POS-itive thinking

When Aubrey Allen of Leamington Spa had a shop refit in April this year, getting the point-of-sale features right was a priority. Simple, informative POS, such as posters and recipe leaflets, are effective tools for boosting sales, but in addition Aubrey Allen decided to opt for a new printed window display, a dry-ageing beef cabinet, and a flat-screen TV showing different products and services.

Head of marketing Lucianne Allen says all these measures have boosted sales and led to some record-breaking Saturdays. “In the front window we have had a visual created of one of our beef farmers, so you’ve got a wonderful image of the farmer with his cattle. People immediately see we have a commitment to provenance,” she says.

“Then, when they come in, one of the first things they see is the dry-ageing fridge behind the meat counter, where you can see the ribs of beef ageing in the cabinet. We have found at the point of sale that has been really powerful, the customers love to see the beef ageing and they can point to the piece they want.
“We also had fitted a flat-screen TV, with videos viewing on a loop, so it is a way of promoting different parts of our business. As well as the butchery, we do ready-made meals, so we can showcase those, and we do some catered events from the shop, such as buffets.” A fridge full of ready-to-cook meals in foil tubs are stationed in a fridge near where customers queue, so as they watch the POS TV, many decide to add one to their basket, says Allen. “It has really had a positive impact on sales.”

In addition, says Allen, on the counter are branded flyers giving more detail about where the meat has come from.

The shop also gave out branded bags last Christmas, when shoppers came in to place their Christmas orders. The bags bore the slogan ‘Aubrey Allen, your butcher for life, not just for Christmas’. “It was a bit of fun and it’s nice to see Aubrey Allen bags around Leamington Spa,” she adds.

The investment at Aubrey Allen was significant, but improving your POS needn’t involve huge cost. Changing small things, such as your labels, can give your cabinets a fresh look.

Pentic, the price labels manufacturer, says clean lines and simple products are currently selling well. “People are going for a back-to-basics look at the moment,” says Chloe Callow, who is responsible for purchasing and marketing. “In the current climate, we are finding that there has been a desire to return to a more traditional and simple feel in both products and display. Our traditional range is totally in keeping with the current trend for keeping things local.”

Branded bags can also be an effective POS tool. Aubrey Allen uses one type relatively new to the market – boss bags – supplied by William Jones Packaging. Boss bags are printed, sealable, waterproof paper bags. Unlike heat-sealed bags, boss bags have a sticky seal, so are far quicker to close up and hand to the customer. According to Alwyn Evans, sales director of William Jones Packaging, boss bags are an effective POS tool because they are so different from everything else on the market.

“It tends to be the progressive, modern butchers who have had a refit and are looking for something completely different in packaging,” he says. “They are not for everyone because of the cost element — 10p each for small bags, 20p each for larger ones — but we have found that most of the butchers who have spent a bit of money on a refit or new serve-overs pay particular attention to putting a stamp on their products. Butchers have said it looks slick and it makes the product look nice. If you were to buy some lingerie, you would get it in a nice bag and this is no different.”

There is however, a lot of free-of-charge POS that can effectively increase interest and sales. Eblex and Bpex both provide materials to independent butchers, including posters, recipe books and cabinet cards through a number of promotions throughout the year.

According to Mike Whittemore, Eblex retail project manager, the kits tend to reach full subscription very quickly. “The kits are always very popular,” he says. “Asking butchers to sign up for all the kits at once makes things easier — it means they don’t need to remember to keep applying for kits during the year, because they automatically receive them. While the kits for this year are fully subscribed, we would always like to hear from butchers who would be interested in registering for next year.

According to Whittemore, butchers report it is very effective. “Feedback on the material we produced last year was extremely positive, with butchers rating the kits as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ – and all scored over 90%. In addition, they also helped to increase penetration of three new innovative cuts, which have featured in the summer promotional kits for two years in a row: lamb chunkies, centre cut steaks and flat iron steaks.”

Indeed, penetration of lamb chunkies increased by 14% (from 42 to 56%), centre cut steaks by 6% (27 to 33%) and flat iron steaks by 17% (27 to 44%). In fact, the cuts proved so popular that many butchers are now stocking them on a permanent basis, Whittemore says. “This is a fantastic result and clearly demonstrates that without a doubt, promotional material really does help to drive sales.”

Eblex currently offers four seasonal kits to Quality Standard scheme members and a further two kits, which are available to non-scheme member butchers. These are also supplemented by ad-hoc kits that are introduced to coincide with campaigns and marketing activity.

Eblex produces 1,000 copies of each kit. They are made available on a first-come-first-served basis, although butchers must apply at the start of the year to receive all the kits for the seasons. The latest pack to be produced is due to be released at the end of July and will focus on the health aspects of red meat and seek to quash some of the myths surrounding meat. It will explain that red meat is a positive part of a healthy diet. The kit will contain two posters highlighting the variety of nutrients provided by beef and lamb, as well as a consumer-facing leaflet that outlines the positive role red meat has to play in maintaining good health for life.

“Consumers are constantly bombarded by contradictory messages about red meat and we want to set the record straight,” says Whittemore. “The leaflet and posters will provide them genuine facts about the nutritional benefits of eating beef and lamb.” Butchers who are not members of the Eblex Quality Standard scheme can access this material by calling 0845 491 8787 or via the website, www.eblextrade.co.uk
Similarly, Bpex provides free POS to butchers, including posters, recipe booklets, stickers and merchandise, such as oven gloves, ties, fleeces, mugs and even boxer shorts decorated with cartoon sausages. Bpex produced around 1,500 kits for each promotion, based on the number of butchers who sign up for the year.
Many of the kits are planned to coincide with PR events such as British Sausage Week and Bacon Connoisseurs’ Week, with the aim of helping butchers increase customer awareness and increase sales. A typical kit will include a selection of wall posters and window vinyls with inspirational food photography, and copies of the latest recipe books.

The latest summer kit from Bpex was brightly contained and featured al fresco styled dishes. British Sausage Week 2011 (31 October to 6 November) will be all about ‘Legendary Bangers’ and the point-of-sale material will be very much in keeping with this, says Bpex.

Claire Holland, product manager for Bpex, who develops the kits, says the recipe books are the most popular item: “We often receive calls from retailers requesting additional stocks of the recipe books. Their feedback tells us that the recipe books are regarded as the most useful item, particularly as a means to educate their customers about the quality of ingredients and how they can be used in a variety of dishes. The feedback is vital, because it is a valuable means of establishing which items within the kits are the most appealing and work best for the retailer and their customers.”

There are also private companies that offer free point-of-sale material to butchers. Lamb supplier Ovation New Zealand is one. It is offering POS material to butchers that stock its products and fulfil certain accreditation criteria to become an ‘Ovation master butcher’.

James McWilliam, business development manager, says flyers, aprons, cooler bags and a POS pack including posters and recipe leaflets are all available to butchers through Ovation’s head office. “From this point the butcher will receive a visit from an Ovation Business Development Manager, who will go through an Ovation ‘Master Butcher’ accreditation form and the process is complete,” he says. “Ovation recognises the unique nature of the butchery sector and has committed resource to provide expert high street-based business development managers with extensive agricultural and processing experience to support the butchers in their understanding of the additional lengths Ovation goes to in ensuring tenderness and the highest quality.”

According to McWilliam, good POS tempts consumers to try new products and increases impulse purchases. “It also stimulates the consumers’ imagination as to what can be achieved with their purchase,” he says. “It gives consumers the confidence to expand their culinary repertoire in the comfort of their own backyard on a barbecue or in their kitchen. For example, a very simple recipe leaflet with three different lamb meals using a range of different cuts, some of which the consumer has never used, can lead the consumer to take the product away and give it a crack.”

Good POS can also provide a talking point between butcher and consumer, he says. “Point-of-sale material provides the butcher a great opportunity to advise and engage with the consumer in discussions beyond just the purchase of product. Using point of sale gives the butcher the ability to ensure their loyal customers are informed, supported and feel a little bit special, ultimately providing a premium eating experience and a personalised shopping experience.”

However, there are pitfalls. McWilliam says it is important for butchers to make sure the POS material they have on display is specific, relevant and targeted to what is being offered in the counter below. “The point-of-sale material must also be simple and consumer-friendly. There is no point in providing a supporting package if the consumer cannot benefit and gain a positive experience from receiving either recipe leaflets, aprons or cooler bags.” If butchers get this right, however, POS can be very powerful. “Relating the product to its finished recipe dish, with pictures of dining experiences to come, changes the leaflets from being informative to inspirational,” he says.

For butchers looking to change or upgrade their POS, there is plenty on offer. Chloe Callow of Pentic says the company is in the process of launching new POS labels for meat. “We are in the process of printing a new brochure,” she says. “We’ve got some great new products launching. We have got some brand new ticket shapes, which is new for us because it means having brand new cutters made, we haven’t done it for years, including some animal-shaped tickets, which is probably more relevant for children to see where your meat comes from, and with the whole rustic back-to-basics thing, we have got a range of blackboard tickets which are selling really well, which we have expanded upon.”

And Eblex retail project manager Mike Whittemore says: “Bright and impactful material has a real role to play in driving sales at any given time. Consumers are always looking for inspiration and a simple, yet eye-catching poster, for example, can help influence or even add to their purchases.”

The message is clear: for independent butchers, whatever your budget, you can improve your POS.

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