What will the stores of the future look like?
A supermarket with a world of products like those at a farmers’ market? Why not? Modern full-range stores must do more than just offer quality and fresh products in utilitarian facilities; they should awaken customers’ emotions. REWE’s generation 2020 stores show how to do that.
If you want to know what the next generation of supermarkets will look like, you have to ask customers. How do they want to shop in future? Or to put it another way: How important is food shopping to them in the first place? Are they primarily interested in quickly buying what are often the same products they use every day? Or do they view shopping from a more emotional point of view – as a journey through a cornucopia of products that offers surprises and inspiration time and time again? REWE asked its customers and received a clear response: They like well-structured stores where they can quickly find what they came to buy. But, please, not too utilitarian and sterile! Customers also want to be addressed emotionally: They want to shop in a pleasant atmosphere. And, above all, they want stores with a focus on fresh foods!
Appealing to all the senses. How? A generation 2020 supermarket can pull off this trick. As soon as customers enter the store, they think they are at a farmers’ market: a place brimming with top-quality fresh fruit and vegetables. They see regional products or those from exotic countries lavishly displayed on multi-levelled shelving, bathed in warm light produced by decorative or basket lamps. As a service to customers, a shelf talker provides some basic information about the product. Apples are a good example: Are Elstar apples more acidic and tart or are they fruity and sweet? And how do Braeburn and Jonagold apples taste? A display board above the shelves provides the answers.
Shoppers will find something else that they may not see too often at a farmers’ market: freshly packed bite-sized fruit. Pineapples, berries, melons and other fruit – ready to be eaten right away as a snack or in a smoothie. How does a salad sound? Iceberg or endive? Tomatoes, bell peppers, corn? Or tuna fish, with a few chunks of feta cheese sprinkled on top? Perhaps with croutons? Customers at the long self-service salad bar are spoilt for choice. What about convenience? The range of pre-cooked and ready-to-cook products is large everywhere in the store, because these days, meals often have to be prepared quickly. Nonetheless, such foods must be healthful and fresh.
The next stop on the journey for the senses: chilled freshness. This is a central theme throughout the store, along the walls to the left and right, serving as the customer’s constant companion down all the broad aisles. Brands and store brands, single servings and XXL portions, from around the corner or from a far corner of the world – a profusion of chilled fresh products, well sorted and brightly illuminated in high, modern display shelves. Thanks to the large glass surfaces, customers have a very good overview of the entire fresh assortment.
They also have no problem finding their way through the store: Big signs on the walls and information displays on the shelves lead customers to the products they are looking for – to be found at the service counters, for instance, where highly trained employees provide them with premium cheese, meat specialities and fresh fish. Everything here will remind them of a traditional artisan’s shop. The back wall is covered with white tile, and the effect is airy, hygienic and modern. Monitors draw attention to specials, and seed trays are filled with the store’s own brand products. The service counter seems to float in the air, despite its size and weight – a clever trick of the store builder who placed the counter in the front on thin pillars for an open, less massive effect.
The journey continues through other product worlds – past a well-sorted, clearly displayed wine department or through health and beauty products, bathed in brilliant light on open shelves. At checkout, customers have a choice to make – between the traditional checkout process with conveyor belt and cashier and a self-scanning option with payment at a POS terminal. Customers who are in a hurry and need just a few things will be happy to choose the self-service option as it is usually faster.
And if you now need a quick bite to eat, you have two choices: The baker at the front of the store offers a large array of freshly prepared snacks and a wide range of premium coffees. Or what about the deli, the store’s gastronomy section? Customers can quickly find something delicious to eat here. This is also a place where you can relax and savour your food in an open, chic setting – with benches, stools and easy chairs for customers who have some time on their hands. The menu may change. But a couple of things will always remain the same, even if they are not listed separately: high quality and lots of fresh foods.
“More emotion, more experiences”
Stefan Weiss, head of the business area Sales Germany at REWE Markt GmbH
What is special about the REWE supermarkets of the generation 2020?
Stefan Weiss: The new store concept is designed to awaken emotions. We want to turn shopping into much more of an experience for our customers. This includes a modern, airy store design with furnishings that create a feeling of lightness and with product worlds that are clearly arranged. The heart of our concept 2020 is the “marketplace of freshness” where fruit and vegetables are presented as they would be in a farmers’ market: with a wide, bountiful selection of the highest quality of goods. Another important element is the completely redesigned service area with sales counters for cheese, cold cuts and – depending on the location – fish. Convenience has also been given a much higher priority in the assortment.
Has a single concept been created for all REWE stores?
Stefan Weiss: The concept of Supermarket 2020 is modular. We can select individual elements and combine them like building blocks so that the store precisely meets the needs of the particular location. As a result, our supermarket business can respond even better to the special regional and local features of a location. Nonetheless, you will see many of the same style elements in every store. This helps REWE to maintain its brand identity, and customers know: This is a REWE store. I can quickly and easily buy fresh, high quality products here, no matter whether they shop at a small REWE store or a REWE CENTER store.
What role will catering play in the stores of the future?
Stefan Weiss: Customers should also be able to experience REWE’s catering expertise, which means high quality and lots of fresh products offered in an emotionally appealing setting. Dining areas should be a fixed part of every store whenever space conditions permit. Here as well, we are using a tool of modules from which we can choose the right elements to suit the location.