Five steps to picnic success
Retail design and merchandising specialist Eve Reid, of Metamorphosis Group, looks at how shopkeepers can maximise their sales as customers look to take their food outdoors – both on and off the premises
THE RIGHT FOOD OFFER
To start off with, don’t forget your retailing basics. Think about who your customers are and what they will be looking for as the weather improves. There’s no point in stocking up with Champagne and strawberries for picnicking romantic couples when most of your footfall is coming from families seeking out sandwiches and crisps. Try to draw up some customer profiles – almost like imaginary friends. Think about what they want, the time (of day and week) that they want it, and where they’re going to eat it (at home, out and about).
Try to work out where your customers are taking the food & drink after they’ve bought it from you. If they are going home to eat in the back garden, then merchandise items like salad bowls, glassware and cutlery. And if they are heading to a picnic spot then try to carry those useful items that are often forgotten: disposable plates, picnic blankets, rubbish sacks, wet wipes. Stock sun cream for the optimists and umbrellas for the pessimists.
CREATING SOME ‘WOW’
Despite what you might think, anyone can present and package food with a bit of pizazz. Don’t be afraid of using a traditional hamper as a starting point for your displays or as an upsell on the humdrum shopping bag. Or you aim somewhere in between with card lunchboxes or a re-usable hessian bag, which offer practicality and smart branding opportunities for you. Suppliers like WBC have plenty of options for retailers, such as those pictured.
PROMOTING THE OFFER
Visual merchandising is a vital part of snaring potential picnickers, so decide on your key promotional locations. Start with outside the shop. If you’re in a high footfall location, entice people in with an eye-catching display and signage that sums up your offer. Indoors, make sure you map out the typical customer’s walk through the shop. Promote items in displays near the entrance and at busy “junctions”, such as toilets and counters (especially for hampers). The till points are also so-called “hot spots” but make sure there are easy-to-grab items, like napkins or crisps. The more effort you put into all of these contact points the more reward you will get in terms of sales.
GET THEM TO STAY… AND RETURN
You may be lucky enough to be next to a park, or in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If so, you should achieve this one easily, provided you follow the points above and the weather stays good! But, failing that, try to create your own inviting space for customers to eat their purchases on site. Shade, comfortable benches and dog water bowls will encourage repeat visits.