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Trader Joe’s and the art of being a great merchant

Trader Joe’s and the art of being a great merchant

It’s no secret that pumpkin mania is occurring on the shelves of supermarkets today. From Pumpkin Spiced Lattes at Starbucks to Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts, the product is popping up all over, just in time for the Halloween and fall season.

Trader Joe’s has jumped on the bandwagon in a major way that powerfully demonstrates the art of being a great merchant. Walking into our local Trader Joe’s with the mission to buy cookies and cream cookie butter with my daughter (another story for another day), we were overwhelmed by the sight and smell of what they dubbed Pumpkin Palooza. In total, we were informed that our store was carrying 68 private label products that were seasonal and pumpkin inspired, which was almost double what they had carried the year before.

68 products! Across all departments. With the plan of carrying these products only on a very limited basis. The breadth of products was remarkable, and pumpkin was represented in every department of the store, from the expected (Pumpkin Bread Mix, Pumpkin Spice Chai, Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli, Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale) to the decidedly unexpected (Pumpkin Dog Biscuits, Pumpkin Macarons, Pumpkin Ice Cream, Pumpkin Croissants, Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels). At each turn, moving from produce to dairy to frozen to bakery to center store, we were hit with one great product after another.

But, it wasn’t simply about the abundance of product, which was a remarkable achievement in product development and timing all on its own. The endcaps all featured pumpkin products, in-store signing highlighted the products at the shelf, the demo station was sampling some of the pumpkin items (pumpkin corn bread with bacon), and the associates were eagerly talking up the individual products in the aisles and at the checkout.

The fearless flyer (Trader Joe’s monthly promotional vehicle) is jammed full of detailed descriptions of the products, how they’re made, how long they’ve been carried and, of course, the value they are offering.

Trader Joe’s is a great merchant. Customers have rewarded them with revenues, and productivity per square foot that is well beyond traditional retailers. The way they execute new and newsworthy merchandise on a seasonal basis provides a great glimpse into how they’ve earned their success. Product development, integrated marketing and educated associates all come together to make it happen. This is the essence of having a merchant mentality.

Does your store have a similar story?

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