Basic Display Making Tips

Creative, beautiful, dynamic and effective display-making is imperative for a successful organic produce department. While everyone seems to agree that display-making is important, it can often become an overlooked priority in many produce departments as the abundance of operational tasks can turn our attention away from aesthetics and appearance. Here are a few key points to keep in mind as you regularly set your department.


Be Completely Set Up When Your Store Opens Each Morning: This is critical! No matter how gorgeous and tight your displays look, if they are all not ready by the opening bell, your department will not look well merchandised. Rather than put all of the set up pressure on your morning crew, allocate most of the dry rack set up to your evening people. Too often the night shift is thought of as merely a maintenance crew. In many ways they should be your most valuable set up team - taking advantage of the slower evening/night hours to set the department for the morning.


Wet Rack Set: Your wet rack (refrigerated case) set should typically lead off with items that are very popular and rather inexpensive. The goal is to get your shoppers putting product into their carts as early in their shopping experience as possible. The sooner they are taking produce off the rack once they enter your department, the better. A strategy that is sometimes used is to place more obscure specialty produce as the lead-off items, thinking that by having them first they might catch the shopper’s eye, and certainly won’t get overlooked. It is true, if they are placed in the lead-off spot, they will indeed get noticed. The pitfall is that the high prices will be noticed as well. It is very important to have items like cabbage and carrots near the beginning of your set to create an early price image that is moderate and reasonable. During the peak of their seasons, there are often a few organic items that are priced at, or very close to conventional. These should lead.


Think in terms of groups with your wet rack set. Lettuce and salad vegetables go together and cooking or stir-fry vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, etc. work well together in a set. The more your set flows in favor of your customer, the more produce you will sell. When setting your rack, it’s actually best not to think like a produce merchandiser or produce expert; it’s best to think like a shopper!


Don’t always place the same items in the same place on the rack. If your customers get too used to going immediately to the same place for the items they need, they may not explore your department enough to see new items. By mixing up the display your shoppers can’t get too comfortable being creatures of habit as they shop. A healthy alertness to where certain items are located can be very helpful in generating impulse sales.


Dry Fruit Rack Set: Typically the first thing that shoppers see when they enter a produce department is the dry/fruit set. With that being the case, whatever your customers first see when they enter the department will set the tone for their entire produce shopping experience. The goal therefore should be to completely blow away your customers. The first thing they should see when entering the department is a dry table that screams with the best of the season’s colors and flavors. If it’s autumn they should see a beautiful array of apples and pears; if it’s winter the table should abound with citrus fruit, and if it’s summertime, the soft fruit explosion should be simply overwhelming.


Onions and Potatoes: Most produce sections relegate the potato and onion display to the backside of the last table in the department. Also, it is pretty rare that you see this area completely set up and ready to go by opening time. For some reason, this section has become the step-child of the produce department - often overlooked and easy to put off when it comes to display-making and rotation. The best way to think of this section is that your department will only look as good as your weakest display. Nine out of ten produce departments will admit that their potato and onion section is their weakest display. Bringing creativity, excellence and beauty to this section of your department will enhance your overall look tremendously. Keep in mind that most potatoes and onions are low cost/high margin items. The more attractive their presence is, and the better they sell - the more profit they will contribute to your produce department.