The holidays are a busy time for cheesemongers as customers flock to their shops in search of the perfect cheese to add to their festive holiday boards. Offering a sample can make or break a sale, so here are some tried-and-true sampling techniques and tips from cheesemongers on our staff.
Doing both active and passive sampling will increase your chances of making the sale.
Active sampling is when you offer to cut a sample during a direct interaction with a customer. Here are some tips for active sampling:
1. Never sample off the tip of a knife for safety reasons.
2. Always face (gently scrape) the cheese before cutting a sample to ensure that the customer is getting an accurate representation of the flavor, rather than the taste of plastic wrap. Similarly, always cut a piece for sale from the same side you sampled from.
3. Include the rind of the cheese when necessary so that your customer can experience the nuances of the cheese's flavor as the cheesemaker and affixer intended. This is a great opportunity to talk to your customer about which rinds are edible and encourage them to try a rind they may have been hesitant about.
4. Make cuts that respect the integrity of the cheese and that won't impact the overall appearance of your working piece.
5. If you are cutting a sample for one customer, offer samples to other customers who are waiting so that they feel included, as they might want a piece of what you are already cutting. This streamlines your work and keeps your customers in good spirits.
6. Create a "Push/Pin List" - focus on suggesting cheeses you want to push and sell more of, and also cheeses that you have a small amount left of and want to finish by the end of the day (so that you can put the "pin" away from the sign). This is a great way to promote certain cheeses and increase sales.
Passive sampling is leaving composed samples on top of the counter for customers to try when they walk by or are waiting to order. This is a great opportunity for impulse buys that will raise your basket average. Here are some tips for passive sampling:
1. Leave small cut and wrapped pieces of the sample cheese on top of the counter near the samples to make it easy for customers to to grab and go if they like the cheese without having to stand in line.
2. Include a cross-merchandised display of suggested pairings like jam, honey, nuts, or crackers. This not only enhances the sample but can also increase sales of these complementary products.
Use these sampling tips to help increase your sales this holiday season and make your customers' cheese shopping a fun and interactive experience!