With the weather warming up, it's time to turn up the heat on your soft drinks sales. Here are five top tips for merchandising your range.

1. Make your chiller unmissable

Your chiller should be easy to find and easy to shop. Soft drinks are often bought on impulse, so the fewer barriers that get in your shoppers’ way the better.

AG Barr’s Adrian Troy says: “Open deck chillers encourage people to buy more soft drinks as they are easier to shop.”

You can make the fixture easier to browse by stocking similar products next to each other. CCEP’s Amy Burgess says: “Group different sectors together, for example, colas, flavoured carbonates, energy drinks, waters and juice. Then stock different flavours of the same brand together.”

The same logic should apply to different sizes. Red Bull’s Rich Fisher says: “Stocking different sized bottles in height order helps shoppers identify the correct size for their need.”

Using PoS can help to divert your shoppers’ attention to new products and bestsellers. You should make sure you are promoting products that give the best margin or have the fastest sell-through rate. Boost managing director Simon Gray says: “Retailers can create interest around the fridges by using PoS to signpost special offers or new products.”

Using supplier chillers as secondary sitings is a great way of promoting bestselling brands in the summer. Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s Mark Sterratt says the company provides support to retailers through branded chillers, planograms and PoS.

2. Introduce offers and deals

Offering a thirsty shopper a great deal is a good way to guarantee their custom and bring them back again.

Fifty-seven per cent of soft drinks sold in independent and symbol stores are PMPs. “In the past year, sales of PMPs have climbed 6% in the independent and symbol channel,” says Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s Mark Sterratt, adding that 42% of consumers perceive PMPs as being part of a promotion.

If you’re aiming to grow your basket spend, then cross-merchandising and linked summer deals are a great way to encourage shoppers to pick up more from you.

Introducing a meal deal with a drink or creating barbecue or summer nights in displays including sharing packs of soft drinks are proven to grow sales. Sterratt says crisps and sandwiches are most commonly bought with soft drinks.

3. Install BevTrac

If you’re looking to go the extra mile in driving soft drinks sales forward, then installing BevTrac should be next on your list.

BevTrac is a spring system that sits at the back of the chiller and pushes all the lines forward, ensuring the display is constantly faced up. Natalie Lightfoot, owner of Londis Solo Convenience in Glasgow, says: “We partnered with Coca-Cola and installed BevTrac, which led to our sales increasing by £3,500.”

The system keeps all lines neat in a row in a plastic tray, that can be labelled with the brand or a generic label like juices or energy so that your staff always know what should go there.

One Stop retailer Sunder Sander has also installed the system in his store. “I’ve installed plastic doors on my chillers too, which is helping me save £400 a month,” he says.

Fixtures with systems like BevTrac take less time to remerchandise, freeing up staff members’ time.

4. How can you use social media to drive soft drink sales?

  • When the sun is out, tweet pictures of your soft drinks display or slush machine, if you have one, to get shoppers to visit you.

  • Use a programme like Buffer or Tweetdeck to schedule tweets for Fridays and Saturdays to encourage shoppers to grab any drinks they need for summer parties.
  • Use Facebook to run a competition with a case of the latest soft drink as a prize. Take a photo of you or a member of staff holding it and encourage shoppers to like, share and comment to enter the draw.
  • Promote your lunchtime meal deals at midday on Facebook and Twitter so shoppers know what you are offering when they check their phone on their lunch break.
  • Follow other leading suppliers and retailers to get inspiration for your soft drink displays.

5. Bring in additional machinery

Any retailer with a slush machine will tell you that sales fly in summer; and given that it is just made from syrup and ice, slushies offer significant margins.

Anita Nye, manager of Eldred Drive Stores (Premier) in Orpington, Kent, says: “Our slush machine is our summer goldmine. We have two machines – one is kept at the back of the store so we don’t run out. It sells well to adults too, as we suggest they add their favourite tipple to it on a hot summer evening.”

This summer, One Stop retailers will benefit from four limited-edition flavours from Slush Puppie. Fruit Salad, Blackcurrant Burst, Strawberry & Cream and Sour Apple will phase in monthly until September.

If your shoppers are demanding a healthier option, then maybe freshly-squeezed orange juice will be more appropriate. Following a trial in Siva Thievanayagan’s Nisa Local Fletton store in Peterborough, iSqueeze machines are now available to independent retailers.

Thievanayagan is on track to make £20,000 a year profit from the machine, which costs £6,500 to buy outright or can be hired from £136 a month.

The machines allow shoppers to squeeze the juice into a bottle and pay at the till.

See more: 5 ways to refresh your soft drinks sales this summer