Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 14
long way since its introduction into the marketplace. The
quality of LED lighting is constantly improving and ad-
Ken's V I E W
vancing energy efficiency along its evolutionary path."
Indeed, for businesses such as food retailers, that oper-
Clean-Up In Aisle 6
ate on slim margins, energy efficiency is a prime concern.
"Mechanical (cooling and refrigeration) efficiency is improving rapidly but continues to be one of the highest single operational costs," according to Tom Henken.
"Fixture-level innovations help with energy use as
well," he continued. "Retailers are implementing solutions
like easy-access, full-view refrigerated and frozen case
doors and doors in non-traditional areas like beer and produce to reduce energy loss. Asymmetrical vestibules help
contain HVAC loss and higher levels of insulation are often implemented to combat overall building energy loss,"
"Temperature and humidity are major HVAC issues
and are being addressed with specialized HVAC equipment specially designed for grocery stores," Joe Keene
agreed. "Refrigeration systems are more efficient than in
the past. Grocers are starting to put doors on cases to conserve energy. Building controls are integrated to control
not only the building temperature but the lights, refrigerated-case temperatures, refrigerated-case lighting, and water consumption, among other systems"
Consumers also shift toward brands that they can believe in, ms consultants' Longbrake said. "Not only does
energy efficiency play a role in the bottom line, but grocers
are more transparent about focusing toward sustainable
"Today's customer seeks brands that will uphold sustainability and energy efficiency responsibly. We encourage our clients toward sustainable and earth-friendly solutions as a core part of our design ethos," added Deborah
Food shopping today offers more variety and enjoyment than in days past. Shoppers expect it, and retailers
must identify the specific desires and preferences of their
clientele to remain successful. It's clear, too, that food
stores have not stopped evolving. What automation and
big data will add to the mix may well be the next big thing
in food retailing. CA
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recent email tersely informed me, "You'll never
That's a lot of junk food to keep track of by any measure,
be alone in aisle 6 again." Which was disturbing. I
and it helps to know what's selling and what's not.
mean, how did the writer know that I enjoy being alone in
On the other hand, there seems to be a demand for
aisle 6 in the first place, and who or what henceforth was
smaller, independent chains alongside the megastores.
going to be crowding the aisle with me?
They're more unique, offer better customer service, can
Big data, that's who, I discovered. Along with Amazon,
make changes almost overnight, and some folks don't
which recently announced the purchase of Whole Foods.
mind spending an extra nickel or two for the experience
That's just swell. Big data will probably be leaving its
of shopping there. Too, new urbanism encourages smaller
shopping cart in the middle of the aisle all the time, and
groceries and specialty food shops that are within walking
Amazon will be whispering that "people who bought this
frequently bought that. You should, too."
That brings up the "European shopping" trend. I take
Aisle 6 used to be a peaceful place, away from the
it to mean almost daily trips to a close-by food emporium
perimeter of the store where all the foodies are buzzing
for the fixings of a single meal. I suspect that, save for a
around the fresh produce, freshly prepared entrées,
few lucky residents of thriving new-urbanist enclaves,
artisanal cheeses, cappuccinos, and whatnot. Store
not a lot of Americans are actually doing anything close
designers tell me that more folks are avoiding the center
to European shopping. For that matter, I'm not sure how
of the store where the prepared foods-in cans, no less-
many Europeans are doing it either.
and other unnatural stuff languish on the shelves.
But, like I said, aisle 6, with its rows of products that
European anyway. Years ago, before gargantuan talking
used to be trees, with its packages that feature unnaturally
refrigerators, or any refrigerators at all, daily trips to
colored bears and cherubic children, was a generally
the grocer or butcher or baker were more necessary.
uncrowded oasis. If one listened closely, one could almost
Even with iceboxes, those primitive insulated boxes with
hear the rustle of the plastic wrap in the breeze from the
real ice, cold storage was limited. Besides, stores were
air conditioning. Now, if I linger too long, big data will be
close, even in neighborhoods far from the central city.
sniffing around, collecting god-knows-what personal
Americans, as well as Europeans, shopped in similar
information about what's in my shopping cart. Did he buy
the toilet paper with the bears or the cute kid? Both are
Stores, in suburbia at least, are no longer so close.
To me, European shopping doesn't mean jumping into an
One shopper, quoted in the book Grocery by Michael
oversized SUV to pick up a few items for tonight's dinner.
Rhulman, said she preferred the self-checkout lane
Rather, I'd call it attention-deficit shopping for people who
because she was sometimes embarrassed by her
can't or won't anticipate what they might eat a day or
purchases. I can almost see that, given the choices. But I
two hence and can't be satisfied with-or remember-a
have news for her; as soon as her purchases are scanned,
dining decision made a few days past. And just what is the
whether by her or another human, big data knows what
point of those giant refrigerators if you shop every day?
she bought anyway.
Then there's the concept of ordering online and picking
By the way, it's interesting that at the store where I
it up in the store. That's apparently where Amazon has an
shop, the self-checkout stations have been demolished
interest, although it's experimenting with something called
and replaced with old-fashioned express lines manned
Amazon Go, too, where you just grab stuff and walk out
by actual people. That runs counter to the trend toward
with it. No checkouts, but you'd better have a smartphone,
transactions that call for less and less human contact. I
or it's shoplifting.
kind of like management for going in the opposite direction.
Wait, wait, I've got it. You use Alexa to order your
Now, I can see the appeal of big data to grocers.
groceries and then send your self-driving car to the store
They operate the slimmest of margins, hovering around 1
by itself to pick them up. With the time you save, you can
1/2%, I'm told. The 3,000-sq.-ft. store of days past became
stay at home with your bloated, nearly empty refrigerator
30,000 sq. ft. and then 90,000 in some instances. In 1975,
and try to figure out why your electric and gasoline
the average store had fewer than 9,000 items. By 2008,
expenditures are so high.
the number had quintupled, according to Rhulman's book.
- Kenneth W. Betz, Senior Editor