Over the past few months, with half-term, Easter, Mother’s Day and the coronation, there have been prime opportunities to introduce new products.
We had some coronation cake with coronation icing on it and that worked well for us. It was a seasonal opportunity and the timing had to be right, but we made a spur-of-the-moment decision.
We are looking to introduce others, and we’ll probably do so on a test-and-trial basis, and will make sure they’re in a promotional position in front of the door, as well as being merchandised in the relevant areas. That means it will be dual- or even triple-sited.
We usually promote that we have a new line in on social media to make shoppers aware, which goes a long way in helping disrupt customers’ missions.
If it’s a product that’s on trend then it could be that we stock it for a long time, but normally if we start to see sales dropping off then we make a decision about whether to keep restocking it. If sales are slowing, we’ll merchandise it back into its specifi c category area – whether that’s crisps or confectionery – but if sales are still strong, then we’ll keep restocking it and keep putting it in that prominent position for a lot longer.
Twirl Mint is a good example. We’ve got that merchandised at the front of the store and within the chocolate section, and it’s still going very well for us.
We’re always looking at trade press to see what new products are out there. We try to be quite sharp and make sure we’re on trend in getting those initial sales.
We’ve got quite a reputation now for having these kinds of products and people will come in, ask for them and expect to see them in our store.
We take advantage of exclusive lines from Booker or presells, but we also take recommendations from customers. Someone asked us to stock some harissa paste and once we got it in, someone else who had been looking for it also purchased it. Listening to customer feedback can gain you other customers as well.
Don’t be afraid to introduce new lines. Unless you expose yourself to these products you won’t know if they’ll work. Be aware of the market, read trade press and find out what’s happening. Be brave and be bold.
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