Starting a farm shop or delicatessen is a great way to cater for customers looking for fresh, high-quality food produce. However, with both freshness and quality required and discerning customers being the norm several retail challenges need to be overcome for your shop to become successful:
Stock Management & EPOS Integrations
Stock management is absolutely the critical consideration for any retailers dealing with perishables. Rotten produce damages brands, damages bottom lines and can make customers potentially ill. Maintaining a strong overview of the shelf life of every item, when it arrives and when it expires is essential when dealing with fresh produce. Centralised stock management with integrated EPOS is vital for business owners to keep an overview of stock levels, stock expiry and wastage. A premier EPOS system, like our very own Opsuite, offers business owners complete oversight of their produce and ordering.
Handheld devices are also a consideration – so that floor staff can reduce (or mark as waste) produce on the fly and print suitable stickers.
Scale Integrations & User Experience
Requiring every piece of produce to be weighed individually at the till can cause severe bottlenecks in service, particularly in smaller stores. By allowing users to select and weigh produce throughout the store at strategically placed scales, allowing them to print their own stickers and then bring their items to the till can allow for a more enjoyable user experience. By giving customers the ability to weight and price the produce before the till means they know exactly how much they are spending. This can make your deli or farm shop seem much more authentic and user-friendly. Our own OpSuite allows for this exact setup.
Store Layout & Design
Colour is the first thing the eye sees. Great delis and farm shops allow for colour breaks in their store design – vast swathes of orange carrots, red tomatoes and green lettuce enable customers to see at a glance where they need to go – making the experience much more intuitive. Cluttered and cramped layouts can make your store seem cheap and your produce seem stale. Floor space is essential – mainly if your operation is going to have high footfall. Customers bumping into one another or fighting over produce can lead to unnecessary spillage and bruising of fresh fruit – harming your margins.
Refrigeration, Odours & Ripening
We’ve created a handy table below that shows the general temperature ranges that produce needs to be maintained at for the greatest shelf life. Many fruits and veg should be refrigerated at just above 0°C to give them a shelf life of around 7 days. Other fruits such as pineapples and oranges should be kept in the 7°C to 10°C range. Some should just be kept in an air-conditioned room. While most fruit and veg can have their flavours and textures damaged by being frozen, some produce can tolerate crushed ice.
As well as different temperature requirements the production of ethylene, a natural gas, by some fruits and vegetables is also a consideration. Some fruits and veg are ethylene sensitive, meaning that if they are kept near ethylene producing produce they can ripen and spoil at an accelerated rate. Keeping these two types of produce apart is essential for extended shelf life.
Some produce can also absorb bad odours from other produce – keeping them apart is also critical for shelf life, reducing complaints and reducing spoilage.
Suppliers, Sustainability & Produce Marketing
Chances are you’re starting a deli or farm shop based on a core strength – you are a specialist with meats or cheeses or your farm has its own produce. The question then arises: what else are you going to sell and why?
This is where understanding your key target demographics matters. Which complementary products are your target market looking for and why? Here is a quick overview in some of the key retail trends around fresh produce:
Shop local: This is probably the most common marketing and product strategy for delis and farm shops. By selling complementary products from other local suppliers, you can benefit from the wider shop local trends and benefit from changing attitudes towards larger corporations. Local produce is almost by definition rarer and can be sold at a premium.
Veganism: There has been a massive uptake in veganism in the past few years in the UK. Discerning vegans are obviously in the market for exceptional fruits and vegetables so having a vegan-themed farm shop or deli may tie into this growing demographic.
Organic: The widespread use of pesticides and fertilizers has led to a reduction in global biodiversity. Many people are increasing the amount of organic food (food grown to organic standards) as a way of supporting more traditional farming methods.
Here is an infographic we made about Food Trends in 2018:
Shrinkage & Wastage
Fresh produce results in wastage. Minimizing waste is essential for maximizing profit. Maintaining the “cold chain” (where cold items stay cold and warm items stay warm) as mentioned above is key. Having your staff handling the produce properly (never throwing or dropping it) is also important. Keeping heavy items, such as watermelons, as low down as possible to prevent unnecessary drops and crushing is also essential. Most of this advice is common sense but systemizing common sense to prevent staff oversight is crucial when running a retail business.
Handling fresh produce is one of the greatest challenges a retailer can face as it affects their entire supply chain, store design and store management policies. There are key considerations that need to be made to make sure your deli or farm shop doesn’t end in disaster. A premier EPOS system, like our own OpSuite, can allow shop owners to manage many aspects of business risk from one centralised location.