E-retailing has got many forms of retailing wondering how will they compete now and in the future. This big question requires answers especially given the commitment of the largest retailers to build massive infrastructure to deliver goods to consumers’ doors.
Large retailers have well-integrated distribution systems that move goods faster (fresher) while taking unnecessary costs out of the system. In turn, they deliver lower prices. A Walmart executive once said, many years ago, we are not in the retailing business so much as we are in the distribution business with a focus on retailing. Designing business strategy to compete on price and volume (without the critical mass and distribution systems) is futile at best.
So what is the answer to this “make it or break it” big question?
Lowes Foods, a 99 store chain grocery retailer in the US, wanted to reinvent the grocery shopping experience. On the outside of the store, it looks more like a greenhouse. On the inside, it’s a mix of farmer’s market and theme park. One long-time customer defined it as “It’s an experience. It feels like a destination, like we’re going to Disney World,”.
The recipe behind the success where the basket size has grown 7% and the transaction volume has increased 23% since January was to create story-lines throughout the store.
The most visual and unique example of that philosophy is the “Chicken Kitchen,” where each chicken is celebrated with a chicken dance when it comes out of the rotisserie oven. Then there’s “Sausageworks,” which looks like a crazy laboratory complete with a crazy sausage professor, concocting whacky sausage flavours like the “Star Spangler,” a bacon cheddar cheeseburger sausage for the Fourth of July. The “Beer Den” lets customers sample local draft beers. There’s also the community table, hosting events from recipe sharing to speed dating. “It’s really about finding a connection with the guest. To have them come back and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I had so much fun here in your store,'” said store manager Kate Allred.
Many retailers are seeking to create a memorable experience if they want to retain customers. The speed of social networking allows these positive stories to magnify quickly and broadly.
Lowes Foods sought out to create an in-store sensory experience, and a sense of community that can’t be packaged and delivered by mail, or perhaps by drone in the future. They are focusing on the five senses that we can stimulated. When you shop on-line with Amazon, you can only appeal to two.
It begs the question – are you asking what is your customer sensory experience in your convenience store?