Archive for the 'Grocery info' Category

Managing the Carbonated Beverage Section

Here in Winnipeg the term Pop as referring to carbonated beverages never really caught on. You can tell when someone is from out of the city by whether they use the term or not. Please insert pop in place of drinks in your head if that is what you’re used to

Working the drinks

If you can, wear gloves as they are always very dirty and it is hard on the hands.

The two litre drinks are the most popular, and it amazes me that most people in the stores, even driver/reps doing them in other chains, don’t do it smart.

1)      Corner to corner outside then inside is the first way to do two litres. Grabbing from the opposite sides and ends means that the case won’t tip as easily and the drinks in the centre will hold down the case while you pull the outside ones out. Once you get to the inside four you can give a quick tap with which ever bottle comes out first to get the second one out.

2)      Corner to corner inside then outside is the Pepsi way to do two litres. Pepsi shells are engineered in a way that the weight of the four center bottles pulls in the outside edge of the case to hold the outside four bottles tight. If you pull out the four center bottles, it releases the four outside bottles and it’s an easy pull.

If you use this technique, I promise that you will not only get the drinks out faster, but it will seem faster and easier than you would have believed possible.


Take the pallet of drinks on the floor and park next to the shelf. Do not walk across the aisle with two bottles at a time. If you have an orphan case that is somewhere away from the pallet, it is very easy to use the shelf ticket moulding to rest the full case on and unload from there. Again, do not walk back and forth across the aisle with two bottles at a time. Life is too short for that.


Always work to the bottom of the pallet from one end so you can get something else piled on that pallet to make room. Don’t work off one side of the pallet in such a way that it will tip when you lift it up with the hydraulic jack. Our new plastic pallets are notorious in that they flex when they are piled over the edge and it is easy for two litres cases to slide right off. Keep this in mind when re-piling your pallets.


When pallets of drinks come in, they are usually stacked in a way that they are least likely to fall over and also in a way that you are least likely to need them. The odd flavours such as Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper will be on top and the Pepsi or Coke will be on the bottom. They will be interlocked so that you can’t simply take off one corner of odd flavours and get to the Pepsi.  No, you have to take off whole layers or you will be only getting about 6 or 7 off .

The sad solution is to re-pile the pallet. Usually there is more Pepsi than everything else but there is not enough room on the shelf to unload to the bottom of the pallet. You want to pile your Pepsi reasonably high at one end of the pallet and then start piling odd flavours at the other end in the reverse order you might need them.

If you can, pile in stacks of flavours, if not pile them in shelf fulls. If four go on the shelf, alternate flavours until you’re done. The next time you take that pallet out, you should be able to work it on the shelf and reach all the flavours.

The better you know your drink sales, the better your piling will be. If the shelf holds four Diet Dr. Pepper and 4 Mountain Dew, but you typically only need to put out 2   Diet Dr. Pepper and 3 Mountain Dew by the time the Pepsi sells down, use that as your alternating pile amount, 2 Diet Dr. Pepper, 3 Mountain Dew, 2 Diet Dr. Pepper, 3 Mountain Dew, etc 


There is a lot more thought involved when you’re trying to be more productive. If you put a little thought into how you repile a pallet of drinks, it won’t have to be re-piled again. It makes sense to make the next load easier to do than the first one was. Try to make the job easier by thinking ahead.


The difficult customer

I was just reminded of “Customer From Hell.” CFH is someone who finds things that are slightly out of place and demands that you make the situation right by giving her exactly what he believed was correct. For instance, looking at a table full of different products, picking the one she wants, and looking for the lowest price anywhere near the product and that is what he wants. How do you deal with CFH?

  1. Apologize. Its not hard. Its nothing personal, (I mean its “the company” apologizing, not you personally) and it stops defensiveness. Be careful what you apologize for. You apologize for the “confusion”
  2. Blame the “Policy”: “I’d like to give you everything in the store for free, but our policy is very strict about not allowing that. Darn that policy!” (Paraphrase please)
  3. Try to find something that will make things somewhat clearer, even though it may make nothing clearer at all. Move something, or tell them you will try to make things clearer when you have time.
  4. Thank you for pointing out the problem. Make them feel that they are contributing something and that their opinion is welcome. (This can be the difficult part)
  5. Mean it. You may not mean it at the time you are saying it, but a complaint is a complaint, and some people that haven’ t complained about the same thing might just never come back, because we’re a bunch of rip off artists. We need all the customers.
  6. Compliment. A CFH still spends a lot of money. You can’t always please them but any complement, or even a smile with yet another apology will soothe some of the hard feelings, because they aren’t getting what they want.
  7. If you objectively find what they are referring to confusing enough. Give it to them (if you have the authority) You don’t want to be unfair. You’d rather be taken advantage of, than have a customer believe they are being taken advantage of (or ripped off.)
  8. Make them your friend. Try to keep their interests in mind. If you see something you know they like on sale, mention it to them, or mention something that is a good buy, or perhaps something that is related that you have in the clearance area. You can’t lose, if you make it hard to get mad at you. Good luck.

Note: I’ve mixed up the genders because a CFH can be either.

This side and that side

How do you tell someone where something is. Often you’ll go along with them and show them. I usually don’t unless they are asking for something very specific, like a particular spice. If they are looking for “juice” or “shake and bake” which are more than four feet wide, I’ll just send them to the aisle number and tell them which side its on. I don’t like to use left hand side or east side. I always get left and right confused myself and if they go down another aisle for something and then go down the aisle from the other direction, left and right get reversed anyway. This side means it’s on the side we’re on and that side means… THAT side. I think it is the clearest and simplest.

If your in a store where the aisles run in 2 directions, this might not work very well, but if the customer can’t find it, he’ll think, “Where was that guy? Oh yeah, He was this way and he said it was on that side.” It’s pretty clear.

I try to head to the aisle afterwards to see how they are doing. It is faster that way than going at their pace.

Have some fun.

“Hi, did you find your oats?”

Answer1: “Yes I did.”

Reply: “Oh darn! I didn’t hide it well enough.”

Answer 2 “No I didn’t”

Reply: “Here it is.”

” Oh! Right in front of me!”

“We designed it to blend in really well, So you’ll find stuff you don’t need.”

Ordering Ice Cream when there is not enough room.

At our store, our ice cream section is about six feet short of a standard ice cream section. With that size restriction there is no possible way to put a row of every product in the ice cream freezer. Ours is a coffin freezer (one that you look down in to, as opposed to a stand up freezer with shelving.) We have two mouldings on each side of the freezer to hold the shelf labels, because there is not enough room for even the labels. When it works out, we have one facing of all the products on top. To achieve this there are a few guidelines to follow:

  • If there are any, don’t order more. Really even just one is enough until the next order.
    • This does not include high volume items like pails and economy 2l ice cream. You would have a defined number of facings for these.
  • Use the over flow from one product stack to “dummy up” the low stock items.
    • A case of twelve can be used to create one stack of 5 (typically) and the other 7 would be used to “dummy up” products that you have 1, 2 or 3 of.
    • If you have two facings of something on top, see if there isn’t something else that needs a facing. When you have things stacked up, you might spot something that was used to “dummy up” that is not at the top anymore.
    • There is some “house cleaning” involved with this. gather up some of the old “dummy up” product and make a single stack
  • Order small cases first. Cases of 6 before cases of 12. It means more variety and less to bury when the order arrives.
    • This implies that some cases of 12 will go a long time before they are ordered. There is nothing else you can do. Once the freezer is full another case of 12 will just sit in the back.
    • Cases of 4 (No Name Cones) can be ordered all the time. If you order the flavour you have the least of, you can use the overflow to dummy up the other flavour.
  • If it’s on sale, and you have to order too much
    • If you have too much when you receive the order, it is important to think about what you are going to take to the back. It’s not too hard to see when you are going to run out of room, especially if you have prepared the section when you ordered it by dummying up and burying, you’ll have a spot for each sleeve plus a little extra to dummy up the low stock. Once you decide that something has to go to the back, the selection should be obvious:
      • everything you have out there already
      • one of everything you have two of
      • half cases of 12s (just take 6 out of two cases and make a single case of back room stock with two flavours in it. Before the next order is written you might put out this case. If it isn’t selling well, you might leave it in the back and order stuff that does. If there is lots of room in back, why not. If the freezer is jammed up with stock, lowering you stock level might be more important than improving your variety.
  • Getting your order out.
    • Work from the Novelty end and fill it. Usually the House Brand (No Name) novelties are first so fill them and take as much space as you need. Keep an eye out for things like ice cream sandwiches, which are slightly shorter than the other novelties which can allow you to put your novelties in without turning them sideways.
    • Product orientation (i.e. sideways) though usually important, is secondary to getting a good use of space in this scenario. Do what you must to get a good fit.
    • When you are finished and find you have some space left, split the full stacks and use the stuff under the “dummied up” products to make the section more level and presentable.

How do those UPC labels work?

Simply- the width of those lines and the spaces between them tell the scanner what all the numbers are at the bottom. There is usually a single digit followed by 2 groups of 5 digits followed by another single digit at the end. The first digit is almost always zero, on shelf food items and always 2 on weighed in store items from the Meat and Deli departments. If the first number is not a zero, then it must be punched in with the rest of the UPC in order for it to work. The first group of 5 numbers is the manufacturers code. Each manufacturer applies for a code when they start, so everything from Kraft starts with 56000, and everything No Name, Presidents Choice or Sunspun starts with 60383. That’s handy to know because our eggs also start with 60383 so when they don’t scan, you can have half the code punched in by the time you have it turned around to read it. The last 5 digits are the product number as selected by the manufacturer.
On those meat and deli packages, the number that follows the 2 is almost always an 8 and then there is a 4 digit number that is the exact number that you would punch in on the scale to call up the correct label. That’s handy to know too.
The last 4 digits on the label are the price. There may also be another digit before the price, but if it is not a zero, you can replace it with a zero and it will still work. At least it does at my store. This is handy for cashiers too. If your stuck with a label that is mangled, you can punch in the whole upc if you can just make out the 4 digit code and the price 28XXXX0$$$$ is how to punch it in. Xs are the code and $s are the price. Try to keep that in mind. It will save you a lot of time and running around.