As the Northeast and Midwest struggle to escape the icy grip of winter, it’s an encouraging sign when retailers display summer merchandise in their stores. It can also be fun for employees to set up new displays that will likely remain on the floor for some time.
Large displays, like patio furniture and kayaks, work well for wholesale retailers and department stores, but they can’t work in a convenience store where space is limited and the goal is to move items quickly off shelves.
What kinds of summer promotional products do you offer in a convenience store and how do you determine the best merchandise mix?
Keep It Cold & Fresh
Before summer arrives, reevaluate your store’s foodservice and snacks, as well as packaged beverages and cold dispensed beverages.
According to the NPD Group, the iced beverage market has shown double-digit growth year over year and average purchases for iced beverages nearly doubled from 2010 to 2014. Convenience stores, specifically, have become cold beverage destinations. Frozen beverage servings at convenience stores and total foodservice outlets experienced double-digit growth in 2014.
Kangaroo Express is one chain that does an excellent job of operating a highly anticipated seasonal promotion – the ROO Cup – which runs all summer long. “The Roo” also pairs discounted ROO Cup refills with snack items with the goal of getting customers in the door.
During the season of road trips, convenience stores can also benefit from high margins on fresh and healthy snacks in grab-and-go portions. Consider pretzel and carrot cups with dips, fresh salads, and seasonal produce such as watermelon and strawberries.
Keep It Fun
Summer is the season of great weather and no school. Many convenience stores stock water guns, floaties for swimming, coolers, and other outdoor-related impulse items like sunglasses. If your store is located near the beach or lake, you may consider stocking towels, beach chairs, and boogie or skim boards.
Keep It HBC
There has been a lot of channel blurring between convenience stores and drug stores in recent years. In the summertime, convenience stores stand to profit from the health and beauty category by offering products such as sunscreen and after-sun care, lip balm and insect spray. Travelers might also need antacids, allergy remedies, tissues, wet wipes, travel-sized toothpaste, toothbrushes and other toiletries.
Keep It Regional
Obviously, a 7-Eleven in New York City shouldn’t have the same beachside offerings as a 7-Eleven in Daytona Beach, Fla. Whether you operate a five convenience stores or 50, get to know your customers and the types of activities they enjoy. Find out what the local scene is like and adjust offerings according to regional preferences.
For instance, if fishing is a popular local activity, you may want to devote part of your store to bait and tackle. If you operate near a park or outdoor concert venue, perhaps you can offer rain ponchos and umbrellas.
The success of summer promotions largely depends on effective communication, including your ability to promote seasonal merchandise. Shout it from the rooftops! As a retailer, you can’t afford to devote valuable floor space to products and promotions without first promoting and then measuring the success of these promotions across your network.
Communicate with your employees to improve retail execution. Use real-time analytics to tweak merchandise mixes and optimize sales.