In food retail, November and December are critical months. When I was at Loblaw, there was a big focus on winning the 4th quarter to deliver the results for the entire year. Consumers shop differently and as with everything else in 2020 we know this year will be unique. Very few, if any holiday parties and more meals at home.
One of the philosophies of Richard Currie, who was president of Loblaw Companies when I was there, was retail is 5% strategy and 95% execution. The 4th quarter is a great example of this. You definitely need to plan and develop a strategy to succeed, but it is so important to execute at the right time, in the right place.
Join us Wednesday November 4th on our SKUFood Recipe for Success presented by FCC as we will explore what you need to do to win the 4th quarter. It is an important time for your customers so it should be an important time for you.
Winning the 4th quarter requires you be able to measure your results against some goals and objectives. Take the time to define what you are trying to accomplish for some key metrics like sales and service level. Sell through (the product sold divided by the product shipped) is one number retailers will focus on. You can only calculate it with front end sales data, but it never hurts to ask your customers about sell thru. With seasonal items that is very important because if they do not sell through; they sell for less.
This is also a great time to build relationships with consumers and customers, so you can determine in advance what you will do and when. There will be consumers looking for recipes and helpful hints so make sure your social media is ready to go.
Communication with your customers can make a big difference this time of year. You should ensure you both have the same goals and objectives for sales, service level and timing of shipments. Sales in the 4th quarter can be 10-15% higher than other times during the year. They are moving this volume through the same distribution network and stores so you can imagine the challenges. It all works when products are delivered on time and without issues. Your business will be judged on your ability to deliver so make sure you know the expectations.
It is a busy time of year but also an important time of year to get into the stores. You need to find time to visit stores!
Take a moment at the front door and assess the overall approach and understand what they want consumers to see. Consider how your items and your business support this position.
Grab a shopping cart and try to see the store as a consumer does. Look at what is merchandised, where and then find your item(s). Make sure the inventory is getting through the system properly and that any over and above displays are there if you discussed them in advance.
Take some time to talk to staff and consumers if possible. It is a different shopping environment this year. If there is an opportunity to talk to them, they will share valuable information about your products and perhaps even your competition. Staff usually have more time early in the week when the store is not as busy.
If you are a regional supplier this is a great opportunity to let your customers know what is happening away from their office. They do not get out enough and right now they are not getting out at all. Share some photos and ads if they are different than where their office is located. You might not get an answer, but they will appreciate it.
With online shopping for food growing you should also visit your customer’s website(s). Check for your items in their regular spots and any seasonal themes where you should be included. Buy the products to make sure consumers can shop for your products.
As we mentioned earlier, communication is an important component of your relationship with retailers. If there is anything urgent during the season, talk to them as early as possible. You can send them updates but don’t be upset if they do not respond as they are busy. Schedule a time to review the season before it is over. Be ready for the review and start with those goals and objectives you agreed upon before the season.
When I was at Loblaw, we would plan the next year as soon as the season was finished because it was fresh in your mind. Be ready to talk about next year now.
If you want to learn more and get access to our SKUFood winning the 4th quarter template, join us for our Recipe for Success presented by FCC on Wednesday November 4th at 2pm Atlantic (1pm eastern).
Last week we had a great conversation with Anthony Battaglia from Newport Gourmet. We talked about a lot of the ‘other’ costs food producers and processors should understand.
If you missed our SKUFood Recipe for Success presented by FCC last week you can view the replay here.
If you want to talk about the numbers or need some advice just send me an email at Peter@SKUFood.com or give me a call at (902) 489-2900.