Among the nuggets of wisdom shared by retailers, as part of CSP's exclusive "State of Front-End Sales" presentation during the meeting: "We've put into place a multi-vendor endcap that combines some gourmet, upscale candies as well [image-nocss] as an assortment of salty snacks like beef jerky, seeds and some kid's candy. The increase has been a small percentage, but on the gourmet candies and salty items, it's new ground. We're picking up sales that we didn't have before."
Another retailer shared: "We've added an impulse program; it's a hot price on an item (usually candy) and it should be the only item on the paypoint for a two-week time period."
Retailers also lamented about the biggest problem at the front end: space.
Richard Shortt, director of marketing for Wayne Oil, summarized the challenge: "Try to keep the area from building clutter, but merchandising to capture impulse sales."
Brainstorming ideas during roundtable discussions to make the most of space, included working with newer lottery fixtures, installing the multi-vendor endcaps, and using vertical racks to grow up, rather than out.
Shortt said his company is using the multi-vendor endcaps, as well as being selective about what goes at the front end. "We feel new items is what has been expanding the growth in many categories over the years, especially candy/gum/snacks," he said. "We have a merchandiser we display new items on every quarter. If the items show sales during the three months, it becomes an inline planogram item."
Other insights shared at the meeting included: Thom Blischok, global president of innovation and strategy for Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, said that shopper habits have changed permanently due to the recession. "They in fact are going on a buying/consumption diet; less feels good," he said. He added, however, that in c-stores, "small indulgences are not dead. So our first growth opportunity in c-stores today will be: How do we address the small indulgences that people want?" Michael Lawshe, president of Fort Worth, Texas-based Paragon Solutions, reminded retailers that "the senses are the gateway." He suggested having music in the background, using lighting on impulse racks and in profit centers and having the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls, coffee or cookies to enhance sales. Lance Smith, category manager for Temple, Texas-based McLane Company Inc., shared that the multi-vendor endcaps used by Shortt and others can mean a lift in sales of as much as 12.3%, and said some industry experts estimate the lift to be as much as 20%.
For more insights from the meeting, please read the October issue of CSP magazine.