Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kroger’s ‘New Concept Store’ Main & Vine

Consumers love new store openings, the excitement, the hype, smiling employees excited about a new job, perfectly faced shelves fully stocked, it’s an adventure, a treat, and hopefully a ‘find /reward’ worth a revisit according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®

Main & Vine is Kroger’s new concept store, located in Gig Harbor, Washington which is a long way from Cincinnati, Ohio.  Main & Vine from our first visit appears to be what Kroger’s managers wanted to build for years but were not allowed too in short it is a Whole Food’s lookalike with ‘show-rooming’ e-commerce twist.  

Here is the problem, what they built in our opinion is closer to what Whole Foods in the 1995’s wanted to become and became in the 2005 plus mail-order.  Today, Whole Foods has moved, grocerant niche customers have moved, and this concept store will evolve or dissolve.   

Kroger’s is clearly still stuck in the past, eluding the middle, and avoiding the future.  Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food is driving customer migration, this store will capitalize on that fact, but that alone will not drive the top line sales and bottom line profits for success going forward. 

Main & Vine is much like Kroger’s recently acquired Mariano’s (Chicago).  It is a high service perishable driven store that invests very heavily in labor, due to a lack of grocerant niche integration, and operational throughput understandings according to our team’s observations.  

It appears that, while they may have the ability to drive high sales volume during the opening, they will not achieve the volume necessary to routinely cover all require operational inefficiencies and misplaced labor cost.   There is a clear lack of acceptance of or lack of understanding of operational efficiencies and grocerant niche customer expectations /demands in today’s retail marketplace.  

Main & Vine is a standard footprint store trying to compete with small footprint units that specialize in, In & Out shopping trips which make up about 72% of small-box retail trips that will pose a conundrum for both Kroger and consumers.  However, that is what happens when your directors, designers, and consultants utilize metrics from the past to guide the present. Successful Omni-channel retail requires consumer interaction and participation built-in, not just for out of stock items; it requires a merchant mentality not a category manager regiment.  

Clearly the melancholy of mediocrity is not lost at Kroger or at Main & Vine.  Grocery sector deli sales last year were close to $ 11 Billion, and are growing at a 10% pace.  There is plenty of room for mediocrity, experimentation, and concept testing.  Foodservice Solutions® teams suggestion, don’t try to be what Whole Foods was, evolve your own brand, your own identity. 

Winning the battle for share of stomach requires more than looking like other retailers past success, showrooming, or mail-order.  Copycat development will keep you brand, a brand of yesterday, not a brand of tomorrow.  The battle for customer’s attention is top of mind for retailers when it comes to food.  The undercurrents of that fight can be found among restaurants, supermarkets, drug stores, and convenience stores. Is your brand prepared to win a greater share of stomach in 2016? 

The grocerant niche mix & match meal component platform is the New Normal in retail foodservice. Edifying your foodservice operation with customer focused meal personalization, customization, and local differentiation is a success clue no retailer should overlook.

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Scorecard or a Grocerant Program Assessment before you start your remodel or new test concept.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche, or Contact:

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