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Defending the Perimeter against Amazon


If some grocery stores are feeling like late 1990s bookstores, that’s because of the many headlines threatening the industry with a three-word message: Amazon is coming. The online giant is targeting grocery store customers with online pantry staple subscription plans, corner convenience stores and curbside order fulfillment.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “while Wal-Mart and other retailers, including Ahold USA and Meijer Inc., are pouring money into ramping up online sales, the grocers are also buckling down on the basics of the produce department. That’s because high-quality fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods are emerging as a physical store’s best defense against growing competition from Inc.”

Most grocery experts know that produce is the hook that captures shopping frequency, but once in the section, shoppers need to see the entire store perimeter filled with options that online retailers cannot provide. Eric Richard, education coordinator for the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA), suggests expanding salad bar variety and offering a full menu of made-to-order sandwiches as just a couple of ways to keep shoppers coming back to the store for more.

Richard also recommends adding juice or coffee bars to update bakeries, which could cross-purpose for pizza production to offer pizza by the slice, made-to-order, or take-and-bake. Another idea: Adding new self-service features to the salad bar, like a pho bar.

“Draw in new shoppers seeking certain cuisine and flavors, as well as current shoppers looking for a change of pace and new lunching ideas,” says Richard.

Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

  • An on-trend salad bar with the latest seasonal and regional produce
  • Herbs, noodles and broth for DIY noodle bowls
  • More room in the deli or bakery for made-to-order sandwiches, juices and other signature items
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