Stocking the right product mix is central to not only meeting customers’ needs but also growing sales. NATSO has created a Product Mix To-Go Toolkit to help truckstop and travel plaza operators identify the right products for their locations.
Last year, Darren Schulte, vice president of membership for NATSO, and I shared tips and insight from the toolkit during AMBEST’s 30th annual meeting in Salt Lake City.
Schulte highlighted the five principles of a product mix: understand your customer, offer travel plaza must haves and specialty items that set your truckstop apart, avoid offering multiples of the same product, understand product life cycles and use that knowledge in sales, and understand what inventory is on hand and move out inventory that is dead.
“I am a huge proponent of knowing who is stopping at your location. You have to know who your customer is before determining what product mix you need,” Schulte said.
To better understand customers, Schulte suggests operators ask themselves how many owner-operators they have compared to company drivers, if the majority of customers are four-wheel traffic or over-the-road truck drivers or if they see more local customers than travelers. He also recommends customer surveys and examining shopper behavior to understand if a location sees buyers or shoppers.
“Understanding the difference between shoppers and buyers can help operators tailor promotions to boost sales,” Schulte said.
During the session, Schulte also offered tips for finding and stocking carefully selected unique products and specialty categories as well as managing inventory and SKUs. While unproductive inventory is often a cost of doing business, understanding the actual cost of dead inventory and finding effective ways to move it along can free up space for more profitable products.
These topics and more, including ten product mix no-no’s, are covered in more detail within NATSO's Product Mix To-Go Toolkit, which is available to download here.
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