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PULSE at FMI Connect: Showrooming as a Grocery Solution


Imagine asking a grocery retailer to give up 20 percent of their floor space. The likely response is a very impolite version of “no.”

Nadia Shouraboura, founder and CEO of Hointer Inc., a retail technology consultancy, shared her experience in adapting her own – now successful – retail business, with proprietary technology and a warehouse mentality, with attendees at PULSE, an event that took place within FMI Connect in Chicago. Shouraboura’s journey is just the kind of disruptive thinking that is both captivating and challenging to digest. In short order, this could really shake up grocery retail.

Shouraboura addressed attendees to PULSE: Technology Enabling the Path to Modern Retailing, presented collaboratively by Progressive Grocer, Retail Leader and the Food Marketing Institute. A former VP at Amazon, Shouraboura works with retailers to develop innovative in-store shopping solutions. For both her Seattle-based Hointer apparel store, and with other retailers, including Macy’s, Shouraboura developed a showroom-style shopper area, paired with a “micro warehouse” inspired by Amazon’s successful fulfillment model.

Showrooms comprise 80 percent of space, and feature well-merchandised examples of products with which shoppers are able to interact. Whether through their phones or via a store-based device, shoppers select items that are then expeditiously bundled in the warehouse and ready for them as they leave the store. The real magic is behind the scenes – literally, for now, as Shouraboura customizes the approach for each retailer and addresses unique issues such as out-of-stocks and assortment on a case-by-case basis. In the case of grocery retail, it might be that non-perishable items are stocked in the micro warehouse, while shoppers select their own fresh offerings in a completely different experiential setting.

As Shouraboura told attendees: It’s important for shoppers to enjoy themselves while shopping. Take away cumbersome picking, counting items, and other distractions, and allow shoppers to maintain their positive mood as they move through the store.

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