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Time to Rethink How We View Food Retailing

Time to Rethink How We View Food Retailing

I would suggest it is time to rethink the way we look at food retailing. We are experiencing a huge paradigm shift — everything from the way we attract shoppers, to the foods they purchase (and why) to where they purchase these foods.

Our industry typically looks at and operates supermarkets by dissecting the store into categories or departments, which is very old school.

Today, we must expand our thought processes and think about the store holistically, and how it does, or does not, meet the lifestyle and nutrition needs of shoppers.

Saying we put the shopper first isn’t enough, it’s easy lip service that seemingly stakeholders buy into. Operating a chain of stores — or even just one supermarket — is a very difficult endeavor.

The logistics are unfathomable to one outside our industry. However, we are at a watershed moment in our industry as the size of stores shrink, as consumers continue to shop for foods in non-traditional stores and as science continues to give us reasons to change the way, and what, we are eating and drinking.

The speed of adoption forces us to move faster. The tools of social networking can shift union negotiations, labeling, stock prices, shopping patterns and food product claims or benefits in an instant. Brands had the power for decades, then the power shifted to the retailer and today it is in the hands of the shopper — where it will stay. And everyone, including the shopper, knows it.

Food blogs underscore the importance and impact. People Tweet and post photos (with lavish descriptions) of the foods they make in their kitchens on their Facebook page. Food is the new universal language.

Time to discard our old ways of thinking about selling food. It is not about price, or quality, or sampling, or in-store experiences or even service – it is about all these things and every touchpoint that surrounds the shopper.

We must find a new way of looking at both our physical and virtual stores as an integrated system to provide taste, wellness and enjoyment to shoppers rather than a group of non-related departments.

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