5 Methods To Maximize Micro Market Merchandising

March 17, 2016

Tips and tricks to provide customers the best micro market experience through less equipment, better flow and easily visible promotional items. 

Congratulations, micro market operator! You found a great location with a few hundred employees with people at the workplace for at least 12 hours each day from the early birds to the night owls. They wanted a micro market, and you delivered. It was working great – but then you get the call.

Maybe the client thinks the micro market looks empty. Perhaps the client wants a greater variety of products.  You notice sales drop as people stop coming in to see what’s new – because nothing is new. Here are tips and tricks used by successful micro market operators to better increase the sales and merchandising of micro markets.

Think like a supermarket

Supermarkets have a very successful end cap/special promotion display practice that can be transferred to micro markets. Operators already offer some non-traditional shelving – fruit in basket stands, energy drink coolers, etc. These freestanding displays can be filled with promotional items. Aim for high profit snacks or options that come with a special rebate or manufacturer-supplied consumer promotion attached to encourage the micro market users to try the items. Track the sales volume before and after the display was filled to determine its effectiveness. This area should be constantly changing to invite employees back into the market to see what’s new and fresh.

Ever notice how you enter a supermarket at the produce section? It makes the store feel fresh, nutritious, and full of color. Rearranging where you put produce or healthy items can give the micro market the same effect.

Nearly three-quarters, 73 percent, of consumers are somewhat or very interested in following a healthier eating plan, according to the Natural Marketing Institute. Healthy eating is one of the biggest trends in all of food service and a key selling strategy in micro markets. Having better-for-you items at the entrance of a break room and micro market can create the desired vibe, encouraging a balanced lifestyle.

Remember “less is more”

Sometimes the empty slots or products farther back on shelves can make a micro market feel underserved. One operator actually had to count the number of SKUs in a location’s micro market with the facility manager to prove there were more than 80 selections in their “empty” micro market, when the old vending bank had only offered 40. It’s an illusion that can happen quickly. A few beverages from each cooler shelf can create holes that the consumer views as empty. One option is to put fewer coolers in a micro market, starting with one less than what seems needed. This can condense the beverage selections, making each cooler appear fuller.

Also, use coolers with angled shelves so the cold beverages slide forward and present a faced shelf to the customer. This not only makes the market look better, but it is easier for consumers to browse and purchase what they would like without having to bend down and peer into the rear of a cooler. 

Certain types of equipment can also be eliminated based on the account. A freezer, for example, is one of the highest cost per capita investments, but may only be making up a low single-digit revenue percent at the micro market. The lesson learned is that for micro markets, one size and layout do not fit all locations and therefore equipment can and should be adjusted.

Make a statement with ancillary equipment

Micro markets allow operators to offer a greater variety of food, inspiring consumers to make larger purchases and really treat the break room as an eating destination. However, that also means offering a place to heat food as well as essential items for eating. This is where operators can utilize a micro market space to provide a more robust appearance without adding many additional SKUs.

Try creating a display or countertop section that holds all the microwaves, pizza ovens, toasters and other elements needed by the employees. This makes the micro market look bigger and well stocked, but doesn’t require additional products be placed on the shelves or faced to avoid that “empty” illusion. Stations or centers within a micro market can be used to highlight other product categories as well, such as coffee. Create a coffee bar with brewers, countertop specialty drink machines and all the ancillary items consumers use to make their coffee their own. It also helps a driver restock an area more quickly by being grouped together.

Provide a place for the impulse buy

To help increase the overall ticket purchase, try adding a pastry stacker at the kiosk or stand for gum and mint products, similar to convenience stores and the candy shelves at a retail cashier. This can increase impulse buys by the consumer as well as free up space on the regular shelves for other products.

Ensure consumers have a place to set their items down close by the self-checkout kiosk. This will allow them to more easily scan and pay for multiple items without having to fumble to hold all their purchases during the transaction and become frustrated. It will also keep consumers from placing items on the kiosk itself.

Create a pleasant and fresh atmosphere

Decorate the micro market with bright graphics, seasonal promotional materials and even real plants. Look at corporate cafeterias, coffee shops, eat-in convenience stores and other areas for inspiration. Elect to install LED lights in beverage and food coolers. These not only make the products inside pop, but the operator can tout the savings on electricity and promote the green aspect.

There are many ways to maximize merchandising efforts within a micro market – big and small. The return on investment is a happy location that will be a long-time customer and increase sales revenues.