The micro market business is burgeoning. To successfully compete, operators should be strategic managers and focus on some key areas that will strengthen their appeal to consumers. Focus areas for a micro market include the food cooler, impulse displays, checkout, aesthetics and finishing touches.
Finessing the food cooler
After the kiosk, the food cooler will be an operator’s largest investment in equipment. Coolers also carry some of the highest margin items for micro markets, according to the February 2019 Parlevel article “6 Cooler Tips Essential For Micro Market Success.”
In the article, Andy Irvin of Irvin International, a distributor of coolers and freezers to the beverage, micro market and food service industries, said that in order to maximize the payoff of the cooler investment, operators should ensure the cooler is dependable and secure against food spoilage.
Dependability relies on finding well-made coolers with reliable compressors and having a good maintenance program set in place. This means checking and cleaning the cooler condenser on a regular basis which will ensure the cooler runs efficiently, saving energy.
Irvin also recommends running the cooler on a dedicated circuit rather than the cooler sharing power with other types of equipment. This will ensure the cooler gets enough power to keep the food items cold. If the compressor doesn’t get power, and temperatures rise, operators should ensure they have automatic locking mechanisms to ensure food safety.
“If your cooler breaks down, you’re not selling drinks or you’re not selling food. You need a very dependable cooler to be able to make sure your consumer is happy,” Irvin added in a YouTube video accompanying the Parlevel article. “Because if it’s not cooling their drinks or refrigerating their food and they can’t buy from that cooler, they’re not going to be happy. So it’s very important that you use a quality refrigerator.”
Inviting consumers with an impulse display
While impulse displays can be in different areas of the micro market, the overall goal remains the same: to increase how much consumers spend during each trip by encouraging them to buy items they might not have previously thought they needed.
Enterprise Displays, a producer of micro market merchandising units, states in an article that in general, when people look at items for a long time, they are more likely to buy those items. Operators can take advantage of that phenomenon by placing an impulse display in areas where consumers will tend to be. Those areas include the path to the self-checkout system, around the kiosk itself and the areas where lines may form.
The article also suggests using eye-catching signage featuring messages such as “quick picks” and using certain colors, like red and yellow, to help facilitate purchases.
Impulse item displays should allow items to be physically easy to grab. Enterprise has built columns for its displays that surround kiosks with shelving and baskets for impulse purchases.
Convenience is why most consumers choose the micro market over other eating establishments, so operators should ensure the payment system is easy to use no matter what.
In order to make accepting cash easy, operators should ensure that the micro market kiosk accepts a variety of size denominations and enables employees to receive refunds. This means equipping the kiosk with bill validators and bill recyclers, especially on locations that tend to use cash, according to “The Payment Breakdown.”
Once operators have cash acceptance in place, they can encourage cash-loaded stored value account use so both the consumer and the operator win. Loyalty points and other incentives such as offering bonus funds can be really helpful here to increase sales.
Credit and debit card use is very common, especially among millennials. Operators need to ensure the security of these transactions and can look to major card issuing companies for tips. For example, Visa’s recommendations for merchants include keeping an eye out for anyone tampering with point-of-sale devices or attaching devices to point-of-sale cables and ensuring adherence to PCI DSS requirements.
Mobile wallet payments are another option consumers use that operators should enable micro markets to accept. Operators should work with the cashless payment provider to ensure mobile wallets can be used in the micro market. Some micro market providers even have a unique app that allows checkout using the mobile devices camera and associated mobile wallet allowing consumers to avoid lines at the kiosk.
The overall look of the products in the micro market is extremely important. Consumers shop with their eyes as they walk into a space, and therefore the display needs to be appealing. Two ways for operators to create the best look are learning from color theory research and placing products effectively.
HART Design & Manufacturing’s April 2016 article “How Food Packaging Color Influences Consumer Behavior” cites research studies that found that red, yellow and orange draw consumers by stimulating their appetites. Green, on the other hand, tends to be a color that consumers associate with healthy and fresh foods.
Operators can choose and place products of certain colors in certain areas in the micro market that would be beneficial. They might even consider choosing equipment for the micro market according to which colors would most effectively entice consumers.
Operators should ensure quality aesthetics of the products inside food and beverage coolers as well. “Make sure you’ve got your labels all correct and facing forward so it’s easy for the consumer to identify,” Irvin said in the 6 Cooler Tips Essential for Micro Market Success video. It’s also wise to use gravity kits or organizer kits to allow drinks to automatically slide forward in beverage coolers. Sandwiches should lay flat on shelves in food coolers, according to Irvin.
After maximizing the look and feel of each aspect of the micro market, operators can still achieve more by polishing the overall look with some finishing touches.
Lighting is essential to any shopping experience. LEED AP construction manager Jim Harte wrote that utilizing a lighting strategy can help with sales. His recommendations for lighting include brightening displays to call consumers’ attention, mixing vertically and horizontally placed lighting, using accent lighting and layered lighting over a floodlight. Contrast and creativity within the micro market can keep customers’ interest.
Ensure there is lighting within the food and beverage coolers as well. These are prime shopping locations and should not be forgotten.
Achieving success in micro markets
Capitalizing on areas of the micro market including the food cooler, impulse displays, checkout, aesthetics and finishing touches can help operators gain traction in the industry. Taking advantage of the benefits and options in these areas will ensure success.