Will the Indian retailers learn from this experience?


Off -late there has been a spate of malls, multiplexes and new format retail stores that have spawned across Indian cities. I have always felt, these have become more of a problem for the average shopper, as these are extremely crowded, just take too much of time to check-out and I always figure out that I end-up buying more than what I had planned for! Also, there are promotions, offers, product sampling happening across these stores every hour, every minute.

David Polinchock ‘s post about an article in NY times on how some of the retailers are changing caught my attention. Here are some excerpts from it:

"Food Lion, a 1,220-store chain owned by the Delhaize Group of Brussels, is making changes. Robin Johnson, director for marketing and brand development at Food Lion, said that when her team started working on a new store concept called Bloom three years ago, they took a red pen to every aspect of supermarket design.

"For the past several decades, stores have been run in a way that benefits the store and the company’s bottom line," Ms. Johnson said.

By contrast, she said, the new store concept "was born from what the customer wants: to take the hassle out of grocery shopping.

"Bloom stores – there are now five, all in North Carolina – feature a quick-stop area in front for shoppers who just want eggs and milk or something for dinner. Traditionally, supermarkets have placed such high-volume items at the back of the store in hopes that the journey may inspire other purchases.

"Why have we played these games with customers?" Ms. Johnson asked.

The new stores also have wider aisles, lower shelves and no candy at the checkout aisles, to cut down on temptations for children. Ice cream is at the front so it is less likely to melt before reaching home.

Ms. Johnson and her team have also banned promotional displays from the aisles, saying that they generate nice fees from vendors, but clog cart traffic. "Taking them out is a scary thing for a retailer to do," she said, "because it’s revenue and they’re designed to drive impulse sales."

Christina Minardi, head of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region for Whole Foods, said she doubted large chains would be able to replicate the appeal of her company’s stores. "It’s a lot more than paint and new lighting," she said. "We have developed a whole culture here."

Are the Indian retailers listening?

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