65, their shopping needs will be changing. Consequently, this demographic group accounts for approximately 12% of the United States population. Are you prepared to serve this groups’ wants, needs, and desires? Start today; develop an action plan to make your store a pleasant, comfortable shopping experience for these changing baby boomers…Kevin Ruddy

Store Operations
Senior Citizen Friendly Signage
Is your menu signage, too far away? Is the type too small to easily read? Consider placing additional signage in front of the service counter. Use a small stanchion or better yet a contemporary pedestal sign holder to display your menu and services. Besides increasing sales, your challenged eyesight customers will surely appreciate it!

Store Operations
Senior Citizen Assistance to Car
Is your store located in a strip mall with lots of traffic? It can be down right challenging for your senior customers to navigate the parking lot with a shopping cart. A compassionate store service would be to have a team member available at the register to assist your senior customers safely through the parking lot to their cars.

Promotional Programs

Weekly Senior Citizen Discount Day
Many retailers offer discounts to seniors – often on slower days. Since seniors are usually flexible with their time, it will help you build traffic during your down periods. Instead of an instant discount, consider using gift card rewards that will assure a future return visit.

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The Supermarket Strategist 9/05

Looking to increase sales with your current customer base? A technique used by many larger retailers is cross merchandising. Also called add-ons, this is the practice of displaying products from different categories together, in order to generate incremental purchases. Examples would be imported cheeses next to apples, lemons next to fresh seafood, and marinades next to steaks. A good rule to follow is to place a high margin product next to a sale product…Kevin Ruddy

Store Operations

No Sign, no Sale!
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but when products are not signed properly or not signed at all, customers will hesitate or worst yet not buy. Research proves customers are weary of products that are not signed or correctly price marked. They ask, “Will I be paying too much?” Check your shelves effective signage provides vital information that customers need in order to make purchasing decisions.

Growing Your Business 

Focus on Your Uniqueness
In our business, many concentrate on “beating the competition.” In some instances that works. However, do you ever think about offering your customers something other than what they are receiving from the competition? It seems like a waste of time and energy trying to beat your competitors’ offers. Customers don’t care about that rivalry. In fact, it may even turn them off. Give them value added offers that they don’t see elsewhere. They’ll appreciate that much more.

Customer Service
Treat each customer as your best customer
As a storeowner, you can concentrate on the little details. Superb customer service is your biggest asset. People like to shop where they feel comfortable and where they know the owner and staff cares about their wants and needs. Remember their names and their favorite products. Seems like a simple thing to do, but you’ll be surprised how far a little attention can go where customer relationships are concerned. Dale Carnegie said, “Everyone’s favorite word is his or her name!”

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The Supermarket Strategist 8/28

Did you know that the average Working American spends over 200 hours a year commuting? That’s enough time to earn a college degree in four years!  Why not make your car, train, or bus a Mobile University?  It’s more convenient than ever to iLearn! Load up your iPod with educational, personal growth, and motivational material.  Most are free from your library or available from providers such as www.apple.com/itunes/ or www.librivox.org
It’s never too late to learn something new.
So make the most of your time commuting…Kevin Ruddy

Growing Your Business

October Promotion
Here are some thought starters for fall promotional theme development. These themes afford you the opportunity to promote holiday celebrations, fall fun and America’s favorite sports! Create excitement and enjoy the change in seasons. Follow the links for additional information.
National Breast Cancer Month
National Dental Hygiene Month
National Diabetes Month
National Seafood Month
National American Cheese Month
National Popcorn Popping Month
National Protect Your Hearing Month
Eat Better, Eat Together Month
Halloween Safety Month
National Customer Service Week (10/6-12)
World Vegetarian Day (10/1)
Word Food Day (10/16)
National Gumbo Day (10/12)
Columbus Day (10/14)
National Pasta Day (10/17)
Halloween (10/31)

Growing Your Business

Integrity Brings Trust
Integrity involves being honest, providing a consistent level of service, reliability, and product availability. Businesses that demonstrate a high level of integrity are regarded as trustworthy. Building trust requires your store to continually place the customer’s interest first. Without integrity, there is no trust, and without trust, there is no long-term relationship.

Did You Know?
Who invented the flat bottom paper bag?
Margaret Knight. Born in Maine in 1838, while working at a paper mill, Margaret thought how much easier it would be to pack groceries in a bag with a flat bottom. This idea inspired her to create a machine that would automatically fold and glue paper-bag bottoms. Her idea was patented in 1871. To read about other great women inventors, click here>http://www.women-inventors.com/

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The Supermarket Strategist 8/01

What does your store smell like?
Upon entering your store, customers are stimulated on many levels: sight, sound, and yes, smell. Most of the larger retail stores understand that smell is part of a customer’s store experience. Give customers a pleasant aroma and it will contribute to a positive shopping experience. Retailers create artificial scent methods developed by marketing companies such as Aromateck. You can also use these methods too, but don’t forget about aromas created by your own store: fresh baked breads, fragrant flowers and fresh brewed coffee. Walk your store; close your eyes and smell! See if it’s a pleasant experience. If not, look for ways to improve this sometimes overlooked aspect of retail marketing.
Kevin Ruddy

Promoting Your Business

Utilize Vacant Store Windows
Is your store located in a strip mall or on a suburban main street? Are there vacant stores? Have a discussion with property management about the possibility of displaying your services in their vacant store windows. It could be a simple window sign or an exciting display of specialty foods products. You will both benefit from the exposure.

Growing Your Business

New to the Neighborhood
Is there new construction in your graphical target area? Consider a cross promotion with the developer. You are looking to capitalize on new families moving into the area and the developer wants to portray a caring family neighborhood. You could supply an open house with a floral bouquet, sample product or event discount coupons. It’s a win/win scenario for both you and the developer.

Did You Know!
How many supermarkets are there in the US?
There are approximately 34,000 supermarkets in the US, each with an average of over $2,000,000 annual sales.

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The Supermarket Strategist 7/24

Do your customers know who you are?
As customers walk your store, do they recognize you and your management team? Could they call you or your team by name? A visible management team is essential. In fact, a practice used by many larger retailers is to proudly display photographs of their management team.

Tip: On a wall in a prominent position, place framed professionally photographed pictures of yourself and your team. With the photos you also need to include names and titles.  This will easily convey to your customers who is in charge and positively affect their shopping experience…Kevin Ruddy

 

Customer Relations Check List
Be Visible
Walk the store and introduce yourself. Thank your customers for their business.

Friendly Store Ambassadors
Position a team member at the store entrance so that he or she can greet customers while handing out circulars and product location directories.

In Store Announcements
Take advantage of your PA system, having store members make personal greeting announcements.

In Store Music
Get your customers in the mood with the right summer time music mix. Keeping them entertained will make their shopping experience better and extend their time shopping. The longer they stay in your store the more they will purchase.

Assistance to Car
It’s getting hot out there, have team members at the register that will lend their assistance to seniors and mothers with children, bringing their groceries to their cars.

POS signs
Check all your displays for price point signage. Don’t have customers not purchase a product because they could not find the price. Note: customers will assume that because there is no price by or on the product, it will be overpriced.

Store Operation Check List

Store Hours Signage
Let your customer know what your hours are. Don’t let them assume.

Shopping Carts
Position a team member in the parking lot during your peak hours to manage carts. Don’t let carts pile up, taking valuable parking spaces or rolling into parked cars.

Front-end Manager
Make sure you have a front-end manager available for price checks and product questions. He or she should also be ready to answer any store policy inquires.

Baggers
Don’t bottleneck the front-end of the store and slow down the cashiers. Schedule baggers for all registers. And remember, they will be the last person the customer has contact with. So be sure that they thank customers.

Restrooms
Be sure that customers don’t walk in on untied restrooms. Remember, a bad experience here will contribute to the consumer’s perception of overall store conditions.

Did you know?
Here are some fun facts about the
number one beverage in the world.

The first batch of Coca-Cola was mixed in a 30-gallon brass kettle hung over the backyard fire of “Dr.” John Pemberton.

Every second, over 7,000 Coke products are consumed.

Coke was the first soft drink in space- it was enjoyed by astronauts via a special “space-can”

The Coca-Cola trademark is recognized by 94% of the world’s population, making it the most recognizable on Earth.

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The Supermarket Strategist 6/15

What are customers saying about your business?  With the World Wide Web at almost everyone’s disposal, it’s easier than ever for customers to voice their opinions. Consumers are using websites like Google maps, local.yahoo and yelp as a platform to express views instantly.  As they log on through their computers or smart phones, these sites prompt them to rate and comment about their shopping experiences. This information will be invaluable for you. Google your company name and find out what customers and potential customers see when they search for your business. If there is any inaccurate information, each site allows the business owner to sign on and answer these comments or post new comments. Be net savvy…Kevin Ruddy

Customer Insight
Where is Your Best Location to Promote and Inform?
A captive audience is always an ideal situation.  You’ll find an opportunity any place in the store where customers need to wait.  A good place to start would be your deli counter. Customers take tickets then wait; they are looking for something to occupy this down time.

Tip: Why not use clear, eye-catching signage to promote store services? However balance is key. Be careful not to clutter and confuse with too much signage.

Market Research
Market Basket

One of the major ways stores get into trouble on pricing is by not paying attention, either to their own prices or to that of their competition. Over time prices will drift, so you don’t want to aim too high or too low. Suggestion: Put into place a monthly market basket. Survey your store’s top 50 consumer products and compare them to your competition.

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The Supermarket Strategist 5/28

What brings consumers in your community to your store? Is it your product selection, your store team, or that heavenly bread that you bake every hour? The truth is, competing with the big box stores is really all about uniqueness. Do you offer home delivery or provide customers assistance to their cars? Have you ever thought about a special parking space for expectant mothers? There are all kinds of innovative ways to catch the attention of your customers. Win them over with personalized service.
Be an original. Be unique…Kevin Ruddy

Promotional Programs
Weekly Senior Citizen Discount Day
Many retailers offer discounts to seniors – often on slower days. Since seniors are usually flexible with their time, it will help you build traffic during your down periods. Instead of an instant discount, consider using gift cards that will assure a future return visit.

CUSTOMER SERVICE
Capitalizing on Your Knowledge & Experience
Many small business owners and their staff fail to recognize the wealth of product information and store services they share with inquiring customers every day. Compare this to the often-untrained clerks at major chains. Recognize the value of the ideas and information you’ve been sharing with your customers for years. Be sure to emphasize this unique service with your own staff, so they will assure customers that you are the experts, and are there to help them have a positive shopping experience.

EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
How about a high-five!
Looking for ways to boost employee spirits? Recently, a New York Times article cited work by researchers who have been looking closely at the value of nonverbal, wordless communication: in other words, physical contact. There is evidence that indicates actions such as high fives, a pat on the back or just a simple handshake can lead to immediate positive changes. Really quite amazing. A small gesture that calls for an investment of only a second or two can have such big results. We’re all looking for that kind of return in business!

Did You Know?
According to the Food Marketing Institute the median average supermarket is 46,235 sq. ft., with weekly sales of $485,346, and carries 48,750 products.

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The Supermarket Strategist 4/30

What are customers saying about your business?  With the World Wide Web at almost everyone’s disposal, it’s easier than ever for customers to voice their opinions. Consumers are using websites like Google maps, local.yahoo and yelp as a platform to express views instantly.  As they log on through their computers or smart phones, these sites prompt them to rate and comment about their shopping experiences. This information will be invaluable for you.  Therefore, Google your company name and find out what customers and potential customers see when they search for your business. If there is any inaccurate information, each site allows the business owner to sign on and answer these comments or post new comments. Be net savvy…Kevin Ruddy

Customer Insight
Where is Your Best Location to Promote and Inform? 
A captive audience is always an ideal situation.  You’ll find an opportunity any place in the store where customers need to wait.  A good place to start would be your deli counter. Customers take tickets then wait; they are looking for something to occupy this down time.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Sample product.  Set up a small manned table by the counter.
  • Merchandise the counter top with high margin distinctive products.
  • Cross merchandise, promoting complementary products such as crackers, melon and wine.
  • Use clear, eye-catching signage to promote store services.
  • Be high-tech and use new counter top digital signs to promote catering, store services, loyalty programs, or community events.

Balance is key. Be careful not to clutter and confuse with too much product and signage.

Customer Service
Everything You Do Sends a Message
There are four ways in which we have contact with our customers:  What we do, how we look, what we say and how we say it.  Everything you do sends a message.  The manner in which your employees dress, the way each of your departments look, the sales programs we offer…all make impressions on your customers.  Determine the messages you want your customers to walk away with, then package your store and your employees accordingly to ensure that information is being received.  Send a message of success and the world will embrace it.

Did You Know?
First Product Scanned

The first product to have a bar code appear on its package was a packet of Wrigley’s Gum.  The first UPC scanner was installed at a Marsh’s supermarket in Ohio in 1974.

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