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Conventional wisdom.

Determining the store of the immediate future begins with a reminder that there will not be one, but several stores of the immediate future. These will be formats with which consumers will be readily able to identify and which marketers will employ to do battle.

Each format will be sited to take maximum advantage of market and competitive conditions, and will be further refined to reflect local psychographic and demographic factors. Thus, not one, but several permutations of each format will be operated in a single market by the same chain.

Such precise market positioning will become the rule rather than the exception in the years to come. While suppliers have targeted their products and promotions for some time now, supermarket operators are just beginning to do so, using different store formats as an important part of the total marketing statement.

We have chosen to concentrate on the conventional supermarket in this conceptual exercise, despite predictions of its imminent demise in the face of the "hot" new formats.

Notwithstanding the fact that the conventional supermarket may continue to suffer a decline in absolute number of stores and market share, we believe its outlook is far from grim. Into the immediate future (at least), it will continue to predominate as the primary delivery vehicle for everyday ordinary food and non-food merchandise most compatible with a food-oriented retail environment.

It should be emphasized that, with limited exceptions, it will not be possible to mix major elements of the different store formats in a single store.

At the same time, there is now firm evidence that "cookie-cutter" formats, which can be forever rolled out in exactly the same form, are a thing of the past. Stores will now have to be developed with enginered-in flexibilities to allow them to deal in the long run with changing consumer trends and lifestyles.

The store format conceptualized by the Doody Company incorporates many of the elements seen as trends that will continue into the immediate future. The conceptual store plan does not show such departments as a pharmacy, electronic bank, photo department, or restaurant. However it very well could incorporate them, either through expansion of its 35,000-square-foot net selling area, by substituting them for existing areas (such as the floral department), or by trading off merchandise capacity. Its intent is to form a base through which minimal reconfigurations of space can enable such areas to be incorporated. Planning

As with other self-service oriented establishments, a limited number of opportunities exist for food retailers to demonstrate their commitment to service.

Service begins--and ends--at the front door. Therefore, the customer service counter has been positioned to offer a strong statement of service from the moment the customer enters the store.

The most dramatic way to convince the customer of a dedication to service is to ensure a memorable final contact. Grocery carts are taken from the customer after checking out and sent through a special door for queuing for pickup under a covered drive-through.

Operationally, carts are efficiently recycled into their own storage area for reuse by new shoppers. This system eliminates the double handling of bagged groceries typically involved with other types of customer pickup systems. It also has the potential of saving on labor costs since the handling function can be performed by non-checkout personnel. Obviously, since carts do not leave the store, damage and theft are virtually eliminated.

Traditional demands for service are met by using a central bakery/deli core and a separate service meat counter.

The center-core concept, in our opinion, is a leading-edge trend in store formats. By moving service departments away from the perimeter walls, the area becomes visible from the moment the customer enters the store and remains continually in view throughout the whole shopping trip. Thus, it offers multiple opportunities for customer exposure and reinforces not only a service, but a fresh food orientation.

Operationally, the center core offers staffing flexibility, since during slow periods different functions can be staffed by the same employee.

With the bakery/deli dominating the center core, the floral and produce departments are placed first in the traffic pattern to increase the perception of freshness.

The meat department has been sited as a prime point in the store with the service meat counter as the center of its stage. Packaged meats are featured on the wall in multi-deck cabinets with a shallow top and second shelves providing sight lines that allow the full depth of each shelf to be seen. This increases the customer perception of selection and variety. Frozen meats are positioned in free-standing open coffin cases.

Basically, the store is divided into three distinct sections--fresh foods, grocery, and non-foods. Throughout the store, alcovers are deployed to enable smaller merchandise statements to be more clearly made within major focal points.

The dairy department, the only fresh food area outside of the fresh food world, is positioned on the far wall to draw customers into the back corner and lead them into the grocery world. Its use as a transition department helps direct the traffic flow and ensures a fully shopped store.

Grocery items are positioned in 35-foot runs. While some merchandise capacity is lost, the shorter runs increase circulation and create additional promotional ends, providing the opportunity for higher impulse sales. There is no absolute answer to whether long or short gondola runs should be used. Short runs enable customers to see every merchandise category more clearly as they pass the gondola or cross the aisle. The argument that long gondolas are good is only valid if customers go down them. While customers use the gondolas as a shopping list for food, they don't like to be forced down long runs to be reminded of things they didn't come in to buy.

Frozen foods are placed near the end of the shopping trip to reduce the anxiety of having frozen items in the cart early in the shopping trip and the consequent likelihood of shortened shopping time.

To maximize sales of HBA, it should be intermixed in the non-foods world to encourage circulation into and through these higher margin departments. The fixtures have been designed and turned to help HBA stand out as a merchandise world by itself within the non-foods word. Design

In the case of the supermarket, the argument can be made that a little design for its own sake might not necessarily be so bad. Supermarkets have a long way to go in overcoming the fact that many customers view shopping in a resentful and sometimes aggressive fashion. To combat this, environments need to be made relaxed, yet fun. Stores need more visual pizzazz to make the shopping trip more experiential.

Generally, as the partial rendering of the center-core island illustrates, the proper use of classical architectural forms, natural textures, including natural woods, fabrics and tiles, warm natural light, bright stimulating colors and flowing graphics enhances the shopping experience and help create a strong image of friendliness, progressiveness and value.

Architecturally, operators need to be more concerned with the positioning statements their exteriors make. Exterior treatments need to complement interiors and be integrated into them, rather than segregated from them. One way to do this is by opening exteriors up and letting natural light into the store, where it has the potential to relieve shopper stress.

Graphics should function not just in a directional or informational mode, but should enhance decor and merchandise presentation. Supergraphic murals, which should be planned into a store rather than added as an afterthought, have a great capacity to meet this criteria.
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Title Annotation:store design
Author:Galloway, Kenneth W.; Murphy, Michael E.
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Jan 1, 1984
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