How Compelling is Your Produce Department?

How Compelling is Your Produce Department?

It seems fair to claim that when most of us are shopping, the analytical portion of our brain is in a fairly relaxed state, and for good reason. It needs a break. How often do you enter a retail store and decide "I'm going to study the underpinnings of this shopping experience and discover the nuances of this store's marketing strategy?" Without going out too far on a limb, I would guess the answer for most of us to be NEVER! We simply take our shopping excursions at face value - what we see is what it is. Knowing this as consumers should make us wiser when we present our own marketing/merchandising strategy to the public. Is your strategy subtle, confusing, or maybe not even apparent; or is it attractive, obvious and compelling? The answer you give to this question is critical for the success of your department. How compelling is your department? When people first enter into the produce section are they so blown away by your product, merchandising, and marketing efforts that they cannot help but to begin shopping, or does your department simply remind your customers of every other place they shop and you are simply convenient for them today? The key to success in retailing is to avoid ordinary!


Always put your best face forward. The very first appearance of your department should literally be breath-taking. What is it that your shoppers see as soon as they enter the department? This "first take" that your customers get upon walking into the department sets the tone for their entire shopping experience. If they are completely astounded by your presentation then they will usually buy more than they anticipated. Remember, a good percentage of produce sales are from impulse buys. In advertising there is an old rule - look at your ad squinting your eyes until almost everything is blurred away. What isn't blurred is what you should most want your target audience to notice. The same technique can be used for presenting your produce department. No need to squint your eyes. Just stand at the entrance to your department. If what is most immediately in front of you is not what you most want your customers to see, then it's time for a reset! Here are a few ideas for how to work that first encounter display that will/can make your department more compelling:


  1. First is to ensure that you actually have the department set up in a way that allows for some type of isolated merchandising that is immediately apparent as soon as the shopper enters your department. It may be a large rack or even a free standing display. It is important, however, that you create a stage, if you will, in your department to feature your most prized offerings. This display should always be the last clear thing that a customer would see should they "squint their eyes" while gazing at your section.
  2. Your compelling display should either be one of the following: an incredibly popular item such as bananas, apples and oranges, tomatoes, etc; an item that has strong seasonal appeal, such as peaches in the summer; or an item that is featured on special at an amazing price. Of course, the best impact display would incorporate all of the above. For example, a bountiful, gorgeous display of Red Delicious apples in October, on special for 79¢ per pound. There is no way that anyone could walk past that display and not put at least a few apples in their cart. The sooner the customer begins to put product in their shopping cart, the more likely they are to continue shopping in your department.
  3. In addition to exemplifying great merchandising, your front and center display should set the standard for the level of quality that your customers can expect from all of your produce as they shop throughout your department. Think of this display as a microcosm of your entire section. When a customer walks through the door and sees stunning strawberries first thing on special, with clear signage, arranged beautifully, they will tend to see all of your product in this light. This opening display will either make or break the image of your department. Throughout the day, this display should always look very tight. Keep it full, cull through the product, and have it looking sharp at all times. It is easily your most important display in the department.


Every day before you open your doors, practice this little exercise. Stand at the front of your department as if you were just about to enter. Look at your front and center display and ask yourself "is this display compelling?" If the answer is yes, then prepare for a great day of sales. If the answer is not so definitively yes, then there is only one thing to do. CHANGE IT!!


Simcha Weinstein

Director of Marketing

Albert's Organics