When most people think about the best ways to increase in-store bakery sales, their minds immediately go to sampling events, promotional activities, new display techniques or a new kind of frosting on a cupcake. However, the key fundamental is to make sure that the products you buy to resell or make in-store meet the quality expectations of a consumer base that’s increasingly seeking food with integrity and transparency.
Start with quality ingredients
A recent Center for Food Integrity study noted that 33% of shoppers don’t trust the food system, marking a 14% drop since 2017. It’s up to food manufacturers and grocers to rebuild that declining trust, and their sales depend on it, says Harry Blazer, who founded Harry’s Farmers Market before selling the firm to Whole Foods and launching Blazer Consulting.
“One of the fundamental issues for the food industry is trust,” Blazer says. “For me, it starts with ingredients. You must have ingredients with integrity, in particular in the in-store bakery.” Bakeries that want to increase sales should begin to forge a relationship of trust with consumers, and they can start by making sure that the ingredients in their supply chains and the processes employed in preparation of products can hold up to scrutiny. “Very few grocery stores actually have scratch bakeries, but it can be done,” Blazer said. “For example, we had a fully scratch bakery with four-ingredient bread: Just water, flour, yeast and salt. I know it can happen and I also know there’s huge demand for it. But you also need to be concerned as to whether or not the flour you are using has been sprayed with chemicals or drying agents just prior or shortly after harvest.”
Know where the demand lies
Another important reason for in-store bakeries to focus on their clean-label offerings is to attract a broader audience. Because many baked goods use wheat flour as their base, some shoppers avoid them due to gluten and other sensitivities. “One reason bakery sales are down is because wheat allergies are increasingly affecting people,” Blazer said. “That’s why there’s a movement back toward ancient grains, less hybridized wheat varieties and more scrutiny about farming practices.”
Grocers that think it isn’t important to have “clean-label” products should give consumers the opportunity to choose for themselves by offering an array of options. “We increased a client’s organic business three-fold after instituting more organic products,” Blazer said. “Supermarkets have an opportunity as their buying agents to become real trusted partners in helping people be healthy, and increasingly that is what is expected by consumers,” Blazer said.
Once ingredients are set, then start marketing
After you’ve transitioned your bakery to offering the foods that customers demand the most, then you can institute a marketing program that includes sampling events, promotional pricing and displays. Make sure the bakery area is clean and neat, and that all products are fresh at all times. This may require a good deal of discipline on the grocer’s part, but it helps show the customer that the bakery is a destination for fresh, healthy and safe food.
Some grocers report that they have displays in place that aren’t utilized properly by bakery staff members, which can then cause them to break or fall over. Having poorly-maintained displays can deter shoppers from visiting your bakery, so only order display materials that can be easily assembled and maintained in the store, said Dustin Smith, CEO of BoldtSmith Packaging Consultants.
In addition, he says, keep store associates in mind when developing display ideas, because they will be on the front lines assembling and maintaining the displays.