Related Content

Browse by Category

Browse by Date

Most Active

Newest Posts

How to Categorize Your Truckstop’s Merchandise and Increase Your Turns

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Marketing & Retail


Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators

How to Categorize Your Truckstop’s Merchandise and Increase Your Turns

Here is some of my basic truckstop merchandise advice: categorize your merchandise carefully and pay attention to how fast it turns.

First, let’s chat categories.

Breaking your merchandise down into categories, at a minimum, is critical to understanding why, when, how and what your merchandising is doing. And if you have the resources, breaking it down even more to sub categories will help you further understand your merchandise. 

Detailed sales tracking helps good retailers learn more about their customers and their customers’ buying habits.

But even without super detailed information, by categorizing departments you begin to understand basic actionable details of your customers’ buying habits.

Related Content: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Truckstop Inventory

If you have a newer point-of-sale system, basket item analysis is incredibly powerful in helping you understand what items are being purchased together by your customers and at what frequency. If everything is rung under the same code, it is very difficult to look back over the sales history and understand which products are driving sales. 

Mind you, you can create hundreds of categories and sub categories if you are really determined. I’ve shared a list below, of some categories and subcategories that can serve as a jumping off point. By no means are these the ones you should or should not be using, just some of the many to make you think about your current category listing, if you have one at all. 

  • Accessories
  • Alcohol
  • Beverages
  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Clothing
  • Coffee
  • Cold Sandwiches
  • Dairy
  • Edible
  • Electronics
  • Energy Drinks
  • Food Service
  • Gifts
  • Groceries
  • Hot Dogs
  • Hot Sandwiches
  • Hot Beverage
  • Non-Edible Grocery
  • Other Tobacco Products
  • Package Beverage
  • Pizza
  • Single Serve
  • Smokeless
  • Snacks/Candy
  • Sodas
  • Tobacco
  • Water

I would recommend you create 10 to 15 main categories, but no more than 15. If you create too many you end up spending all of your time collecting the data and you won’t have any time to analyze the information or make improvements. 

Now, let’s talk turns.

It is very important that you know how often each category turns and then work to increase the number of times that the merchandise turns in that category. I can guarantee that all successful retailers across America are doing this.

Related Content: 16 Ideas On How To Deal With Unproductive Inventory At Your Truckstop

One simple way to make a huge impact in your category turn performance and increase your turns is simply to review the product redundancy you have in your store. If you are carrying several of the same products from different vendors, you are in many cases driving your turn times down. Note, there are always exceptions. 

Take a category and something specific within that category and walk around your location noting all the similar products in the category. Do you have too much of the same?

For example, you may not need 10 different brands and sizes of salty peanuts. You may want a variety of nuts, but not 10 different brand and size/kind of salty peanuts.

Don’t forget to look closely at what you are offering. In some cases, certain companies are reselling the same thing under a different brand. Often you are paying much more for these types of items.

Want more advice on this topic? More sure to also check out The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Truckstop Inventory and 16 Ideas On How To Deal With Unproductive Inventory At Your Truckstop.

/// Read more Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators posts here.



Subscribe to Updates

About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.