Grocery Store: Past and Future

Grocery Store: Past and Future
Technology and innovation highly impact the development of grocery stores. Throw on a pandemic-what’s the new norm?

From the expansion of self-checkout lanes, to the normalization of curbside pickup and delivery, shopping for groceries is yet another activity that gone through a great deal of change.

Despite the every changing times, the constant has been the grocery store layout. While there are several options, markets are typically arranged the same way they’ve been for years. But will these common designs remain ubiquitous, or are there changes on the horizon?

Let’s take a quick look at today’s layouts and explore trends and developments.

The Primary Four
Modern day grocery stores are typically arranged into one of four layouts: grid, herringbone, loop or free-flow.

Grid is likely the layout that comes to mind when you think of most western grocery stores. A familiar and predictable grid of aisles contain products and invite shoppers to walk throughout the store.

Herringbone works well for narrow and elongated markets. The entrance and checkout are aligned on opposite ends of the store, and aisles flank the path.

Loop is another common grocery store layout, where customers walk in one direction on a designated path. This encourages customers to see every type of item for sale.

Lastly is the free-flow layout, which has no set design template. The store manager might arrange the market in a unique way to appeal to customers’ interests while also introducing lesser known products.

It’s All About the Experience
The aforementioned layouts are tried and true, and they’re likely not disappearing anytime soon.  While they all have their pros and cons, they encourage customers to find their staple items while also discovering new items.
However, these layouts will be adapted to enhance one crucial element of shopping – the customer’s experience.

Grocery stores want their customers to associate visiting their store with positivity and uniqueness. Novel components, like in-store cooking demos or digital displays that change, are becoming more common to enliven what has typically been a monotonous errand.

Another trending part of the grocery store experience is in-store dining. Markets like Whole Foods and Wegmans are partially viewed as a restaurant. The ability to sit and eat fresh, high-quality food before or after shopping contributes to making the grocery store experience memorable.

The Effects of Online Expansion

The pandemic catapulted many customers to ordering online. Whether it be through delivery or curbside pickup, some customers feel more comfortable staying out of the store.

A certain number of customers will continue to enjoy the convenience of shopping online, and this newfound focus may motivate grocery stores to extend their back room and more efficiently handle internet orders.

However, the expansion of online grocery store shopping has put even further emphasis on the grocery store experience. Markets are motivated more now than ever to draw customers through their doors, and they want them to leave excited about returning.

Connecting to the Community
Another popular trend impacting grocery store layouts is the local connection. When the grocery store connects to the community, either through art and displays highlighting the area or locally-sourced products, the grocery store experience is more singular and special. Additionally, the market is seen as an extension of the community, rather than just another store in town.