The promised arrival of warmer weather is surely now only a matter of weeks away. Four top store owners tell Joseph Lee how to ensure no ice cream sales opportunities are missed this year
Bob Sykes, Denmore Premier Food & Wine Store, Rhyl
Mistake to avoid: Letting the freezer ice up
Solution: You’ve got to make sure that your freezer is prepared for the summer season – that’s very important. It’s always got to be clean and clear so that everything is on show. We’ve got a Wall’s freezer with 12 compartments, so it gives the choice of 12 different lines, but you want customers to be able to see them at a glance.
Mistake to avoid: Having a range that doesn’t meet every price point
Solution: We have Magnums, Cornettos, Twisters and Calippos, but we also do an economy range, so we make sure we have those in stock as well. If you’ve got a family with three or four children, it can be £4 or £5 to buy an ice cream, but if we’ve got the economy range it works out much cheaper – and they come back again.
Mistake to avoid: Not being ready for a spell of good weather, so your customers head to a competitor
Solution: A lot depends on the weather. We try – if they get it right – to look at the forecast seven days in advance. That way we can stock up. We don’t overstock, though: we get enough to fill the freezer just for a few days because we can get deliveries every two days.
Ian Lewis, Spar Minster Lovell, Witney, Oxfordshire
Mistake to avoid: Failing to promote your unique selling point in ice cream
Solution: Facebook is the answer when it comes to getting the word out that the soft ice cream machine is running. We just create a post and spend £3 to get it out to between 1,500 and 3,000 people. My staff all help by sharing it too. It’s much more effective than a sign outside and it’s so easy. We have people asking when it’s coming back from around April.
Mistake to avoid: Stocking up with more cheap deals than you can sell at the end of the summer
Solution: Sometimes we get overloaded with deals – ‘buy these cases and get these free’. But then the weather isn’t kind and you can’t sell them. So unless it’s a really good deal we don’t go for multibuy offers. There’s always a reason that they’re offering them cheap, especially if it’s the end of the summer.
Mistake to avoid: Not planning where to put your impulse freezer when summer comes around
Solution: Ten years ago we refitted in September, but when it came to summer there wasn’t anywhere to put the ice cream freezer. This time, we made sure that we had both a summer and a winter plan. At the moment the space has screenwash and winter fuel kits. But in the summer we’ll have a prime position by the door for single ice creams.
John Parkinson, Broadway Premier News, Penrhyn Bay, north Wales
Mistake to avoid: Having a freezer that’s too small to carry enough stock or so large that it wastes electricity
Solution: I’ve got a small freezer at the moment and I’m considering getting a bigger one. But I’ve got to check how much the running costs will be. It’ll allow us to have three separate display areas. It’s all about how much you feel you can sell in your area: if you’ve got a good population of young people in your area, then go for it. The more space you have, the more you’ll sell. But I think the running costs will be quite substantially more.
Mistake to avoid: Letting the freezer get messy so customers can’t see if the products they want are in stock
Solution You’ve got to make sure people can see the products and they’re all displayed tidily. If it’s messy, you’ll sell less. But it’s just like the card section: you have it all arranged neatly, then customers come in and make a mess of it very quickly. So it has to be merchandised frequently. It’s got to look good or people won’t open up the freezer to make a purchase.
Mistake to avoid: Getting caught out by a sudden spike in demand at the cash and carry when the sun comes out
Solution: I have a reserve freezer in the back, so when the weather is better we can store more stock. There can be a problem when we get a good spell of weather and there’s so much demand that the wholesalers haven’t got any stock left. Because we’ve got spare capacity, we can stock up in advance so we still have something to sell even if wholesalers run out.
Eddie Poole, Poole’s Supervalu of Moir, Craigavon, Northern Ireland
Mistake to avoid: Forgetting to clean the soft-serve ice cream machine, so customers looking for a treat get a nasty surprise
Solution If you have a soft-serve machine, it needs to be cleaned about once a week. If you don’t then it can go sour, and you’ll put your customers off. You lose some of the mix, so there’s a bit of waste. And it takes a long time – you need to set aside a couple of hours, but cleaning that machine is very important.
Mistake to avoid: When sales are very seasonal, customers might not know ice cream is back on sale
Solution: Because it gets so cold this far north, we only bring the soft ice cream machine out in the summer. We normally have a big sign – it’s an ice cream cone that’s about six foot high. You really can’t miss it. We just put it out the front and it brings people in because they know the soft-serve ice cream is back on sale.
Mistake to avoid: Putting all your focus on impulse sales while take-home ice cream languishes in the freezer cabinets
Solution: We use in-store advertising on the freezers to promote take-home ice cream tubs and multipacks. The freezers are back to back and in the middle we have an area where we can put A4 advertising and promote products and deals.
With no added sugar and 9g of protein in every 100g, this brand is focused on providing a healthier alternative in the ice cream category. Flavours such as salted caramel mean it is still a treat, however.
Ben & Jerry’s Topped Pretzel Palooza
Pretzel chunks and hazelnut swirls feature in this new tub variant. It comes weeks after the launch of Ben & Jerry’s Birthday Cake and each tub comes with a premium-priced RRP of £5.49.
M&M’s Peanut Ice Cream
The new impulse ice cream joins a core range of Mars products which includes Snickers, Maltesers and Mars ice creams. The product has been launched with an RRP of £1.76 and arrives at the same time as a £3 price-marked Mars and Snickers tub format.
The company’s dairy-free ice cream comes in a “Magnum-like” format. It is free from soy and refined sugar and is – thanks to its use of coconut milk – suitable for vegans too. Three flavours are available – Chocolate Hazelnut, Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel – and MiiRO bars come with a two-year shelf life.
Nestlé Rowntree’s Watermelon
A watermelon-shaped and flavoured lolly that is, according to its maker, designed to sell well in both summer and winter. Chocolate-flavoured seeds and a £1 price-mark (a multi pack is also available) are other plusses which makes Nestlé confident of success.
For more advice on how to succeed in summer, click here