Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tip #26: Shipping Chocolate and Candy in Warm Weather

It is officially summer now and many chocolate and candy stores choose not to ship their products in warm weather. Whether it’s because the cost of shipping in heat is prohibitive for their customers or because they don’t want to risk their products melting in transit, it’s completely understandable. However, we also know that many stores continue to ship in warm weather. If you are considering shipping your product, here are a few tips we’ve learned from our members that may help protect the quality of your products:

  • Choose a packing box large enough to surround the product with ice packs and bubble wrap.
  • Consider using styrofoam insulated boxes.
  • Place the ice packs at the bottom of the box, not on top.
  • If you aren’t using non-sweating ice packs, wrap the ice packs in newspaper to absorb the moisture.
  • Wrap the product package in bubble wrap to protect it.

Do you have additional tips and tricks for shipping in warm weather? Please leave a comment to share below.

Our April/May/June 2011 Kettle Talk newsletter magazine had an article on shipping in warm weather. RCI members can click here to view a PDF of the issue (turn to page 13).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tip #25: Candy Kitchen Storage

Are you trying to figure out how to avoid cross-contamination of allergens in your small space? How do you store peanuts, sugar and the rest of your ingredients and separate allergens while trying to save space? At our recent Spring Regional Institute, many of our members learned a valuable tip we’re passing along to you:
Save space by using vertical storage and keep the allergens stored on the bottom so that if there is a spill it doesn't contaminate everything else under it.

Take advantage of the height in your facility and store items vertically. Then, go a step further and be sure your allergens are kept on the bottom. If you spill from a bag of pecans, at least they will fall to the floor rather than all over everything under the bag on their way down. This keeps you from contaminating the sugar and other ingredients that you use on nearly all of your products, those with and without allergens. Of course, this is just one step in putting together a plan for avoiding cross-contamination of allergens, but we thought it was a great one to get you thinking about the process.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tip #24: Find Your Company on Yelp.com

In honor of our 92nd Annual Convention & Industry Expo that is happening this week, we’d like to share a tip that was originally shared with attendees at last year’s Annual Convention in an education session about marketing.

Are you paying attention to Yelp.com? Do you even know what it is? Yelp.com is a user review and local search website.  From their website FAQ’s: “Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great — and not so great — in your world.”  What does this mean for your business? When customers enjoy or don’t enjoy your products and/or services, they are using yelp.com to share it with the world. Not only do they give a rating but they also write detailed reviews, covering both the good and the bad. And guess what? When a potential customer is considering visiting your store, there is a pretty high chance they are visiting the Yelp website first to see what other people are saying about it.

So what do you do about all of this? We have a few points on how to use this review site to your advantage:
  1. Jump In -You don’t need to create a listing for your company on this site because as a local business you are probably already on it. To find out, just visit the homepage and type in your business name.
  2. Read – Once you’ve found your business’s listing, take some time to read the reviews. You’ll find that many of the comments are very candid so don’t be surprised. Be sure to read a variety of reviews, not just all of the good or all of the potential bad reviews.
  3. Embrace and Consider – The purpose of reading the reviews is not to get puffed up or fired up but to find out what your customers enjoy most about their experience with your business and if there are any parts of the experience that could use improvement. If you encounter negative reviews, don’t overlook them. Take a moment to consider if there is any truth to what has been shared. You may find that there is a place for improvement.
  4. Respond – Yelp has created a way for business to publicly comment on a review. Take a moment to thank customers for their feedback and address concerns. Everyone likes to be heard. J  Because your comment will be public, potential customers who are reading reviews will likely be impressed that you’ve taken the time to respond.
  5. Repeat – Don’t make your first visit to Yelp be your last. Be sure to check in on a regular basis (i.e. monthly) so that you are continually aware of your customers’ experiences in your store.

Now what are you waiting for? Go find out what people are saying about your company. We hope you find good things and take any not-so-good things into consideration to make your business even better.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tip #23: Celebrate Candy Holidays

Did you know that this Thursday, June 7 is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day? This is just one example of the many candy-related holidays celebrated across the globe throughout the year. From Chocolate-Covered Raisin Day (March 24) to Toasted Marshmallow Day (August 30) to Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day (November 7), the chocolate and candy industry is not lacking for holidays. This week’s tip is to encourage you to embrace these holidays to drive traffic and sales in your stores. One idea may be to run a special on the particular product being celebrated. For example, for National Taffy Day (May 23), maybe you run a buy a ½ lb of taffy and get ¼ lb free special. Or, you could advertise free taffy samples all day or until a certain time on May 23. However you decide to celebrate, don’t forget to use your social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word! If they don’t know about your celebration, they can’t join you for it.

So, how do you find the numerous candy holidays? By just doing a quick internet search for candy holidays, you can find quite a few different websites and lists. Members of Retail Confectioners International (RCI) receive a graphic wall calendar each year that helps them plan the year and keep track of the variety of candy holidays to be celebrated. Not an RCI member? Learn why membership might be a good fit for you here.

Now, go put together a celebration for this Thursday’s Chocolate Ice Cream Day! Do you have a creative idea for celebrating candy holidays? Please share it here by leaving a comment below.

P.S. Expect the RCI Tip of the Week Blog to be invaded next week as our Annual Convention & Industry Expo begins! Watch for videos, pictures and highlights of the week! Plus, be sure to check out our Facebook page for even more photos.