Food Entrepreneur - March 2, 2021 - 4

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FOOD
STORE
Retailers will need to create an environment that educates
and curates a customized experience for consumers
BY NATALIE SHMULIK

W

hile the explosive growth of e-commerce may suggest
less in-store shopping, essential food businesses are
here to stay. Far from becoming obsolete, grocery
retailers have gained a new opportunity to innovate in a quickly
evolving market.
As shoppers start spending more time in stores, retailers
will continue placing a greater emphasis on food and patron
safety. At the same time, they
have the opportunity to promote a
wider, more inclusive selection of
products, elevate new brands and
leverage tactile in-store components to heighten exploration and
discovery. To thrive in this market,
retailers will need to create an
environment that educates and
curates a customized experience
for consumers.
Establishing this environment sometimes begins even
before consumers enter the store. Outdoor space, including the
parking lot, exterior merchandising and patio dining all may
be part of a cohesive shopping experience. Emerging out of a
pandemic, Dom's Kitchen & Market is opening its first store in
Chicago in April. Building on recent industry shifts and new
safety needs, Dom's will have an outdoor restaurant-style dining
area for customers to enjoy made-to-order meals and products
from its specialty
market.
Retailers
may also prepare
customers for their
visit with customized content highlighting the latest
trends and new
niche products.
In an information-heavy climate,
engaging with
reputable agents to
Natalie Shmulik is the chief executive officer
become the authorof The Hatchery Chicago, a food and beverage
ity on grocery will
incubator. Email editor@sosland.com.

EREWHON MARKET

help retailers build a trusting relationship with today's mindful
consumers.
The team at upscale West Coast grocery chain Erewhon is
" passionate about carrying the most-healthful, revolutionary, exciting " products, said Vito Antoci, vice president of brand management. To achieve this goal, Erewhon's website shares information
to empower consumers in their quest for healthful ingredients.
Some players are invigorating the retail environment by
replacing traditional departments
with new and unexpected categories. Erewhon's customers can find
specialized products in its novel Café
& Tonic Bar, while temporary exhibit-turned-market Pop Up Grocer is
reclassifying its aisles with intuitive
names like " Crunch " and " Balls, Bars
+ Bits. " Elevated convenience store
concept Foxtrot Market also uses fun
graphics to engage customers and illustrations instead of words
to label grocery sections.
Moving forward, creating a curated and inclusive experience should be top of mind for retailers. In late 2020, Foxtrot
launched its Up and Comers Small Makers Award program to
find the next great brand. Customers were invited to vote online,
building excitement and community engagement with the
store. Chief marketing officer Carla Dunham said that in addition to " continuing to flow in newness on a monthly basis, " the
contest gives emerging women-founded, minority-owned and
mission-based brands the opportunity to get noticed. Keen to
support local, Dom's Kitchen & Market is also launching an end
cap featuring makers from The Hatchery's non-profit incubator,
which supports Chicago's West Side entrepreneurs, primarily
women and Black-owned businesses.
These initiatives hit the heart of in-store retail's new role and
responsibility. Beyond checking off their grocery lists, consumers
seek to immerse themselves in a safe environment where they
can gain empowering information and build meaningful connections with brands. As on-the-ground changemakers, retailers can
respond by altering the industry landscape, diversifying shelves
and giving voice to innovative entrepreneurs and startups.
Rather than focusing on transactional relationships, stores can
partner with brands that speak to consumers' values - and move
shopping off the screen and in the store. ▪

Moving forward, creating
a curated and inclusive experience should be top of
mind for grocery retailers.

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March 2, 2021

2/26/2021 11:25:18 AM



Food Entrepreneur - March 2, 2021

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