Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Marketing
marketing insights: Think retail to boost sales


Are you a restaurateur or a retailer? Or both? You may argue that a foodservice operation is vastly different from traditional retailers such as Chapters but, in doing so, you may be missing an opportunity to increase sales. Retail spaces are defined as the locations where goods or commodities are sold in small quantities directly to consumers. Therefore, restaurants are a form of retailing. Every successful retailer understands that a properly merchandised store can function like a silent salesperson, helping to convert shoppers into buyers. However, for many operators, merchandising tactics are strangled by decorating techniques. As the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with this week’s decorating trend.” Conversely, the road to profitability is paved with solid retailing strategies. It’s about communication, not just looking pretty.

Are you a restaurateur or a retailer? Or both? You may argue that a
foodservice operation is vastly different from traditional retailers
such as Chapters but, in doing so, you may be missing an opportunity to
increase sales. Retail spaces are defined as the locations where goods
or commodities are sold in small quantities directly to consumers.
Therefore, restaurants are a form of retailing. Every successful
retailer understands that a properly merchandised store can function
like a silent salesperson, helping to convert shoppers into buyers.
However, for many operators, merchandising tactics are strangled by
decorating techniques. As the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved
with this week’s decorating trend.” Conversely, the road to
profitability is paved with solid retailing strategies. It’s about
communication, not just looking pretty.

Restaurants are retail operations, but unlike at the grocery store or
The Gap, the slow seduction towards final purchase is more of a
cerebral experience than a tactile one. At The Gap you can touch the
jeans, try them on and even return them if you get them home and decide
that they’re not right. Ordering a new entrée from a menu is a bigger
leap of faith because it can only be experienced after the order has
been placed. This is why everything in your restaurant must help to
minimize any discomfort your customers may have about choosing items.
Organize your signage and menu in a customer-centric manner that
appeals to how they go about deciding what to eat. Place your menu
outside your front door in an acrylic holder so people can mull it over
and be enticed inside by your offerings. Your menu is your most
important retailing tool, so make sure you leverage it.

Retailing expert Paco Underhill refers to “adjacencies” when he speaks
of effective merchandising techniques. Items on display should be
grouped as people use them. In other words, you need to understand what
customers’ priorities are when it comes to a menu choice. A dietary
restriction may be top of mind or maybe they’re in the mood to splurge.
Pizza is a food that’s often shared, so perhaps they’re wondering if
the toppings can be split half and half. Here’s a hint: you can usually
tell what’s on your customers’ minds by the questions that are asked
when somebody new comes in for the first time. Try organizing your
menus or menu boards according to these segments instead of by entrée
type. This is known in retailing lingo as wayfinding. In other words,
help the customers quickly find their way to exactly what they need.
You also need to have a sensible, logical order of presentation to
increase sales. Sometimes irrational combinations will also work if you
want to coax a consumer to purchase a more profitable item. An example
of this strategy at play would be where a drugstore places the generic
pain reliever next to the brand name. The consumer will be drawn in by
the brand name but choose the generic option because of the cheaper
price. It would seem to be a loss for the retailer because the sales
value is lower, but because the generic pills are more profitable to
the retailer, the consumer winds up doing exactly what the retailer
wanted. Conversely, promote the chicken wings close to your pizza menu
because the two logically go together.

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Never underestimate the power of song. Music is an incredibly effective
retailing tool. It sets the mood and can help to create a celebratory
atmosphere that encourages a larger check. A study in the journal
Nature found consumption of French or German wines could be “radically
shifted” by 35 per cent or more just by playing identifiably French or
German songs in the store. This could be a potent tactic if you happen
to have a nice French wine that sells at a higher price point than the
other options. On the flip side, a 2009 study found that two in five
U.K. shoppers (40.2 per cent) reported walking out of a store because
of its music. Of those customers who bailed, people over the age of 55
(48.1 per cent) were the most likely to walk out. This was followed by
the 40- to 55-year-old demographic (43.4 per cent), those in the $30 to
$100K income range (42.4 per cent) and frequent shoppers (41.4 per
cent). Women and men were equally likely to walk out because of a
musical choice, at 40.4 per cent and 40.1 per cent, respectively, while
those with household incomes over $100K (40.9 per cent) were slightly
less likely to walk. The least likely to leave were the 21 to 39 age
group (28.2 per cent) and those earning less than $30K (29.2 per cent).
The lesson here is to consider your target tribe when choosing your
playlist.

Last, but most certainly not least, food and wine retailers know that
samplings or tastings can help to minimize the risk for the customer,
so the most successful stores rely heavily on sampling to help pave the
way to a purchase. An amuse-bouche will help drive trial of a new menu
item or a dessert add-on.

Think like a retailer and you’ll be able to move towards a fatter
bottom line. Décor is a wonderful thing but in the end it’s really just
window dressing.


Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the
food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She
specializes in retail brand strategies.