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Unusual Service, Novel Product Key to Building Store Traffic

Unusual Service, Novel Product Key to Building Store Traffic

By David Merrefield
Editorial Director

The name of the game in supermarket retailing is to offer product or service outside the realm of the expected to generate new store traffic, or to stimulate repeat business. At least, that’s the name of one of the games in supermarket retailing.

There are many ways to get beyond the expected. One is to offer seasonals — and more. Obviously, seasonals provide opportunity to bring in new product frequently, often on an in-and-out basis. This time of year is the peak moment for seasonals, and with them comes the opportunity to reach beyond the expected.

One way is through the offer of speciality holiday chocolates. That product has a mention in this week’s SN, but the real point is that there are countless means to effectuate holiday seasonals, and the more unusual the product offered the better.

Beyond that, methods that set up reasons for shoppers to return to the store more frequently than they otherwise might are ideal. Ways to do that include offers such as dry cleaning, video rentals, medical-oriented services such as flu shots, in-store banking and the now-popular low-cost prescription drugs, among many others.

Even services such as fuel sales, automated teller machines and coin redemption can build traffic. There are other less obvious methods too, several of which have been described in these pages lately. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

• Document shredding: This unusual service is being offered by Duthler’s Family Food, Grand Rapids, Mich. Here’s how the four-store independent is offering its shoppers a way to shred paper: An outside vendor installs in-store drop boxes for shoppers. Users fill a provided envelope with paper they want to obliterate, then put it into the box. Later, paper to be destroyed is picked up by the vendor and shredded. The shopper receives confirmation of destruction by email or text message. The fee is $5 per envelope. Should this service catch on, it could promote repeat traffic: There’s seldom a letup in paper that should be shredded.

• Dollar stores: This form of retailing remains in steady, although not spectacular, growth mode and is increasingly encroaching into supermarket product. One obvious solution put to work by numerous chains is to join the fray by offering a dollar section. It takes a fine hand, though, to make such a section work in a supermarket. The difficulty has to do with credibility: The dollar values must be real and noticeable since the section is within a sea of higher-priced product. A possible way to make the dollar section more credible is to put it into an adjacent space with separate entrance. In any case, a successful dollar section can help build traffic, especially if product is changed rapidly, which promotes the treasure-hunt effect.

The separate-entrance solution can also be used for the sale of fresh-prepared product. In that instance, convenience would be the motivating factor for the separate space.

• Money transfers: Finally, numerous supermarket chains offer money-transfer services so shoppers can transmit sums of money across long distances in a short time. The same service can also be used by shoppers to pay bills. This service too should promote repeat traffic.