- The Fresh Market will begin adding free dark chocolate samples to shoppers’ curbside pickup orders, the company announced this week.
- The 0.3-ounce samples of Himalayan pink sea salt dark chocolate will go into order bags every Monday, beginning Aug. 30.
- The promotion comes as retailers are adding sampling to their e-commerce programs and reintroducing the practice to their retail floors.
As retailers look for new ways to enhance their popular pickup services, more and more are turning to sampling programs that add an element of surprise to shoppers’ orders.
Walmart stores have been placing items like hydration power, snacks and candy into pickup bags for months. In January, Albertsons launched a sampling program that sends snacks and treats out with shoppers’ online orders. The practice elevates what can be a humdrum experience, and also offers another way for grocers to earn revenue from packaged goods suppliers.
For The Fresh Market, chocolate samples with curbside orders at the beginning of the week coincides with its “Chocolate Lovers Monday” promotion, which offers discounts on certain chocolate products. And it comes on the heels of a significant curbside service expansion and promotional push for the specialty grocer.
The Fresh Market announced late last year that it had extended pickup service to all of its stores. It also touted a high level of service as a differentiator in the competitive channel, noting wait times of less than five minutes and orders getting double-checked by managers. Employees slip hand written thank you notes into orders, an executive noted in January.
The Fresh Market noted in its sampling announcement that pickup orders for the month of August have increased 28% while first-time orders are up 47%, with guests rating the service an average of 4.7 out of 5 — indicating the elevated service levels are paying off.
Online sampling is still in its early stages with retailers, and the practice has room to innovate depending on how popular it proves to be. Retailers and CPGs may, for instance, hone the practice so they’re matching samples to the markets where they’ll resonate the most.