Instore - June 2018 - 50
What happens with
the center store?
If the fresh perimeter is dominating store design, how should
retailers treat the shrinking, but still necessary center store?
Straightforwardly, says Deborah English with D.L. English Design.
While the square footage might be changing, the overall feel
"Over the years we've messed with things in the center store to try
and make it more interesting, but none of it works. We try to emphasize simplicity and communication," she says. From a grocer's
perspective, once you've set it, don't mess with it. People don't like
their pickles moving from one aisle to the next. They like to be able
to get through that center store quickly. It's completely the opposite on the perimeter. It's counterintuitive, but that's the way it is."
But Lewis Shaye, with Grocerant Design Group, says there are ways
to manipulate the square footage within the center store to create
focal points and drive sales.
"With the center store shrinking, we look at our end caps a lot," he
says. "Generally speaking, they're a point of focus for the grocer to
stand out. They're opportunity points."
As an example, end caps can be made larger, stealing a few more
feet on each end to create a 270-degree display that helps build
levels and focal points. Shaye points out that they don't even need
to be low-price focal points, just items that the store wants to push.
These areas can be animated with sampling activity. "You don't
want to put in tons and tons of non-food items that don't distinguish you from your competitors," Shaye says. "There's nothing
wrong with selling 2-liters of soda, but if you fill it up with something that everybody else has, unless it's on deal, it's not going
to create any differentiation. What I would advocate is thinking
about that strategically. Create something there that creates some
energy and causes some emotion with the guest."
It's also important to consider the color tone of lighting, ranging from bright
daylight to very warm lighting. Different tones will fit different foods.
"All these things matter and they matter big-time. They matter significantly to the overall experience," Shaye says. "Oftentimes I'll walk a
store and I'll see lights out in cases, I'll see people highlighting things
that should absolutely not be highlighted, and in many cases, I see
foods that seem to have been forgotten. They're not showcasing these
beautiful foods. Don't eliminate things that are important."
50 * JUNE 2018 * instore
Building a local connection
There are countless ways to interact with the community during dayto-day operations, but the connection your consumers felt to your
store when they first walk in can be priceless, experts say.
"You have to create a dynamic space that's integrated and holistic, if
you will," English says. "We've got these big brands we work with and
we have to keep their brand identity intact and honor that brand. But
then we have the community that we work with and we try to understand how they tick."
When tasked with designing Whole Foods' first Hawaii locations,
D.L. English began the process with the typical thoughts of sun, sand,
surfing, beaches and how to pull that feeling into the store designs. But
when meeting with the community in the early stages of the design
process, it was quickly clear that wouldn't work.
"We get into a room with the community and they didn't want that at
all," English says. "They were looking for shade and shelter. They have
the sun all day. They're looking to get out of the sun, not walk into a
space that feels like the outside."
So the original plans were scrapped and replaced with the sensibility of
darker, deeper, richer colors that conveyed a sense a shade and shelter.
Knab says that Mehmert's store designs typically begin with community interaction, building a conversation and understanding the
"What might work in the Midwest doesn't always work on the East
Coast or in the Southwest. We try to understand the regional culture
and try to adapt that look and feel of the community into the store,"
he says. "In many parts of Pennsylvania, you'll run into 20 or 32 feet of
sweet tea. You wouldn't see that in the Midwest. Being aware of those
nuances is certainly important."
Shaye points out that the local connection also goes a long way in the
consumer's feeling that the fresh perimeter really is as fresh as possible.
"What people want is that feeling of connectivity to their store. They
want a relationship," he says. "They want it easy, but they also want
to know that they're connecting with their local environment. They
believe that fresh and local are synonymous."
The creation of more local mentions, more local items, anything that
gets the consumer closer to the source, allows the consumer to feel the
connection to the store from entrance to the point of sale.
"Keying into the heart and soul of what the community is looking