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PG’s Grocerant Summit: Improve Customer Experience


Craveable foods draw people into your prepared foods departments, but supermarkets still have work to do to improve the perception of their products, according to Kim Camp of Hillphoenix’s Learning Center Programs, on Day 2 of Progressive Grocer’s Grocerant Summit held near Chicago.

Americans currently are spending more money in restaurants than they are in supermarkets, but Camp offered five critical factors for a successful grocerant program:

  • Menu
  • Layout and flow
  • Talent
  • Versatility of equipment
  • Merchandising

When developing the menu, grocers need to know and cater to the local customer base, and also think about the "around the clock" shopping community.

When designing the department, make sure that staff is forward facing to facilitate communication between them and the customers, she noted, and also suggested hiring staff members that love talking about food and will help educate customers. Equipment decisions need to be made with multiple dayparts in mind with each piece used for multiple products like the blender for making smoothies in the morning and milkshakes in the afternoon.

Merchandising plays a key role in tantalizing that customer into a purchase, but perhaps the most important thing, Camp affirmed, was that your department must be able to be found by customers when they are searching for food options. You must have an online presence, either through social media or review sites.

Digital Presence

Chef Charlie Baggs agreed that a digital presence is necessary and retailers need to communicate with customers via social media, apps, text messages and emails to spread the love of your prepared foods departments. Baggs and Chef Steven Petusevsky discussed a culinary blueprint for a successful program, with Petusevsky noting that the menu sets the personality and retailers need to create products that can be executed every day of the year.

When establishing the menu, remember that food fads should never outweigh what the community actually wants, and for added variety, retailers can turn a familiar product, right or left of center, with unique flavor profiles. Along with Camp, Petusevsky noted that craveability is the key especially with foods that respect the legacy of the local culture.

The day’s programming also included the Hormel Foods team presenting ideas on how to take flavor insights and making them into actionable product solutions as well as a panel of retail dietitians sharing insights on how retailers can use the dietitians’ expertise to improve the customers’ understanding of how to shop the prepared foods department and incorporate it with products in the rest of the store.

The summit concluded with a panel discussion on the importance of communicating with customers through digital signage and a team from Second City re-enacting some of the common problems customers often run into when shopping the prepared foods departments.

Grocerant 2017 will be held September in Schaumburg, Ill.

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