When I read, I look for patterns. One of the patterns I am currently seeing is the amount of effort that retailers are putting into developing new ways of doing business. It is as if the Coronavirus pandemic has knocked all the cobwebs out of retail’s collective brains.
Consider these headlines:
Grocery trends: Fewer new products, but more changes in supermarkets and shopping – Washington Post
Rite Aid unveils new branding; testing ‘store of the future’ design – Chain Store Age
Walmart to redesign nearly 1,000 stores – Chain Store Age
Staples Seeks to Buy Office Depot, Again – Wall Street Journal
Circle K owner Couche-Tard explores acquisition of Carrefour – Supermarket News
Dollar General to Open 1,050 New Stores in 2021 – Commercial Construction & Renovation Magazine
7-Eleven expands new store format – Chain Store Age
Dollar Stores Start Moving Upmarket – Wall Street Journal
Some retailers like Rite Aid are reinventing themselves and their interaction with the public. Rite Aid is moving the pharmacy counter upfront to be more about health than general merchandise. But that is by no means all. The drug chain has its sites set on “…Millennial and Gen X women who take care of themselves, their children, aging parents, and even pets.” As Rite Aid put it in its press release:
Rite Aid’s commitment to provide the perfect fusion of traditional medicine and alternative remedies to help people not just get healthy, but get thriving. The brand refresh also includes a new brand identity (logo) that is rolling out across the chain, whole health merchandise, a refreshed digital experience, and its new Store of the Future store prototype currently piloting in select markets.
Supermarkets, on the other hand, are becoming obsessed with fixing the supply chain. Here is how Cara Rosenbloom puts it in her Washington Post article, “Grocery trends: Fewer new products, but more changes in supermarkets and shopping:”
The pandemic has uncovered gaps in distribution, packaging and sales, which have led to an increase in product shortages and stressed consumers. Lempert (food industry analyst and editor at SupermarketGuru.com) is watching companies solve inefficiencies by cutting back on the number of products they sell.
As Rosenbloom goes on to tell it: “Offering a smaller selection of items can reduce consumer confusion, boost sales, and trim time and expense for shoppers.”
And then there are the mass merchandisers who are doubling down on the bricks and mortar market through expansion. Walmart, Dollar General, and 7 Eleven are all engaged in building new stores, while Circle K and Staples are take the acquisition route.
Bricks and mortar retailing is not going anywhere. It’s just going to look different.