Small business owners that sell tobacco would do well to participate in a Tobacco Scan Data program. This applies to any establishment that sells tobacco products, whether you own a high-end tobacco shop or operate a grocery, mini-mart, bodega or other store that offers cigarettes, vapes and other products.
There are so many people that rely on tobacco that it is one of the best-selling items a shop can stock, said Elie Y. Katz, President and CEO of National Retail Solutions (NRS). According to the Federal Trade Commission, cigarettes sales alone rose to 203.7 billion in 2020. Smokeless tobacco, according to the same report, reached 126.9 million in pounds the same year.
“The numbers reverse a years-long downward trend. By signing up for a Tobacco Scan Data program, businesses are eligible for buydowns, discounts and loyalty programs to pass along to their customers,” Katz said. “Especially with inflation, now is the time to take advantage of the valuable benefits offered by Tobacco Scan Data programs and increase revenue.”
What is a Tobacco Scan Data Program?
Tobacco Scan Data is a significant incentive mechanism offered by big tobacco companies such as Altria and RJ Reynolds. “Shop owners share transaction level data on all tobacco products with these companies and in return, based upon sales, can receive major discounts when buying from the manufacturer,” Katz said. “Merchants pass on these savings to shoppers, creating a loyal customer base through regular patrons, walk-ins and word of mouth. In addition, when tobacco consumers see great prices, they will likely buy more products than they would otherwise, because they want to stock up given the favorable prices.”
Tobacco sales competition is fierce. For those merchants able to sell products at lower prices by participating in a tobacco scan data program, people will leave good reviews and inform friends and family about offers on cigarettes, cigars, pipes and other related items, at great prices.
How Does Tobacco Scan Data Work?
Every month, a store owner can submit their tobacco sales reporting to manufacturers via reporting typically generated via their point-of-sale system. “A shop owner can sign up for an automated scan data program if offered by their point of sale system provider. The POS system takes the heavy lifting off your shoulders with preparing reports,” Katz said. “With an efficient POS-based Tobacco Scan Data program, the company organizes and submits your data automatically to the manufacturers, so that you can get the same buydowns and discounts the big chains receive without lifting a finger, and at a very approachable cost.”
The scan data also helps tobacco companies be informed of which of their brands sell best at stores. This way they can gauge trends and properly restock the fastest moving inventory, especially during the holidays, when tobacco sales seem to accelerate.
“Savings are passed on from the merchant to the consumer, a win-win situation in which customers save money and tobacco store owners increase sales and profits while building a loyal customer base,” Katz said. “Tobacco scan data programs can also include buydowns and discounts based upon promotion. Buydowns may be more approachable if the business owner agrees to give the products prominent placement on shelves behind the register that will attract the most customer views.”
Using a POS license ID scanner, the merchant has the additional benefit of employees being better able to track false IDs and moving lines quicker.
“The scanner does the work of age verification, removing guesswork and time needed to manually examine a driver’s license or other ID card,” Katz said. “Selling tobacco to minors can be accompanied by huge fines, and can even result in court appearances and the possibility of a store losing its tobacco-selling license for a period of time.”
Tobacco scan data programs are an easy way for merchants to increase sales and profits while gaining return buyers and loyal customers far into the future. The process is straightforward: achieve a specified tobacco sales figure and receive buydowns and discounts to pass on to customers. Use a reliable POS provider and there is no paperwork or complex process.
“When you are researching a new POS system, be sure to ask if the company’s system can integrate with a tobacco scan data program,” Katz said. “The small monthly fee is well worth the long-term benefits for an independent retailer.”