Keep point-of-purchase products focused

Barry's front waitingThe front counter is often a carryout customer’s only physical impression of the restaurant. The products you choose to display can be money-makers –– or bomb completely.

While shopping in a Southwestern city I visited recently, I popped into a pizzeria that I noticed from a promo in the window offered “two-for-one cookies.” It was mid-day and I was ready for a snack — who could pass that up?

As I made my way back to a counter that was offset to the left of the dining area with benches lining a side wall, I noticed this was a very traditional pizzeria — red and white checkered table clothes and Italian scenery paintings on the wall. Macadamia nut, Chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies were prominently displayed next to the POS system.

But my attention was quickly diverted to a rack of CDs that resided on the other side of the counter. Instead of Italian ballads, there were covers of bleeding devil horns, skulls with fanged teeth and some more explicit scenes I’d rather not describe. Perhaps the owner’s son or grandson was in a band and he wanted to help with promotion. The CDs just didn’t fit. If the pizzeria were going for an edgy vibe then the CDs made for a perfect complement. I didn’t get that vibe.

It’s more than acceptable to just say no when it comes to the up-selling real estate of the front counter. If you are going to sell point-of-purchase products, be strategic about it. There’s an entire industry dedicated to merchandising products. The items should meet the following conditions to qualify:

  • Reflect your brand and fit your pizzeria concept and identity
  • Adhere to your pizzeria’s quality standards
  • Are in demand or desirable to your guests
  • Will reap a return on the investment (This is not always monetarily. It may also be promotional.)

What are good add-on items that customers will gravitate to during the few minutes that they wait for carryout orders?

Cookies and other desserts make for great last-minute add-ons. If cashiers are having trouble selling the goodies, cut up half-inch by half-inch squares of the treat and invite waiting patrons to try a sample. A good offering will whet their appetite for more.

Other house-made products — sauces, salad dressings, seasoning pouches, etc. — are always good point-of-purchase items.

When customers are passionate about your pizza, they want to sport your branded merchandise. When I travel and ask, “who has the best pizza in town?” Huge smiles come across faces as they show off their favorite pizzeria’s logoed keychain, pins and hats — even socks. Point-of-purchase merchandise can help expand your brand awareness. Think walking advertising.

If your pizzeria has a strong beer program, branded growlers sell well and promote returns for refills.

Counter space is limited. Reserve the space for items that are simply ‘your pizzeria.’