How to survive the radically different landscape for Food and Beverage retailers (hint: it’s all about the experience).
Recent years have seen a boom in service-based technology. Apps and websites like Uber, Taskrabbit, and Grubhub have taken over the market as time- and effort -saving tools for the modern consumer. Naturally, the advent of service-based tech has brought new challenges for traditional retailers―--and food and beverage retailers have been hit particularly hard. A proliferation of delivery-based apps and online grocery services have meant a radical new retail landscape for restaurants and grocery stores alike. Consumer expectations for food and beverage retailers are shifting towards an increasingly powerful duality between uber-convenience on the one hand, and hyper-experiential on the other.
Here, we take a look at some key areas that consumers expect when it comes to F&B retailing, and how retailers are meeting these demands.
First, let’s talk about convenience
As consumers become accustomed to the ease of online or app-based food shopping, grocery stores and quick-service restaurants will have to adjust to an increased demand for quick-and-easy food service solutions. This means an emphasis on prepared foods and meal kits―--take the “grocerant” trend―--as well as a focus on food delivery and pick-up sites. Whole Foods, for instance, has debuted a locker-based order pick-up system which includes, with refrigerated food lockers located near store entrances― so customers can order online and pick up in-store without having to navigate aisles or crowds. Restaurants, too, are beginning to focus on providing intuitive pick-up locations for online orders to ease customer transactions.
Convenience also means a streamlined store design with clear signage and informed staff. Trader Joe’s staff are encouraged to chat with customers about their products and provide suggestions based on consumer preferences. And, even at fast casual restaurants, servers are expected to be equipped with information about food preparation and source. In order to compete with online food services, grocery stores and restaurants alike will have to provide a comprehensive and intuitive shopping experience.
A Focus on Fun
What the online grocer can’t provide, though, is a personal, pleasurable, and fun dining or shopping experience. While grocery stores and restaurants should keep things streamlined and efficient, they certainly shouldn’t neglect the experience-based shopping experience that brings customers off their couch and into stores. This is, again, where the grocerant trend comes in―--more and more grocery stores are emphasizing a pleasant and even chic in-store dining experience for shoppers who want to grab a meal before picking up groceries, or even as a stand-alone as an independent dining experience. Some grocery stores have begun incorporating high-end coffee and even wine bars into stores to make for an enjoyable and unique shopping experience.
Meanwhile, restaurants need to focus on a pleasurable and engaging dining experience. More and more restaurants are providing a unique dining experience, from innovative plating, to more engaging and personable waitstaff. Even quick-service restaurants are featuring pleasant store design, including hip fixtures and art installations in order to appeal to the demands of the Instagram generation. Special events, too, can bring customers in, for everything from wine tastings to pasta-making lessons. Keeping it fresh and interesting will require providing what online services can’t―--a fun, personable dining experience.
The food and beverage retail landscape is changing rapidly. In order to keep up, retailers will have to think hard about what they can provide to keep customers interested. Both radical innovation and simple solutions will be key to moving forward with intuitive, quick, and fun food and beverage retail experiences.