Retail coverage is a must if you want to succeed - SKUFood
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Retail coverage is a must if you want to succeed

There are many industry terms people ask about. This year we are taking a different term each week to define and share some applications.

Retail coverage is a dedicated resource that visits stores to ensure products are merchandised properly, priced right, promotions are in place with the objective of getting more exposure and driving sales.

Retail coverage can be an internal external resource. The key is to have a schedule where all retail outlets are visited with the right regularity to deliver the sales budget.

It never sells itself

There are so many things food producers and processors must do to get their product to retail. I understand it is a long list and recently more hurdles than ever. Your chances of success, which is delivering the sales your customer wants, increase significantly when you know what is happening at the shelf. I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to people with products who believe they are great products and they just need to get them to the shelf.

I always hate to burst their bubble, but it is reality…

Even great products do not sell themselves. You need to know they are merchandised properly and that you are doing everything you can to deliver the sales. When I was at Loblaw one of the operations V.P.s used to say, “retail is detail.” He was so right. If you are listed in 20 or 2,000 stores you need to have the confidence everything is as it should be. If not you will miss the opportunity to get the sale.

There are 35,000 consumers going through the average conventional store in a week. A very small fraction will buy your product. If you sell 24 units per store per week that is only .0006% of the shoppers. If your product is not where they are looking or out of stock you will lose that chance.

In house or out-sourced you make the call

There is no model that is right for every business. What I can tell you is most of the big brands invest in retail coverage. Perhaps some of these people are making it difficult for your products to stay on the shelf.

If your business is small and you only have a few retail stores it might be best to have someone from your own business take on this task. Many food and beverage businesses start with direct store delivery. Use this opportunity of replenishing inventory to make sure it is all as it should be at the shelf. Getting it to the store is only half the battle.

The advantages of inhouse are it is your product and you should be best to explain it and have the passion to see it succeed. It can also be a challenge and this task will get put off or even ignored all together. There is also a cost to consider.

Brokers and other companies offer the service of retail coverage. They employ people who visit a select group of stores over and over. They develop relationships with store employees and do their best to promote the brands they represent.

This can be more cost effective because they represent several brands on each visit and costs are shared. They should also have well established relationships at retail which can be worth a lot. There is an out of pocket cost and it can be challenging to quantify the benefits.

Measure the results

Regardless of the model you choose hold people accountable for the investment you are making in retail coverage.

How many extra displays were they able to get?

How often did they go in the store to find the shelf empty and through their own work or with store staff get the hole filled?

How many issues did they resolve when they found out of stocks? There is always a reason. Could be a data integrity issue, a replenishment issue or many others. Track it down and solve it so you are in stock going forward.

How many stores did they visit?

Visit some stores with them. Do they have the rapport with store staff or is it like they are walking in for the first time?

Use photos. Almost everyone has a phone these days and they can show you what they are seeing. The good and the bad.

Use the information when you meet with your customers. Not to be critical of their ability to execute but here is what we found and here is what we did.

Use a store visit checklist to track results and hold people accountable. We have taken our SKUFood store visit checklist and modified it for the 4th quarter. You can download a FREE copy here.

The fourth quarter is big

Retailers put more emphasis on stores this time of year. Consumers are more in the mood to buy and they buy items they would not consider the other months of the year. It is a great time to get in the stores. Even if your products are not seasonal, it is important to show your customers you want to see what they are doing.

We would really like to share photos from coast to coast of holiday merchandising. When (not if) you are in the stores it would be awesome if you shared some photos of your products or just great holiday merchandising. The purpose of our SKUFood newsletter is to share information so what better thing than to show people across the country what is happening. You can send your photos to or

Please let us know where the photo is and we will share them between now and the end of the year.

If you have any questions about retail coverage, you can always send me an email or call me at (902) 489-2900.


Empire and Sobeys grapple with IT issues

Unfortunately IT issues which could be related to cyber-attacks are a reality for anyone in business. Sobeys was in the news this week as they had to deal with some serious IT issues. Consumers were impacted at pharmacies and the check out with system interruptions. Sobeys also had internal problems with their ability to operate different systems.

This is a reminder to everyone you need to have the right protection in place. It can be expensive but the alternative is not very enjoyable.

FCC reports food service sales have rebounded

We know the pandemic had a significant impact on where people bought food. People were home more and shifter their expenditures from food service to retail. In their 2022 food service and grocery update, FCC report that food service sales are now back to pre-pandemic levels. In other words, Canadian consumers are buying 65% of their food in retail and 35% in food service.

This is a big shift and one producers and processors need to be aware of. There is some very interesting information about retail sales too. Overall, after adjustments for inflation retail is down 8%. Every category is different, so it is important to try to understand where you should be.

Where is Peter Speaking?

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Food Island Partnership Nov 18th

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Foodpreneur Ontario Nov 22nd

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Food and Beverage Atlantic conference Nov 24th

Moncton Panel: Leveraging national awards and recognition

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Alberta/Manitoba Getting off the Shelf: Consumer Marketing

Learnsphere Supply chain 123 Nov 30th

Alberta Getting off the Shelf: Consumer Marketing

Alberta Agriculture Jan 26th

Getting Alberta products on the shelf

Alberta Agriculture Feb 9th

Getting Alberta products in the shopping cart

I am excited to join the Alberta Food and Bio Processing Branch for a webinar in February. The retail market continues to evolve as consumers and customers are changing, as well as the impact from the recent pandemic on this market channel. We will provide an overview of what is happening in food and beverage with a focus on Alberta products and how to price products and the promotion plan required to get on the shelf. We will break down some of the costs and your return on investment including: category based pricing, setting your price and getting your price; your trade spend investing with retailers and your marketing spend connecting with consumers. You will hear about growing your baseline and take away a glossary of terms and a tool to help build your promotion plan.