By Jonathan Tan, VP Energy Services
The AMS Group, Hillphoenix
Our relationship with food is changing. Cooking shows, celebrity chefs, open kitchen designs. Instagram photos. Grocers bringing alternatives into the mainstream. The resurgence of the farmers market. The list goes on and on.
For a mix of health, social, economic, and sustainability reasons, people are engaging more deeply with food. They talk – and think – about what they eat, how they prepare it, and where they buy it. And food shopping is no longer a list-driven routine for replenishing the pantry. For more and more people, it’s an experience in which they want to feel good about what they buy, are open to exploring foods that are new to them, and increasingly seek out freshness.
What kind of experience are customers getting at your store? To answer this question it might help to see things from a shopper’s perspective.
A Real Shopper’s Tale of Two Stores
“They’re both in the same chain. One is about 3 minutes from my home and the other is more than 20. Even though the location is more convenient, I only go to the closer one to pick up things I need in a pinch. The other store is where I’ll really shop. I bring a list of staples I’m low on, but for the most part I don’t really know what I’m getting until I’m there and see what looks good.
Why not shop closer to home? The other store is nicer, more inviting. The produce, which I’m big on, seems better. The lighting is definitely better, less harsh or glaring. When I want to try something new, I read the label to see what’s in it, and I always check dates. Nicer lighting makes a difference.
I also like that there’s doors in the dairy section. For one, it’s not so cold. And it’s easier to see things. I think maybe the doors break everything up into manageable sections. When there’s just this long, uninterrupted expanse, it’s like my eyes don’t know where to stop and it’s hard to focus on any one thing. I’ll find what I’m looking for, but I won’t spend much time looking at anything else.
Plus, without doors I never quite trust the carton of milk at the front of the row. I always reach in for the one behind it. I do that for probably everything, especially meat. To me it makes sense. How can the food that’s exposed be safe? I suppose it is, but why chance it. At the very least, it can’t be as fresh.”
New Food for Thought on Energy-Efficient Solutions
This shopper’s story reinforces what merchandisers already know: It’s not just about the products – it’s how customers perceive them and your store. And when it comes to energy-efficiency solutions, we know it’s not just about reducing energy costs. They also have to enhance the customer experience.
In upcoming posts we’ll be looking at how today’s solutions, with advances in LED technology and better design in case-door retrofits, meet both of these goals for food retailers.