By now many convenience stores will have started to receive some of their higher volume cigarettes and tobacco products in the new plain packaging. These have arrived while much of the previous stock remains on the shelf, causing confusion.
Retailers have until February 1, 2020 to sell through their slower moving coloured products and the following checklist will assist you in identifying product lineups and new requirements as you reconfigured your tobacco section to ensure speed of service, staff awareness and ease of reordering going forward.
This transition will not be easy as you will have an array of sales people from all the various tobacco companies coaching or influencing you to favour their concepts. Some easy ideas for all retailers to follow can be:
1) train staff as new products arrive in the areas of placement for ease of service.
2) sell through all coloured packaging first and rotate the plain in behind.
3) explain to your customers the change while assuring them that the colours are as fresh as the plain (ask for patience)
4) decide on the best set up for your tobacco section (ie. alphabetical or dedicated flaps for each major product) and minimize the influences to continually change the shelf by tobacco reps.
5) track your sales/inventory closely. This is a good time to re-evaluate which products are most popular as many consumers may move to the cheaper products on the shelf when there is no difference in packaging.
6) ensure you have reviewed your security needs and procedures for the handling of plain packaging from receiving an order, inventory counts and replenishment through proper rotation.
7) work with your local tobacco representatives on product returns and product issues and swap out slower formats as you define the shelves.
8) be patient as this will be somewhat of an operational frustration of the business and spend time with employees to insure they have an understanding of this change
9) be mindful of underground sellers and don’t be influenced to purchase coloured packaging from anyone or compromise your tobacco business with anyone.