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Stop Watch Archives: Tips for Truckstop Merchandising

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail


Stop Watch Archives is a regular column that features highlights from a Stop Watch article from our archives. Stop WatchNATSO's bimonthly magazine, provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations and provides context on trends and news affecting the industry. Delivery of Stop Watch is a member only benefit. Join NATSO today to receive a copy of Stop Watch every other month. 


Providing the right product, in the right place at the right time can help truckstop and travel plaza operators better meet their customers’ needs and drive sales. Truckstop and travel plaza operators and are getting innovative to ensure they have right mix of products, messaging and displays that will move product out of their stores.

In the November/December 2011 issue of Stop Watch, successful truckstop operators shared their merchandising and marketing tips.

Tips for taking control of contracts:

  • Move away from limiting contracts with key beverage suppliers.
  • Group like products together. For example, don’t have a dedicated Pepsi and Coke door.
  • Don’t put in a whole line of products just because the supplier wants you to.

Ideas for cross promotions:

  • Do simple things like putting bread next to peanut butter and jelly so drivers don’t have to go looking for it.
  • Tie in new music CDs with a $5 gas card
  • Offer a bag of microwave popcorn for free if they buy a movie, get. 

Tips for excellence in foodservice:

  • When designing your store layout, put food service front and center.
  • Paint your floors to move people to the foodservice area.
  • Utilize softer lighting and more comfortable décor that looks a little bit more like a fast casual restaurant.
  • Create a dedicated section just for my fresh foods. Make sure it is all in one place and easy to get to.
  • Add a four-foot section of ready-to-eat breakfast items, such as breakfast cereals and bars.
  • Consider utilizing a coffee hostess in the mornings to keep the process moving.

Tips for providing products for your location’s specific customers and their shopping behaviors:

  • Provide products and solutions geared toward professional drivers, road warriors and leisure travelers.
  • Take a close look at the number and variety of products you carry.
  • Don’t have too many SKUs just to have a lot of options—what happens is your customers can’t find what they want and you can’t keep track of your inventory and because of that you’re costs go up. You can’t be all things to all people. Instead, you need to stick with your high-volume items.

Tips for grouping like products together:

  • Consumers like to compare products and grouping items together makes it easier for shoppers to find the right product for them, which in turn makes it easier for them to buy.
  • Limit the number of off-location coolers they place within the store, which only ambushes sales from other products.
  • Grouping products together also builds power around the category. 

/// Read the original full article, Guide Customers on the Road to Purchase.

Want more retailing tips? Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president, membership and a retail expert, writes a biweekly retail column on NATSO’s blog. Read his digestible retail tips every other Thursday in Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators blog series.

Photo Credit: Ira Wexler/NATSO

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About the Author

Amy Toner

Amy Toner

Toner markets NATSO products, services and meetings. She is the content editor of NATSO's core websites, Stop Watch magazine and Highway Business Matters biweekly articles. In addition, she provides creative services across all departments. Toner joined NATSO in 2006. Prior to joining the association, she served as director of membership services at an association for ambulatory surgery centers. Toner lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son.

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