Over the years, I’ve found that when I’ve matched the right product with the right occasion, I’ve been able to create increased sales with a much higher gross profit %. Not nearly as difficult as it sounds! Here’s an example: we place wool hats and brown jersey gloves on the counter, directly in front of each cash register, each and every time the weather turns cold. I started doing this 15 years ago in frigid upstate N.Y. and find that it is every bit as effective in sunny Georgia. Our stores each sell many hundreds of these items – year after year at 65/70% gross. The key is to have them at the register when and only when it is cold! Ice scrapers, gas line antifreeze and other chemicals are also good items.
Recognizing that most of us fail to get our customers to “walk the store”, to see the wide array of products that we have to offer, consider instead, bringing the store to them. How, you might ask – Use a portion of the counter by the cashier or a front end cap for timely items: Slim Fast drinks and Slim Fast Bars at the first of the year for the many who make a resolution to lose weight. January and early February are key months for customers who spent too much during the Holidays and are looking for bargains – perhaps a 3/99c Candy shipper, or a Meal Deal and Fountain drink special – all it takes is a large empty cup with a visible price. February and March of course bring with them the Cold & Flu Season.
What’s wrong with having Cough Drops, Vitamin C, Tissues, and Nyquil right under your customers “runny nose”? Match the Product with the Occasion! Do it all year long and watch your profits rise.
To be even more effective with the tactic, involve your Employees. I’ve had Cashiers wear the wool hats at the register during Cold weather to help drive the point home. Let your employees know how important these extra sales are – some Companies fund both raises and bonuses out of Suggestive Selling Profits! Many others run suggestive selling contests, rewarding those who reach certain benchmarks. Consider a suggestive selling item of the day or the week. Once a Cashier becomes comfortable with suggestive selling, you will see extra pride and satisfaction – done right, it can be infectious for the entire store!
Even small chains now have the ability to create inexpensive signs to bolster sales of the chosen product. Place them in key spots around the store. If you’re in an area that allows Reader/Message Boards, share your sales theme with the motorists who drive by your store. Do the same with electronic gas pumps. The key to effective signage is to be “Short & Sweet” and to change it often.
Jim Callahan, Partner
Convenience Store Solutions