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Introducing food instore

It’s time to embrace food and the seasons, says Vhari Russell, Founder of The Food Marketing Expert

There are so many occasion-led shopping opportunities available, and it's all about picking the best ones to suit your customer base. You may or may not have stocked food before in your shop; for many it's a product group that hasn't been considered. We aren't saying turn yourself into a deli, but we would suggest you consider stocking a few food products.

Here are a few reasons you might want to consider it:

Offers great seasonal activity
Excellent visual impact
Entices in customers who may not have come in before
Great opportunities for pop-up displays
Offer other occasion-led shopping opportunities
Many products offer great shelf life Adds the wow factor to a window display
A great story for your newsletter
Makes you different from your competitors

We would like to suggest that based on stocking a small range of food, you consider the following two events:

1. British Food Fortnight is a great opportunity to be patriotic and proud. The fortnight is designed to give all the wonderful products that we provide a big shout out. The fortnight, which takes place from 21st September - 6th October, 2013, is very well supported and is promoted via the website and through the press.

Previous British Food Fortnights have proved that the event has a serious impact on sales. Shops taking part have increased sales by up to 34 per cent as a direct result of the event, and 84 per cent of new lines stocked for the promotion have been retained since.

"Whether you run a shop, rural pub, sophisticated restaurant, tourism attraction or staff canteen, taking part in British Food Fortnight increases sales. You will attract new customers, increase spending from existing customers and establish a point of difference between your establishment and those that stock and serve only mainstream products," says Alexia Robinson, Founder of British Food Fortnight. Why not look at stocking local jams, biscuits sweets, and chocolates? It also gives you a great opportunity to try products out before Christmas.

The website offers a lot of free support material and the facility to upload your event/activity. Visit www.lovebritishfood.co.uk to find out more.

These are just a few of the great British products you could stock: Biscuiteers' iced biscuits, Lottie Shaw's traditional Yorkshire parkin and Joe & Seph's delicious popcorn.

2. Don't be spooked out by Halloween. It's not just big business in the US; it's increasingly becoming a much-needed boost for the UK's retail, leisure and tourism sectors too.

Planet Retail forecasts that Halloween sales will rise 10 per cent in 2013 to £392 million, as consumers look to lighten the autumn gloom. Halloween is a perfect opportunity to stock something a bit different, like horror pops or spooky biscuits - they both offer easy counter-top sales.

If you're concerned that you need to buy for lots of individual suppliers, worry no more. There are a number of distributors who have thousands of products and are only too keen to help with low minimum orders.

We spoke to Paul Hargreeves of Cotswold Fayre for his tips: "Gift food is one of the fastest growing retail sectors in the UK at present. There have never been more people cooking quality food at home and using quality ingredients. The economic downturn over the last few years has actually resulted in consumers spending more not less at the higher end of the speciality food sector.

"A gift of food can never be the wrong size or wrong colour. Everyone needs and appreciates food, and there is no danger of the recipient having had it last year! If they have it doesn't matter, they can eat it again. "If you want your gift shop to be different, stock gift food - there are thousands of lines to choose from and nothing adds interest to a retail outfit better than something different."

The Food Marketing Expert is a group of experts who are passionate about developing, creating and growing businesses. They can help you grow and develop your business, increase your sales, driving your brand forward with minimal cost. To find out more about The Food Marketing Expert, T: +44 (0)7769 683 020 or visit www.thefoodmarketingexpert.co.uk

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