Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tip #91: Hire a Gift Designer

At each of our events, we take attendees on behind-the-scenes visit of area candy stores and suppliers. It’s one of the most anticipated parts of the event week as it’s a great time for attendees to find ideas to take back to their own stores.

During our Canadian Chocolate Tour in September 2012 and recent Annual Convention & Industry Expo in June we visited confectionery retail stores that had designated gift designers. Attendees were consistently “wowed” by the beautiful displays and merchandising in these stores so this week’s tip is for you to hire a gift designer for your own retail candy store.

Gift designers are focused solely on the presentation of the products and displays in your store. Their job is to take your delicious candy products and turn them into beautiful gifts that your customers can’t resist buying. It’s about more than just wrapping paper – it is creating a theme, designing a shopping experience for your customers.  

If hiring someone solely for the purpose of designing gifts isn’t something you can do, then consider making it a seasonal position or incorporating it into an existing position. You’ll be surprised at the difference having an individual focused on designing your items will make when it comes to the presentation of your products.

One other tip: once you hire someone, be sure to give him or her freedom to be creative and come up with new and original ideas. Share your vision and brand strategy and then step out of the way and be amazed at what is created and the exquisiteness it adds to your displays.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tip #90: Increase Your Popcorn Shelf Life by Air Popping

A couple weeks ago we posted a tip on a fall favorite – caramel apples. Another favorite treat during the holiday season, and a growing snack trend this year, is popcorn. This week’s tip is quick and will help increase the shelf life for your popcorn.

To increase shelf life, we suggest air popping your popcorn. Because popping with oil increases the chance for rancidity, if you air pop your popcorn, the shelf life of your product is increased.  It’s that simple but it works!

While we’re sure your popcorn is so good it’ll be flying off the shelves, we hope this quick tip will help you be able to pop your popcorn ahead of time so you can meet the demand for this great treat!

P.S. We’re having a great week in Buffalo, New York for our Fall Regional. Be sure to check out event photos on the RCI Facebook page!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tip #89: Save Time Finding Emails and Contacts with Xobni

As the holidays get closer, we know that means you are getting busier and busier. Therefore this week’s tip will help you find emails and contacts in your email quickly so you can make the most of your time.

Xobni is a free tool that works with Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Android and iPhone to help users search and discover all of your contacts, including emails and files exchanged. You can instantly view each contact, complete with photo, job title, company details and email history.  That’s right; you can get forget about tirelessly searching by keyword or date for a specific email or attachment. With Xobni, it’s easier and quicker than ever.

Watch this quick video for a glimpse into how Xobni works for Outlook or view these videos to see it work within Gmail, Android and iPhone. Download and set-up time is minimal and worth it for the time you will save with this great tool!

Note, Xobni was recently acquired by Yahoo! which means company and service changes are taking place over the next year. At this time, there are still free versions and paid versions available to meet your needs.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tip #88: Increase Caramel Apple Value with Packaging

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, it’s almost fall which means it’s time for caramel apple madness for most candy makers. This classic fall treat has been a favorite since its creation in the 1950s. This week’s tip is to take time to evaluate how you package your caramel apples.

As with any confection, packaging plays a large part in how your customers view your products’ value. Therefore, it’s safe to assume it’s the same with your caramel apples. Whether you are making the “typical” caramel dipped apple or coating your apples in various toppings such as nuts and chocolate drizzles, selecting the right packaging will create even more value for your customers.

One of the best options we’ve seen used for packaging caramel apples is a small box that protects the apple, stands easily for display and has a plastic cut-out for customers to view the apple.  Oftentimes candy makers will place the apple in a plastic bag and tie a large seasonal bow at the top; however, while an apple covered in nuts is probably safe in this type of packaging, the caramel of other apples will become stuck to the plastic. While the flavor is not compromised, the presentation definitely is which is reflected in the value perceived by your customers. Looking for more ideas? Do a quick internet search for images under ‘caramel apple packaging’ to get your creative juices flowing.

So, take a few moments to evaluate your caramel apple packaging this fall. Remember, the value your customers perceive is directly related to the price they are willing to pay for your products.

P.S. Are you headed to the Philly Candy Show this weekend? Be sure to stop by booth #518 and meet the RCI staff!