In a year of uncertainty, micro market operators can secure their future by concentrating on customer service, creativity and market research.
Although economists continue to disagree about the health of the U.S. economy, micro market operators can cement their success in 2020 by focusing on the fundamentals of sales. Specifically, they can increase their revenue by embracing three timeless traits of business excellence: service, creativity and market intelligence.
1. Provide outstanding customer service.
When they establish a micro market, operators have two choices: They can be passive—setting the micro market up with a standard assortment of products, then simply letting sales take their course—or they can be proactive: finding out through direct or indirect means which products most interest their customers, then making strategic decisions in response.
The most successful operators choose the latter. To learn what clients want, they can solicit feedback via customer surveys and encourage route drivers to gather intelligence by liaising with customers on their behalf. Jennifer Skidmore Calderon, director of business development at J&J Vending, suggests operators offer their clients days where customers can help themselves to a complimentary sample of a product at the micro market. These events encourage customers to visit the micro market and boost their workplace satisfaction.
Upon obtaining insights about clients’ preferences, operators should tailor their operations and inventory to suit them. They can also stay ahead of the curve by monitoring inventory turns and creating ongoing opportunities for clients’ employees to provide feedback.
2. Captivate your clients with creativity.
According to Automatic Merchandiser’s 2019 State of the Industry report, micro markets’ top sellers are cold beverages, food and snacks. While it would behoove micro market operators to embrace those categories, product selection need not stop there. Maine-based operator Casco Bay Food and Beverage, for example, has found that a variety of non-food items—including cellphone chargers, antacids and aspirin—have also sold well in its micro markets. Operators should therefore consider which other items clients’ employees would appreciate being able to purchase easily at work, should the need arise.
Matthew Hudson, chief experience officer for Work Wear Safety Shoes, suggests other creative ways to boost retail sales, including inventing a holiday to showcase a fun product your micro market sells or hosting an in-store event. Or, you could do what his company’s stores did: provide drop-off points for products that benefit a local charity and offer donors a store discount.
Wrote Hudson, whose charity of choice supported disadvantaged infants, “We built credibility with our local community, increased our sales and helped some babies in need all at the same time.”
Operators also can consider partnering with their clients. For example, operators of micro markets serving charitable companies could offer a special discount on days that their clients host onsite philanthropic events, thereby drawing more employee attention to them. Or they could host their own event.
3. Keep abreast of industry trends.
Operators may gain critical knowledge by keeping up with industry trends and research. For example, Mondelēz International’s first-ever State of Snacking™ report, a comprehensive study of snacking trends across 12 countries, can help operators determine whether their sales strategies are appropriate for the customers they serve. Among other things, the report indicates that 74 percent of young adults “make an effort to share their favorite childhood snacks with others.” Provided most young adults at the micro market location grew up in the area, an operator likely would benefit from providing nostalgic snack products with local significance.
Back to Basics
In weak and strong economies alike, micro market operators can achieve great success by aligning their work with basic sales principles. Outstanding customer service, creative thinking and savvy research are a winning recipe that will almost certainly lead to profit.
Looking for more pointers to grow your micro market business?
These five strategies can keep your operation on an upward trajectory in 2020 and beyond.
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