Earlier this week, a reporter from a consumer magazine contacted me to chat about added value items at the supermarket.
As I started pulling together examples of fresh ideas in produce, meat and deli, it occurred to me that some of the most interesting and unique finds actually may have been “borrowed” from somewhere else.
Take Lowes Foods’ Pick & Prep stations. Customers can pick out any whole produce in the store, explain how they’d like it prepared, and the Pick & Prep workers will slice, dice, chop and cube to the customers’ specifications. What a time saver for consumers, and a great bit of theater for the store.
But hold on just a minute. This sounds strikingly similar to the “vegetable butchers” Eataly first debuted at its New York retail location back in 2010.
Another of my favorites was the preassembled cheese boards at Haggen. Alongside multiple varieties of cheese, these party platters include items like nuts, fruit, olives and sliced meats. Haggen also recommends crackers and wine pairings for each themed board.
Again, this idea was déjà vu for me — I saw premade cheese plates at the Show & Sell Center at IDDBA’s Dairy-Deli-Bake last year.
Of course, “borrowing” ideas from other sources is nothing new for the retail industry. Price Chopper spent years perfecting the restaurant concepts at its Market Bistro location, taking inspiration from places like Seattle’s Pike Place Market and Beale Street in Memphis.
Heck, H-E-B has even been meeting directly with Sobeys for tips on designing and running a small-format store.
Yet, with more and more consumers seeking convenience — and many times willing to pay more for it — these simple time savers can really make a difference in determining which store they choose for their next meal.
The newest Whole Foods in Manhattan’s Upper East Side has plenty of innovative added value concepts that other retailers could “borrow.” In the meat department, Whole Foods pulls together all the ingredients for a slow cooker meal. The store also makes infused waters with fresh produce, like rosemary and grapefruit.
It probably wouldn’t take much for other retailers, even those without a high-end focus, to incorporate most of the ideas listed above. If it’s a good concept, customers won’t care where it came from.
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