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All the right ingredients: with an organized layout, attention to detail and a fresh selection of quality goods, a supermarket's bakery can win over the stomachs and loyalty of its customers. Here are four stores making a difference with their bakery departments.

For anyone with a sweet tooth, it's hard not to notice a supermarket's bakery. Most retailers do everything they can to strategically place cakes, brownies, muffins and more to capture the attention of anyone looking for a tasty treat. And then there's the smell that drifts from the bakery and permeates the entire store, luring even the most disciplined dieters. It's these and other qualities that create in-store bakery opportunities.

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Perishable departments, such as the bakery, are areas where a supermarket has a chance to differentiate itself from its competition, says Alan Hiebert, education department spokesman for the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association. One way a store can do so is by featuring a decorated cake program. According to IDDBA's report, "Consumers in the Bakery: Who, What, When, Where and Why They Buy and How to Get Them to Buy More," 77% of respondents purchased special occasion cakes, and of those respondents, 42% purchased them most often from in-store bakeries. "The more impressive a cake an in-store bakery can produce, the more likely that store is to encourage and maintain customer loyalty," says Hiebert.

Another way a store's bakery can set itself apart from the rest is by implementing an artisan bread program, suggests Hiebert. "Really good bread can be hard to come by, so if a supermarket makes it, it's another opportunity for differentiation," he says. "It's even better if an in-store bakery can partner with an in-store deli sandwich program to provide freshly made sandwiches on quality artisan bread."

Retailers should also consider keeping up with the self-service bakery trend. "Today's time-starved consumer is often looking for the quickest way to get out of the store, but doesn't necessarily want to give up bakery items," says Hiebert. "Self-service is often the best option for them." A self-service section of the bakery shouldn't necessarily replace a service counter, however. "Ordering from the service counter takes more time but often gives the impression of being a higher-end bakery," says Hiebert. "Bakeries would be wise to consider having a wide variety of products available both in service and self-service."

To see how bakeries are putting these and other successful bakery techniques to the test, Grocery Headquarters found examples of outstanding in-store bakeries in four supermarkets in the Chicago area. From an independent and a natural foods store to a discount grocery store and a big grocery chain, we found stores with bakeries that offer the right combination of superb selection, creative and effective displays, superior services and, of course, mouthwatering smells.

SELECTION

Shoppers can walk into a bakery and see a couple of packages of cookies, a few loaves of bread and maybe a couple of varieties of cakes in a small refrigerated case. Or, they can walk into a bakery with a few dozen types of cookies, an abundant selection of muffins and dessert bars, a huge assortment of decorated cakes, pies and more. Shoppers seek the variety presented in the latter scenario, and they'll come back to a store that offers it. When it comes to an in-store bakery's selection, more is definitely more.

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The Whole Foods Market in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood features an outstanding selection of baked goods. Lying inside a sizeable glass counter are a variety of sweets, including miniature creme brulees, tarts and gourmet cakes (including veganfriendly selections such as vegan carrot cake), cookies (kid-friendly Cinnakid cookies caught our eye), pastries and more. A cold case off to one side features individual-sized mousses, vegan cheesecake slices and more.

European-style breads are baked daily here. Customers can choose from a variety including French baguettes, sourdough, Rustic Italian, wheat and rye breads and much more.

What works well at this store is the tremendous amount of options in its bakery. Shoppers can select a couple of pastries for a quick breakfast treat or buy a package of muffins to enjoy for the week. Similarly, a shopper can purchase a whole gourmet cake here or just a couple of slices to sample. The beauty is having the effect of a neighborhood bakery right inside a supermarket.

FRESHNESS

A neighborhood feel is also present at the Treasure Island Foods in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. The store is one of six in this Chicago chain known for its unique variety of specialty foods from around the world in addition to regular grocery items.

Shoppers walking into this store notice the bakery before they even see it--its aroma is delicious. A big old-fashioned oven resides prominently behind an enclosed glass bakery counter, enticing customers to the rear of the store. If this store's unique oven doesn't capture a shopper's attention, its eye-pleasing selection just might. Taking up center stage inside the glass case on our visit was the bakery's specialty--fresh fruit tarts with bright blueberries, kiwis and strawberries. There's no doubt that the smell of freshly baked goods is a draw for shoppers, and the use of noticeably fresh food items such as fruit and whipped creams will have a similar effect. Store signage can guarantee "fresh goods baked daily," but shoppers need to be convinced.

DESIGN AND LAYOUT

Shoppers are also seeking user-friendly stores. No one wants to walk around in circles trying to find their grocery list items. A store with a bakery that excels at the concept of good layout is the Cub Foods in Algonquin, Ill. The Cub Foods chain (part of Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu) is known for its warehouse feel, complete with high ceilings and aisles stacked high with discount grocery items. Despite this store's size, the bakery has a cozy atmosphere.

There is plenty of space between the bakery's main counter (which includes bread and roll racks, a Krispy Kreme self-service center and a cold decorated cake case) and its large center display islands. Shoppers can easily maneuver their way around this bakery section even with a cartful of groceries and a couple of children at their side.

Big, attractive, easy-to-read signs also help make this bakery user-friendly, including a "Dessert Ideas" sign that helps shoppers plan their menus' sweet finale. This bakery also makes information about its special-order decorated cakes readily available on a rack inside its pre-decorated cake case, another sign that the store is going out of its way to make the shopping experience convenient for its customers.

Equally user-friendly is the bakery at the Jewel-Osco store in Crystal Lake, Ill. Its navigability might come as a surprise, considering its size--the bakery counter runs almost the entire length of the store. It's obvious this bakery was carefully planned, as is apparent by its well-defined sections. Each type of baked good has its own display area, making them easy to find. The counter features everything from a display of fresh breads to an enclosed glass case with gourmet cakes, pies and tarts, a whole section devoted to whipped cream cakes and individual-sized parfaits, a large cold case with pre-decorated cakes and cupcakes and more.

Display islands are also placed opposite the bakery counter and to its side. It appears store officials have used these to take advantage of cross-merchandising opportunities: Near the deli sits a display island featuring breads; and near a self-service Krispy Kreme case is a coffee station where consumers can help themselves to a hot cup of joe. Keeping with the user-friendly theme, above the decorated cake case is a well-positioned display rack featuring a generous selection of cake toppers and candles.

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This bakery is also positioned near the store's sprawling produce section, making it easy for shoppers to discover a tempting package of cookies or brownies while they are looking at items like berries or other fruits that go well with dessert. This bakery is difficult to miss--it is a central part of the store.

There are a number of components that must be in place for an in-store bakery to succeed. Shoppers need to be sold on many factors, including three very important ones: good selection, freshness they can see and smell and a layout that is user-friendly and effective. An excellent bakery can mean the difference between a good grocery store and a great one, and it can be the key to inspiring customers to return.
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Title Annotation:Focus on Fresh
Author:Squazzo, Jessica
Publication:Grocery Headquarters
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:1364
Previous Article:Your competitors will just have to watch helplessly as their customers stampede your stores.
Next Article:A new era in dairy: with new products bursting on the scene almost weekly, the dairy department has taken on a different look and a larger role.


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