Armand Lobato, The Produce Aisle
Armand Lobato, The Produce Aisle

I have talked over the years about apples, as in the fruit. Today, I want to touch on another Apple product.

Before I delve into this, though, let’s journey down memory lane and those thrilling days of yesteryear. It used to be that our produce staff liked communicating what worked well.

This is no different today, but methods have changed.

For example, we occasionally arranged for one of the better managers in the company to build a “suggested” ad display for a photo. Because of time restraints, we had to have this ad display built two weeks before the ad broke. Usually the produce manager was grumpy about being called on to perform such a task. After all, he was required to sell a future featured item — at regular price.

So the day this was arranged, the affected produce manager built the display. I stopped by to help out and snap a photo. This was typically followed by the produce manager disassembling much of the display, for fear of excess shrink. Not to mention, he would have to re-build the display in a couple weeks when the ad actually broke.

No wonder these guys were grumpy.

Once the photo was shot, I had to fight traffic to drop the film off at the only next-day photo lab. After I picked up the photos the following day, it was a pain to hustle back to our company print shop, staple one print to each of the weekly marketing bulletins and stuff it into the mail.

Tech savvy helps get displays to toe lineAll this effort so that the produce managers could see what kind of display model we hoped they would emulate, with assigned point-of-purchase materials, size and general creativity.

Of course, anything could happen. Sometimes, when asked about the attached ad photo, a produce manager would shrug his shoulders. “Photo? I didn’t see any photo.”

Fast forward to today. The multipurpose iPad is a perfect tool for today’s produce merchandisers.

With high resolution and ease of use, a supervisor can enter the same situation and take ad merchandise photos with ease.

The supervisor can immediately pick the best shot, edit the photo on the iPad and crop for best viewing. Then, in a second, he can transmit this image to as many produce managers as he wishes (or to the entire chain) with a note saying something like, “Hey just visited Store No. 24 — Produce manager Russ T. Blade built this great display. This is what we’re looking for when you build your ad displays next week!”

Of course, iPad photoscans be used for any such instant-messaging desire, including recognition of a job well done. When a supervisor sends a nice display out for everyone to see — well, talk about instant gratification.

This Apple should be in every merchandiser’s briefcase.

Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 30 years of experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions.

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