Georgina Wild of HIM urges you not to lose sight of the crown jewels of retailing

During the recession we saw more and more shoppers choosing to shop locally, which is great news for the sector. However, this raises expectations in the minds of consumers, and they won't tolerate out of stocks particularly in staple products such as milk and bread.

Too often we hear that "milk is just milk" and "bread is just bread", but these are the most commonly purchased items for those customers on a top-up mission.

HIM's CTP research shows that sales penetrations of both categories are higher where shoppers can see the product as they walk through the door, and it is now more common practice to make milk and bread visible from the store entrance.

We are also finding many retailers are dual-siting milk, which can capture sales from shoppers on different missions, such as top-up, main shop and immediate consumption.

Milk now has a shelf life of up to seven days, but stock rotation is important. The biggest consumer turn-off is to see milk with five days' life stocked next to product due to go out of date tomorrow.

In the c-store industry, milk availability particularly suffers later in the day it is equally important to have a full fixture at 5pm as it is at 7am.

Retailers should make sure they are communicating their bread and milk availability to their customers. Leaflets are the best form of local advertising, but a bread and milk availability guarantee can also work well. 

Tips for retailers

- Keep the fixture clean customers will judge the freshness of your food by the cleanliness of the milk fixture 

- Availability focus on all times of the day, even after 5pm 

- If product is not immediately visible then you need clear signage to the fixture 

- Encourage cross-communication between bread and milk fixtures

- Freshness is a huge selling point. Freshly baked bread will improve the overall perception of the store.