Fierce competition is nothing new in the grocery business. But macro-economic forces like lingering inflation and a super-tight labor market are putting extra pressure on grocers to improve the performance of their stores.
Learn below how one particular kind of store fixture – pusher trays – can deliver significant benefits by both lowering operating costs and increasing customer basket size.
Moving Products Forward: Pusher Tray Fundamentals
Pusher trays are typically used in the refrigerated and frozen food sections of retail grocery and mass merchandiser stores. They hang either on a grid or bar at the back of a cooler case. Their primary function is to keep perishable grocery products front-faced and conditioned 24/7.
Retailers have been gaining advantages with pusher trays for years. But Bob Johnson, Sr. Vice President, Commercial, at Retail Space Solutions, says there’s an urgency to their value, especially because of labor challenges.
“A lot of grocers just don’t have the people to go around and front-face and condition products. So, pusher trays are really helping them maximize their operational budgets,” says Johnson.
Let’s take a closer look at advantages like that and also explore how customer basket size can grow with the help of pusher trays.
How Pusher Trays Can Lower Operating Costs
Pusher trays generate a ripple effect of savings and other efficiencies. Consider these examples.
Save Significantly on Labor
Since a well-functioning pusher tray automatically moves items toward the front, your reliance on employees to front-face products is greatly reduced. But just how significant is that really?
“I’ve had grocery store employees tell me that their front-facing tasks went from an hour or more down to just a few minutes because of pusher trays,” Johnson says. “That is a huge benefit, especially when you consider the unprecedented labor shortage that retailers are facing today.”
In fact, Johnson says he’s seeing more and more regional and national chains install pusher trays wherever possible because of the operational savings they generate.
Improve Restocking Efficiency (And SKU Alignment)
With front-facing tasks reduced, your associates can jump right to restocking. The good news here is that pusher trays help associates restock faster and more accurately.
“The trays can be conveniently pulled out for quick and orderly re-stocking, which enables a critical task to be done much more efficiently,” says Johnson.
In addition, pusher trays make it nearly impossible for UPC misalignment, which is a risk with conventional stocking on open shelves, where bags or boxes can be inadvertently tipped over or get pushed into another SKU row.
Reduce Various Forms of Grocery Shrinkage
That more convenient stocking process described above involves associates easily placing newer products behind currently stocked products. Customers are now much more likely to select the older dated products first. And that helps reduce shrinkage from expiration.
Pusher trays can also hold what some grocers call a “case-plus” amount, which means the trays are large enough to hold more than a typical case.
Johnson explains that this makes it less likely for extra items to “get lost in the backroom abyss,” where they become more susceptible to misplacement, spoilage, and employee theft. (Another bonus: Pusher trays make it easier for customers to return a product to the right spot.)
Free Up More Time for Associates to Improve Department
Thanks to the time-saving benefits of pusher trays, associates can devote that extra time to other areas of a given department.
Johnson says, “Every retailer knows there’s a long list of tasks that could be done to keep a department cleaner, better organized, and fully stocked. With the help of pusher trays, your associates are now more likely to get to that list.”
How Pusher Trays Help Expand Customer Basket Size
In the process of lowering operating costs, pusher trays also encourage more purchases by providing benefits like the following.
Help Shoppers Find What They Want Faster
Shoppers today typically want to be in and out of a store as fast as possible.“So, if they can’t find something,” says Johnson, “they might just blow off that purchase. Now you’ve lost a sale.”
To counter scenarios like that, pusher trays help make items much easier for a shopper to find. On top of that, pusher trays make the items themselves easier to access. That means there’s no need for deep reaches or awkward grabbing.
Maximize Space, Enhance Presentation
Display space is at a premium. That’s why pusher trays come in various tray depths and can also be adjusted to precise widths. These features enable you to maximize the square footage of your coolers. And that means more product facings.
Also, with products reliably front-faced and conditioned thanks to pusher trays, they become more inviting to customers.
“Shoppers perceive a full and well-organized section as being fresher, and they see that the retailer cares more about their merchandising,” says Johnson.
Enable the Brands to Be the “Heroes”
A lot of time and attention goes into how brands design their labels and packaging. Pusher trays ensure that the branding of products is front and center.
“Pusher trays, especially those with a clear lens in front,” says Johnson, “let the brands be the heroes. The fixtures themselves are in the background quietly doing their job,” says Johnson.
Differentiate your store with better customer service
We’ve noted the various associate-related efficiencies that pusher trays can generate. But having associates complete tasks more efficiently can actually create benefits for customers.
When an associate feels less rushed, they can take the time to, for example, walk the customer to a product they couldn’t find.
“Customers not only make a purchase because of that kind of attention. They remember it,” says Johnson. “And in today’s competitive market, that can be a real differentiator.”
Grow Stronger with a Big Picture Approach
You’ve just learned how pusher trays can generate both operational savings and bigger basket sizes. But effective fixtures like pusher trays are just one important aspect of the overall store experience.
To maximize the potential of any fixture, you ideally want to integrate it with an approach that, for example, also addresses:
- Better merchandising for all of your products, from the impulse buys at the check-out counter to your bulk foods section.
- More efficient backroom processes and equipment that help get stock out front more efficiently AND create better-organized systems for the click and collect option.
- Improved systems to acquire the store fixtures you depend on for building new stores and remodeling existing ones.
Marmon Retail Solutions provides integrated products and services that allow your retail improvements to be carried out more strategically, more cost-effectively, and ultimately more successfully.
Learn more about how these retail solutions can work for you.