Fudgesicles are a great treat--they are very low-calorie compared to many snacks sold at convenience stores and have an extremely low fat content. Besides, they are ice cream and they are chocolate and they seemingly sell well. So it's frustrating that the local Quick Chek, a prevalent chain in Northern New Jersey, can't seem to order them with regularity, but stocks other freezer items that don't. I've seen this behavior before and it’s not good business.

At a prior place of employment, Drake's Coffee Cakes regularly sold out from the vending machines. That would suggest that the distributor should always stock them. Wrong. In fact, when I asked a gentleman who serviced the machines why they slots with coffee cakes was filled with another snack, he mumbled something about having to rotate the offerings.

Why replace merchandise with something that sells with something that doesn't? If there's a need for rotation, rotate a lesser-selling item and see what might prove more popular.

In Quick Check, there are bins full of the new Nestlé’s Cookies and Cream, and of a chocolate coated vanilla ice cream bar that clearly haven't sold. The manager said she ordered Fudgesicles, but the wrong ones were delivered. That was three weeks ago and meanwhile, I drive across town to another Quick Check to get my treats. That store doesn’t seem to have a problem.

Oh yes. There's also a note on the office door at the local store that I can read when it's left open. It says the store's goal is to increase food sales by $250 a month and also to remain in stock at all times. I'm not sure packaged ice cream is a food or if that means deli food. But it doesn't matter.

I could easily eat one Fudgecicle per day and they cost ninety-nine cents each. I believe this is a nontaxable item so let’s say it's a one-dollar food item and I can bring in $7 per week on my own, probably more. And when the last batch vanished quickly it was clearly that the store could probably sell $15 to $20 of the chocolate goodies per week. That goes a long way toward that $250 goal. Looking at the shelves, I think I can see many examples of popular items not being stocked adequately. Want to bet this manager doesn't last?

So why do merchants do this? I think I've seen the same behavior at convention centers where the tea dispensers are kept completely full, full of the things nobody drinks. And the only reason I can imagine is that when they are full, there's no work to be done.

It's easier not to have to order; not to have to keep your eye on goods if there are plenty of items that are available in ample supply, not to have to deal with delivery people who show up at busy times, minus that little fact that they aren't bringing in the revenue that could be arriving.

Last modified on Saturday, 29 June 2013
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Bob Scott

Bob Scott has been informing and entertaining the mid-market financial software community with his email newsletters for 10 years. And he has been covering this market through print publications for 18 years, first as technology editor of Accounting Today and then as the Editor of Accounting Technology from 1997 through 2009. He has covered the traditional tax and accounting profession during the same time and continues to address that as executive editor of the Progressive Accountant.

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