COVID-19 Cleanup

It’s time to sweep away the pandemic blues – and maximize profits – with a store-wide rejuvenation.

You walk into someone else’s beer store. Enter the first cramped, dead-end aisle and crane your neck, scanning the hodge-podge of styles and brands for the beers you want – no luck. You keep searching, finally finding a West Coast IPA you like tucked in the corner of a cooler door full of pastry stouts. Some cases of hard seltzer sit in a nearby corner, and you think about getting some, but the seltzer is warm, and there’s no listed price. You decide to grab a case of your go-to light lager instead… but it’s nowhere to be found, despite being one of the biggest brands in the market. You ask the shadowy figure behind the register if there’s any in the back, and they cackle. “We haven’t carried that in over 50 years!” You scream in horror. “We haven’t carried that in over 50 years!” You scream in horror.

Then you wake up and breathe a sigh of relief. What a nightmare! But at least you know your store could never look like that. Those mistakes, from overstocking niche craft beer at the expense of big beer brands to creating a confusing maze of aisles, would lose you customers and profits. When you enter your store the next morning, though, you see things with fresh eyes. The pandemic has forced you to put off plenty of updates and resets, and the store isn’t anything like your nightmare, but… It could use a little spring cleaning. Luckily, your friendly Kramer Beverage salesperson has just stopped by, and they’re happy to help you troubleshoot and figure out what changes are best for your store.

 

Identifying Problem Areas

Every store in every neighborhood has different customer bases, SKU priorities, and goals, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach – knowing what’s an important point of difference that brings customers in and what’s a problem that sends them away can be challenging. That’s why your sales rep can be your most important ally during a reset. “Working collaboratively with the retailer is important so that you can plan the best layout for their store,” says Area Sales Manager John Murphy. “If the store has comprehensive data to share, you can help identify areas of opportunity. Maybe some SKUs are over-indexed in the cold space and others that are good sellers but would benefit from being cold to increase velocity further.” To better understand what your store does well and what could use an upgrade, your rep suggests surveying your current layout to take stock of several target sets: cooler, warm beer, craft, FMBs, hard tea, hard seltzer, and non-alcoholic.

“When we target a cooler reset, we work with our retailers to ensure that the schematic will provide them the most efficient and profitable cooler possible,” explains Key Account Manager Scott Clark. “The amount of SKUs, today versus five years ago, has grown significantly; however, retailers’ coolers have remained the same size. Our sales team partners with our retailers to make sure their coolers provide their customers the products they demand. We analyze the sales trends for their account, as well as the trends in their general geographic area to provide a cooler set that is specific to their needs.”

You know your customers and your store’s strong points best, but with these planning tools, your sales rep can help translate and refine your knowledge into a store plan specific to your needs.

 

Planning Process

Demand for beyond beer is growing at a rate that isn’t always reflected in coolers, so the team may suggest that you bring in more beyond beer SKUs and give them priority over slower-moving SKUs. Let’s say that the survey reveals three areas where your store isn’t reaching its full potential: beyond beer SKUs, single-serve placement, and overall flow. First is beyond beer: making space for hard seltzer, but also FMBs, hard teas and kombuchas, RTD cocktails, and NA is important as demand for the category surges.

 

“The demand for seltzers continues to grow, and every supplier continues to create new seltzer SKUs. But they are under spaced in most coolers, whereas other categories that do not trend as well continue to be over spaced,” says Erik Yerkes, Space Management Specialist.

 

Next is single-serve placement. The importance of this package cannot be overstated. Single-serve products are zooming up the charts, with 24 oz. cans ranking as one of the most popular packages nationally. “We recently did a cooler door reset at a shore account to make room for seltzer innovation. We made additional space in the regular doors and freed up additional room for the biggest profit maker – single serve. We added a half-door of singles including Corona Refrecsa Más and Truly seltzer flavors, to name a few,” says Roy Abrams, Key Account Representative. “These single grab-and-go offerings are the easiest way to get customers to sample product.”

If the product is important, then putting it in the right place is also key. Kramer recommends that single-serve products lead off sets, with like segments grouped together and the most profitable SKUs placed at eyelevel. And in the cooler, this category warrants three to four doors, if possible.

Executing Changes

Over a few weeks, you decide what steps you want to take and agree that upgrading before summer arrives is a good idea. So, what’s next?

“A cooler reset is the process where our sales reps, managers, and Space Management team work with our accounts to provide maximum profitability in their cooler space,” says Yerkes. “This includes creating a schematic that organizes the flow, along with adding and pulling SKUs based on that account’s needs.”

While Yerkes notes that the process can be time-consuming (and, if he’s honest, tedious), ultimately, it’s rewarding for both you and your customers. They can easily find what they need and want, including products they may not have noticed before. Meanwhile, you reap the financial benefit – and make your sales rep happy! That’s a win-win-win if we’ve ever seen one… And couldn’t we all use a win these days?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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