WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Raley's Supermarkets and Drug Centers here are sprucing up Center Store with new Beverage Plus beverage and snack food departments.
Beverage Plus combines all of the soft drinks, isotonics, new age products, canned and bottled juice and water in one convenient-to-shop area, which also houses salty snacks, including chips, pretzels, popcorn and jerky. The aisle is located next to the cold beer case and the wine and liquors department in the rear center of the store. It has four aisles, 52 feet long, and occupies about 1,300 square feet of selling space.
"Basically what we have tried to do is to bring some excitement to Center Store," Dennis Ferguson, senior vice president, advertising & merchandising, told SN.
"We've taken all the beverages in the store and have put them in one easy-to-shop location," Ferguson said. "We wanted to see what we could do differently and really try to think outside the box."
Part of that thinking can be seen in the innovative shelf sets used in the Beverage Plus department.
Gone is the traditional straight-edge shelving, replaced with "wavy-style" gondolas. Two-liter bottles of soft drinks "hang by their necks" from self-feeding racks. The 12-packs also are merchandised from self-feeding racks that are on wheels, so they can be easily loaded from the rear, enabling the product to be automatically rotated.
"This is brand new for our chain, and cuts down on our stocking costs," Ferguson said.
"At the same time we are letting the soft drink companies test their motion studies [sets]. This is really a joint venture between us and the soft drink companies," he added.
In the middle of the department are two 24-foot-by-24-foot cold boxes. A smaller chill box is at the front of the department for single-serve beverages.
"We also have a large area inside the department for displaying the ad item of the week," Ferguson said.
To date, Raley's has two Beverage Plus departments in operation. The first opened in late October in Ceres, Calif., and the second opened in early November in Fairfield, Calif. While both of those stores are new locations, Raley's plans to add a Beverage Plus department next year to its existing Grass Valley, Calif., unit, which will be remodeled.
Ferguson said Raley's hopes to have five Beverage Plus departments up and running next year. It will then evaluate the success of the concept before rolling it out further.