The key to a successful supermarket (column)

Store owners should make their stores about more than just grocery

Grocery stores that can win in today’s evolving market will be able to get shoppers to visit more often, stay longer and spend more at each visit. But how? The reality is that, increasingly, grocery stores have to be more than just grocery stores. It’s a concept that applies to retail in general. IKEA, for example, has always been a retailer that minimizes pain points. It offers a ballroom for kids, allowing parents to shop without distraction. Plus, a restaurant – conveniently located at the half way point – allowing hungry shoppers to rest and grab a bite before heading back out on their shopping journey. This isn’t entirely new; for years some retailers have adopted a “more than just grocery” mentality, integrating community rooms and culinary centers into their retail designs. Yet we’re beginning to see even more innovation, which suggests the grocery store is being redefined.

Snack on this

In May, Ferrero partnered with Longo’s to bring shoppers the Nutella Crêperie pop-up kitchen – a unique way to give something back to Longo’s shoppers. Though it was on a small scale and travelled to different locations every week, I personally chose to shop at Longo’s to get a Nutella Crêpe, instead of going to my usual store. My own behavioural shift suggests people might reconsider where they shop if another retailer offers something of value — in this case, something experiential. We’re also seeing Loblaws banners like Fortinos and Provigo Le Marché create permanent food immersion stations and eat-in areas designed to attract shoppers with more of an inviting restaurant flair to them.

Entertain them

The best place to meet someone is in a grocery store. We’ve all heard that one before – and Metro believes it. At the end of May, it held a Singles Night at its Toronto Liberty Village location, creating buzz for the store, which was showcasing its new design overhaul. Metro picked the perfect location for its theme night, based on neighbourhood demographics.

How about a drink?

Whole Foods in the U.S. has really changed the game by offering both wine and beer bars in its stores, so customers can choose to enjoy a drink while they shop. People are loving this approach, as demonstrated by testimonials on Yelp: “Coffee Bar, Wine and Cheese Bar, Smokehouse, Beer Bar, Asian Restaurant, Salad Bar, Free Wi-Fi, Gelato Stand… and a Grocery Store! ‘Nuf Said.” Mandy, Chicago. “I absolutely love this place. It’s gotten to the point where I look forward to Friday shopping nights whereas I used to loathe going grocery shopping. For starters you can shop while drinking one of many fine draft local beers from their bar…” Marko, Seattle. In Canada, Longo’s has recently added beer and wine to the menu of its Corks Beer & Wine Bar locations, tapping into the insight that people like to complement their meal with the perfect glass of wine or pint of beer. In so doing, it has transformed Corks into a dinner destination, inviting people in for more than just shopping. The transformation of grocery stores, from being just a place to buy food, into a place where we eat, drink, experience and even date, is exciting. I will bet the new model will also positively impact the bottom line. Sheri Pearson is VP, retail insights and strategy at Hunter Straker This article first appeared on

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