Cold beverages are known for strong sales during the summer months. By focusing on key strategies, c-store retailers can drive even more sales during the hottest time of the year.
Here are seven tips for increasing beverage sales this summer.
1. Implement and Market Promotions
Trumpeting beverages and providing incentives for purchase have always been strong ways to fuel sales.
“What has worked for us is social media,” explained Becka Friessen, human resources and marketing director for Corner Store. “Especially now with summer here, I post a product of the week or something of the sort on our social media, and we notice those products sell faster than any other drinks.”
Corner Store operates three stores in the small town of Seminole in west Texas. Its first two locations are traditional convenience stores, and its newest and largest is a full-fledged travel center. Management offers discounts on fountain drinks and certain cold beverages out of the fridges through the company’s loyalty program.
“We offer buying clubs, and that helps push these items off the shelves faster,” Friessen said.
For the fountain drinks, Corner Store also sells cups with its logo on them. “If they bring these cups back into the store they get a discount on their refill,” Friessen added. “We have seen this as a huge success as well.”
2. Go Bigger
Customers started stocking up on products during the early days of the pandemic, often preferring larger pack sizes, and these habits have continued. C-stores can encourage larger purchases by offering four-packs or six-packs of beverages.
“Many years ago, the Coca-Cola Co. figured out that selling a six-pack, in a well-designed carry case, is an effective way to increase sales and just as easy as selling one single unit of the beverage,” said Arlene Spiegel, FCSI, president of Arlene Spiegel & Associates in New York City.
“C-stores typically offer chilled, single-serve bottled or canned beverages because of the refrigeration design,” Spiegel added. “With a little modification, the shelves can accommodate a four- or six-pack instead of a single-serve.”
3. Bundle Products
Bundled promotions are a tried-and-true method of increasing sales of bottled and canned beverages from the cooler as well as dispensed beverages, noted Steven Montgomery, president of b2b Solutions LLC in Lake Forest, Ill.
“The bundle should offer a lower cost than what would occur if purchased separately,” Montgomery said. “Retailers should check with their vendors to determine what support they will provide.”
Signage regarding the bundle should be available where both products are located.
4. Emphasize Sales
The space allocation in the cooler set should be determined by the products’ unit sales, said Montgomery. “This can be an issue when trying to balance the consumers’ preferences and the bottler contracts,” he added.
5. Add a Beer Cave
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, one powerful way to move cold beer is by maintaining a beer cave. Beer caves offer bulk packages of beer that — since they are already cold — are available for immediate consumption.
“C-store space is almost always a zero-sum game,” said Ken Morris, managing partner of Cambridge Retail Advisors in Boston. “Every square foot counts, and it’s not like they can build on an addition just for a beer cave.”
Beer caves aren’t a fit for every store. For example, in locations where a majority of beer sales are from local workers stocking up on their way home from the job, a beer cave is just going to slow everyone down, he advised.
“But beer caves might offer significant return on investment in more affluent areas where they might even lure in some curious beer fans — and maybe even gain some occasional switching behavior away from buying from a grocery store or big chain location,” Morris said.
6. Stress Sanitation
Dispensed beverage sales can be increased simply by maintaining a very clean beverage area. While this has always been true, it has become more important than ever since COVID-19 arrived on the scene.
“In some areas it is a good idea to double-filter the water,” Montgomery said. “In all cases the water filters should be monitored.”
Some retailers have found that offering ice in both cubed and crushed formats has also increased sales.
7. Make Beverage Stations User-Friendly
Making the purchase process effortless always pays dividends. Pricing at the fountain dispenser should be clearly visible.
The queuing process should not require the customer to double back to get a lid or straw. Having a good selection of product that meets local customer preferences is a must.