Grocery stores are a staple in many people's lives. Almost everyone has a grocery store they count on when they need to stock up their pantry or quickly grab a snack. However, many grocers will tell you that it's not easy to become the go-to store for a neighborhood.
Customers are evolving in terms of what they want to see in a grocery store. According to research study on grocery stores and their customers, conducted by Jefferies and AlixPartners, as baby boomers and millennials both age, the demographic of grocery shoppers will change dramatically. While millennials' parents and grandparents were traditionally brand loyal and consistent in their shopping habits, this younger generation has been known to have values beyond these.
Millennials like to see organic and fresh options and will shop at multiple stores in order to gather their essentials. They like convenience and low prices, but are willing to go out of their way and pay more for valued attributes, such as variety and organic options.
"Grocery stores have to adapt to continue enticing customers."
Because of the changing demographic of the spending population, grocery stores have recognized they need to adapt to continue enticing customers. Wal-Mart's U.S. CEO Greg Foran stated he realized he needed to upgrade many of its stores to appeal to customers.
"If we look at what customers say about our business, about half of them (stores) are where we would want them to be, and the other half need improvement," he said, according to Fortune.
Specifically, he named improvements in customer service and store appeal as the big things he wanted to change. Foran wants people to recognize Wal-Mart as clean, fast and friendly.
These attributes are important to many shoppers. A store that always appears neat and clean is one of the top priorities for about 85 percent of shoppers of all ages, a study by advertising agency Barkley found, according to AdAgeStat.
New stores the company plans to open will have wider aisles and will cater to fresher foods. Existing stores will have to adapt accordingly to appeal to new shoppers.
Walmart isn't the only store adjusting to the wants and needs of consumers. The Times Media Company, a Northwest Indiana news company, reported grocery store chain Jewel-Osco renovated all four locations in the area last year. The remodels aimed to increase the selection of fresh options to cater to demands of younger buyers.
"We are expanding our fresh departments that will continue to offer customers the widest selection, highest quality and best value in town," Mike Withers, president of the store chain, explained. "Our remodels are going to feature a variety of new fresh items in addition to our ever-popular French bread, fried chicken and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables we already offer. We are continuing to get better every day and make our stores the favorite local supermarket for our customers."
When remodeling a grocery store, it's important to be in tune with the wants of the customers. Renovations that are in line with the target demographic can have a great impact on the store's success, Retail Leader reported.
"A remodel usually brings in a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in sales," David J. Livingston, principal of Wisconsin-based DJL Consultants and a supermarket consultant, explained. "But I've seen stores remodel and get no increase in sales. Then perhaps the issue wasn't with the facility, but rather with the operations or the concept. So remodels don't always work."
Problems with construction
However, when remodeling a store to meet the customers' needs and wants, it's also important to continue doing this during construction. Shutting down a store means lost business, and potentially lost customers. However, staying open during construction could be a challenge.
One example can be found in a San Francisco neighborhoods. According to the Richmond District Blog, the popular supermarket La Playa Safeway was undergoing construction to expand its store, add an underground loading dock and build residential units nearby on adjacent property owned by the store. Due to the complexity of the remodel, the store was faced with a difficult choice.
The first option would be to combine the entrance with a temporary loading dock. This would cause safety and security concerns. In this case, construction would last about 15 months. That is more than a year of potential security problems and disrupted shopping experiences for consumers.
The second option would be to close the store during construction, reducing the security and safety risk and speeding up construction. With this model, the renovations could be completed in less than half the time. However, during that time, customers would be forced to shop elsewhere. The company then risks losing frequent shoppers to competing stores.
Other typical concerns for grocers come up when contemplating a renovation, such as storage and spacing. If aisles are being redesigned, the inventory on those shelves needs to be relocated. If equipment, such as coolers or checkout stations are being redone, this equipment needs a place to live in the meantime. This is a challenge for many stores because space is limited.
How Mobile Mini can help
Both of these problems can be solved with Mobile Mini. Portable storage containers offer grocers the ability to keep necessary inventory or equipment stowed away until the store is back in order. Items within will be protected from both inclement weather and anyone hoping to get their hands on expensive equipment or products.
Or, a mobile office could help move important operations out of harm's way during construction. Some stores have even operated business out of shipping containers, according to the Wall Street Journal. If a store needs to close its doors during renovations, they can set up a smaller shop on the same property and offer some essentials customers regularly turn to the store for.
Remodeling a store is full of tough decisions. But some of those choices can be made easier with the help of portable storage solutions.