Customer Service is a MUST
Never leave your shop unattended. Always have a sales person or clerk ready and recognizable. A simple name tag, printed T-shirt or apron can make your clerk quickly identifiable. Your clerk should be knowledgeable on prices of all merchandise on display and proper handling. Train them to refer complaints or unusual requests or questions to the management. Emphasize polite phrases such as "May I help you, please?" and most importantly "Thank you !".
Your customers won't buy what they can't see. Be sure your entire market area is well lit with bright non-glaring light (florescent, incandescent, or natural sunlight work best). Brighten dark hidden corners or deep shelves with spot lights or inexpensive clip-on lights. Back lighting certain products can double your sales -- translucent jellies, honey, juices, sparkling juices, herb vinegar's, or any item that the light can shine through. For back lighting use inexpensive strip lights behind a frosted ceiling light panel to diffuse the light or try displaying in front of a frosted window -- beautiful ! For subtle lighting in dim cubbies such as crates, try using Christmas lights or, if you can find them, “tube” lights (white works best). Be sure to rotate any wares that are exposed to sunlight -- even natural food colors can fade.
Bulk or Mass Displays
Pile it high and wide! Crates, shelves or tiered displays work best. The most effective displays run from knee high to just above eye level (approx. 18 in. to 5 ft ). Crates or shelves can easily be set up at these premium heights. Fill your displays full to overflowing (but not precariously) -- single jars look lonely and unwanted. Never display dusty, dirty, rusty, discolored, out-of-date or otherwise damaged goods, even in a sale bin! Better yet, donate excess or close-to-date inventory to your local food bank while it’s still usable.
Wooden crates make a sturdy, moveable display that will last for years. Each bushel crate holds 24 pint jars (2 cases of preserves). For safest results back up to a wall or bolt directly to the wall. Also works well arranged as a pyramid for a free standing floor display "island". A natural in any country market. May be painted, stained or left natural.
POP Display Units
Many products come with their own Point Of Purchase display units -- use only those in keeping with your decor and avoid unstable or cheap displays.
Group your products where they will be seen and attract your customers attention with eye-catching signage. McCutcheon's offers a variety of color signs at a minimal cost. Ask distributors for "point-of-sale" materials. Again, only use what is in keeping with your decor.
Make Your Own Signs
Use color and catchy phrases. Your inkjet printer and desktop computer are all you need to create clever eye-catching signs. Try using cover-stock paper in your printer or laminating your signs to extended life. If you use clipart from the internet, be sure you do not infringe on copyrights.
Multi-purchase pricing tempts your customers to buy that extra jar. Offers such as "Salad Dressings 3 for $10" or "Honey Sticks 5 for $1". Be sure the multi-purchase price is a bargain over the single price. Always post the single price as well so your customer can make an educated choice. Keep it simple and display plenty of the item offered. Even if your are not offering a special price give them a 4 jar carrier box to gather the items with and they will invariably buy 4 jars instead of the 2 they came for. If you notice a customer on a real spree give them a 12 jar jelly box and they will find a way to fill as many compartments as possible.
Let your customers taste your wares -- but only within reason! Some customers will taste everything in your market if you let them. Set up an item for sampling where you can keep an eye on it. Ready to pick-up samples work best -- crackers with jam already spread on them, dips with one-biteonly size veggies or bite-size pretzels, candies broken into bite-size pieces. We do not recommend displaying open jars with spoons for customers to help themselves unless you can monitor the sampling VERY CLOSELY – unattended sample jars can easily become contaminated. Sampling takes time and attention -- stick to something simple. McCutcheon's can help with some sampling products such as snack mixes, dips and chips (within reason). Always display plenty of the product you are sampling for customers to purchase -- don't send them searching. If you cannot sample a product safely, don't bother (your local health department may have restrictions).
Offer Ready-Made Gifts
Prepacked gift boxes, shrink wrapped baskets, etc. go great during the holidays and take little effort. Shoppers love a cash and carry gift ready to give without thinking too hard. Avoid making baskets to order unless you really have the time or tell the customer to come back later to pick it up. Custom gift baskets require time and attention. Offer a wide price range of gifts for your varied shoppers from small sampling packs or large family-style baskets. Remember your time costs money, so don't under price yourself -- make it worth your while. Ask distributors and sales reps if any of their products are available in sampler packs or gift assortments. McCutcheon’s offers several packaging options for gift packs and baskets. For a variety of gift basket supplies call Gift Basket Supply Co at 1-800-basket1 or TBL Packaging at 1-888-206-9030.
Price Your Wares
Price everything !!!! It eliminates confusion for both employee and customer. Use removable price stickers (handy for gifts) and a pricing gun (available at your local office supply store). We recommend the PriMark L-14 for an average size shop (we have used this one for years). Available at a reasonable price from Price Marker Plus at 1-800-780-4327 (they also sell price stickers and do repairs). Avoid using permanent markers or writing on packages, and NEVER staple anything to any package! If you use a scanner at your register, post your pricing next to the product, but keep it simple—don’t distract from your product display with too may signs or posters.
Coupons can bring in many new customers if done properly. Beware of fancy inserts in the paper that often get thrown away. Ask yourself "Would I be interested in this offer?" or "Is this a publication I would look at or throw away ?" Ask for recent mailings in your area and call the participants for some feedback--very valuable info! Don't give away something no one wants--couponing is most effective with popular items--entice customers to stop by. Require a reasonable minimum purchase, such as $10 or $20 (must be stated on your coupon). Always state an expiration date and any other "rules" such as "Not valid with any other coupons or offers. Limit one coupon per customer, please" Keep your offer simple and enticing !