How Grocery Stores Can Compete With QSRs
Grocery stores today are quickly transforming into destinations that expand beyond their traditional produce, packaged food and deli offerings to offer consumers a foodservice experience similar to that of quick-serve restaurants (QSRs). As consumers increasingly expect grocery stores to provide customized and unique dining experiences through cafés and fast-casual food stations, as well as prepared food sections, grocery stores face growing pressure to compete for market share with QSRs.
The growing convergence of grocery stores and QSRs presents business challenges for grocery stores — but also the potential for growth in higher-margin areas. To satisfy shifting consumer demand and ensure that they aren’t being left behind, grocery store managers must adapt their business practices and operational processes to encourage return customers.
Hygiene is Good for Business
As grocery stores expand their foodservice offerings, implementing good hygiene practices is crucial in every department. Maintaining cleanliness throughout the entire grocery store, including restrooms and foodservice areas, can go a long way in contributing to customers’ positive perception of a grocery store’s brand image and encouraging return customers.
The growth of prepared foods and grab-and-go food options in grocery stores also means that keeping salad bars and food preparation areas cleaned and sanitized is critical to promoting hygiene and protecting health. This is especially important during cold and flu season, since most studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person for up to 48 hours after being deposited on a surface. Therefore, grocery store managers should ensure that easily dispensed paper napkins, touch-free paper towel dispensers and hand sanitizer stands are available throughout stores for customers and employees to use.
Grocery stores can also improve the health of employees, customers and the community by promoting good hand hygiene. Implementing hand-washing routines can increase customer loyalty; in fact, noticing that foodservice staff have clear routines for hand washing makes almost one in two customers more willing to eat at a restaurant or foodservice establishment again.
Posting signage directing employees to wash their hands properly, which helps mitigate the risks of spreading germs and foodborne illnesses, signals to employees and guests that management is serious about good hand hygiene and food safety. The shift toward QSR-style foodservice within grocery stores also means that adapting food safety and handling processes for both back-of-house and front-of-house operations is important for maintaining hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), a system for preventing and managing food safety hazards.
Increased Focus on Operational Efficiency
To sustain growing in-store dining offerings and compete with QSRs for customers, sustainable, operational efficiency and cost savings are crucial, and flexibility, consistency and performance become higher priorities. Sustainability is increasingly affecting our choices – both as consumers and professionals – with 66 percent of end users saying they would pay more for sustainable options of goods and services.
One way that grocery stores can save money while improving the customer experience is to reduce waste and boost sustainability by stocking paper napkins and takeout containers that are compostable with food waste. Grocery store managers can also stock napkin and paper towel dispensers designed to last, easy to refill for staff and that allow customers only to take what they will use.
To meet hygiene, cleaning and food safety priorities, grocery store staff can also use high-performing products such as compostable paper wipers recommended for use across numerous surfaces, in different environments and for different functions – further reducing cost and cross-contamination from reusable towels, and maximizing efficiency to create a clean environment for customers.
The evolution of grocery stores into destinations that compete with QSRs has meant that it’s more important than ever for grocery stores to offer unique and customized experiences and attract repeat customers. Despite the challenge that grocery stores face to stay ahead of changing consumer preferences and keep up with QSRs, grocery stores can ultimately attract customers and raise their own bottom lines by adapting business practices to step up hygiene efforts, maximize operational efficiency and reduce waste.