Develop category footage profiles by individual stores. A good time to do this is in the summer when students--properly instructed--can be hired to fill in prepared forms. The forms should include space for references to store volume by headquarters and other pertinent information such as sales, margins, inventory and names of the supervisor, store manager and clerks. The purpose: to provide a basis for determining productivity standards and spotlighting deviations from averages. This in turn can assist in boosting production and in analyzing department location, demographic and merchandising variations, new and expanded categories.
Take inventory by category. Since inventory taking equires a piece count anyway, why not delineate the various non-foods categories, with ribbon or crepe paper if necessary. Inventory-takers can then provide the category breakdowns necessary for ROII calculations. The figures can also spotlifht significant inventory variations between stores on an inventory-per-foot basis (to be weighted by store volume).
Expand promotional activity. Promotions build sales and reinforce the deparment's image in the consumer's eyes. Take advantage of seasonal excitement and events like National Baby Week. Be creative in designing signs and advertising with selling themes and ideas. Enhance special displays with crepe paper. Bring in eye-catching props like department store figures.
Review the categories on a monthly programmed basis. Each month one or more GM categories and one HBA category should get a complete physical. Study the product section, reviewing every item; wash down the shelves; check the pricing; compare sales and profits with previous years on a store by store basis; prepare a report, including an analysis of promotions and space allocation. Call in the supplies for their input. Put on a supporting promotional event or at least an ad special or store coupon.
Scout the competition. Set aside at least a few hours every month to check the competition's pricing, display methods, new items, etc. This includes checking non-supermarket outlets. Not everything the competition does is right, of course, nor is it always wrong. It's rare, however, not to get at least one idea worth thinking about from these visits.
Brighten the picture at the shelf. Consider installing canopy lighting. It sparkles the merchandise, makes closely packed non-foods easier to shop. Departmental signs and headers add prominence to the categories.
Perk up the weekly bulletin. Provide background on categories and items, sales and consumer trends, and merchandising ideas. Use drawings, manufacturer sales sheets and articles from the trade press. Design a logo or use colored paper for the first page. Write a brief profile each month of an outstanding store-level non-foods clerk/manager or a buyer (use a photo if possible). Adopt a friendly, conversational tone. A touch of humor won't hurt.
Enhance team spirit. Being relatively new, the non-foods department needs to develop closer, cooperative ties with non-foods people at headquarters and stores and between stores. Contests, meetings and prizes can help. So can the weekly bulletin (see next time).
Hitchlike on mass displays. It's down-right foolish not to capitalize on the traffic power of mass displays for grocery and features. Tie in profitable, related non-foods on a regular basis. This requires knowledge of upcoming grocery features, item selection, a display vehicle (wing displays, containers or pegs), and good communications with grocery supervisors and store managers. Mass displays of non-foods features like motor oil should always be accompanied by related items.
Be alert to demographic variations. The adage about no two stores being alike includes the variations between each store's customer base--average income, age, education, ethnic composition, etc.--as well as such factors such as individual store volume, size and competition. Study these variations and apply them to capitalize on opportunities and to avoid the trap of uniformity. Match the merchandinse to the individual store. Some examples: magazines like Bon Appetit and Country Living sell best in high income areas, while Jet is a top seller in ethnic neighborhoods.
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|Date:||Feb 1, 1984|
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