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Merchandising a foodservice program isn’t quite like merchandising the rest of your store, especially if you are adding a brand new foodservice program. There’s a habit, almost a ritual, to visiting your local convenience or grocery store.

Customers don’t look left, they don’t look right. They grab what they need, pay and head out the door.

Merchandising should draw your customers to your foodservice program, which should then allow for orders that are fast and easy. With that in mind, today we’ll cover tips on merchandising and laying out your foodservice program to drive sales and provide the convenience your customers want.

1. Think Front-and-Center

Put your foodservice program front-and-center. For grocery stores, this means prominently displaying your hot case and cold case in your deli department. For convenience stores, if you can install it at your register, that is best. This does a few things for you:

  • If it is a new foodservice program, your customers know you have added something new to your store.
  • It makes getting food easy and convenient for your customers, which is especially important if you have a lot of grab-and-go customers.
  • Finally, it helps reduce staff. You still need dedicated foodservice staff, but you can be more efficient at your register or in your deli program.

Your cold case should be on an endcap, so it stands out without being too far from your hot case. For all of the same reasons as putting your hot case front-and-center, you need your cold case to compliment the rest of your program.

Tip: Skipping the cold case to put cold items into your drink coolers causes your food to be lost and sales to drop. Keep your food and your drinks in different storage areas to make things easy for your customers.

In short: Put your hot case front-and-center so your customers don’t have to search for it.

2. Be Consistent

Organize your hot case and your cold case the same way every day. Of course, if you add new products, find an ideal spot to feature them and reorganize, but otherwise stay consistent. You want your regulars to be able to pop in-and-out with ease. Making purchases as easy as possible will help make them loyal and consistent customers.

TIP: We recommend putting some of your slower movers near the front of the hot case.

In short: Arrange your food in both your hot and cold case the same from day to day.

3. Show, Don’t Tell

People don’t buy what they can’t see when it comes to foodservice. Use clear containers for your cold case, and always keep your hot case stocked. Let your food do its own advertising by looking delicious. This also applies to your hot case, don’t make it hard to see the entire offering of food by putting advertising or signage on the glass.  

In short: Clear packaging = Better sales.

4. Keep it Spacious

It can be tempting but don’t put anything that could become a barrier between your customers and your hot case. The most common example we see is a chip rack around your food program. The best way to do this is to put it on either end of your hot case. This way they can grab their chips as they finish their order and slide down to the register.

A barrier to food can keep your customers at a distance and makes the experience feel less personal.

In short: Don’t put anything in front of your hot case.

Merchandising for Success

While there are going to be more factors for merchandising your store, this will help you optimize. If you can’t adhere to these exactly, start as close as you can. Bring your hot case as close to your register as you can or as close to your deli department as your layout allows. Move items away from your hot case that could distract from the display. Find innovative, new ways to rearrange your store or sell through your inventory.

The key to merchandising your store is to reduce the extra steps your customers have to take to grab their food and head out. The better you can do this while offering great customer service, the more they’ll be back and the more successful you’ll be.

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