Category Archives: General

Merchandising Success in a Format-Flexible World

Store sizes are changing, remodeling activity is on the rise and selling space is under pressure from alternative uses.  This is the format-flexible world in which merchants must make optimal assortment decisions to satisfy shoppers and grow sales. Doing so requires understanding where store design is headed, the impact on selling space and how assortment optimization enables new opportunities.

Improve your understanding of these new dynamics by joining Steven Duffy, SVP of Design with the acclaimed architectural, engineering and design innovation firm Cuhaci Peterson, and Todd McCourtie, VP of Product Management Assortment and Space Planning, at SymphonyAI Retail CPG, for a revealing look at:

  • Hot store design trends, remodeling innovation and what’s next for small formats.​
  • How assortment optimization enables design flexibility and productivity improvement. ​
  • The role of advanced technologies in understanding new item incrementality, transferable demand and store clustering opportunities.​
  • Practical examples of how AI improves the speed and accuracy of merchants’ optimization efforts.

To download the on-demand recording, please click here.

FMI Midwinter Conference – 9 Things We Learned

Grocery executives once again convened to share their common goals and advocacy issues and consider the year ahead at the 2023 FMI – The Food Industry Association Midwinter Executive Conference. Here are nine highlights that stood out from the three-day event.

Doug Baker of FMI kicked off the education agenda for two days of “FMItech talks” by assembling a cross-section of tech-centric grocers and the entrepreneur’s driving innovation. The question posed after reflecting upon the closing keynote presentation titled, The Never Normal by Peter Hinssen, are the innovation efforts that grocers pursue today sufficient to keep them from falling victim to becoming either a dinosaur or a phoenix?

The FMItech Pitch Competition 

This brought forth six finalists – One that piqued our interest was Amoobi’s Chief Executive Officer, Olivier Delangre. This firm has developed a space optimization platform for in-store merchandising and planning. The platform provides many applications to evaluate and analyze customer behaviors, consider merchandising planning, and drive traffic and sales. The applications are data-driven and leverage store-mounted sensors to track customer behaviors.

FMItech Talk – A Fresh Approach to Driving True Digital Transformation

Suzanne Long, Chief Sustainability and Transformation Officer, Albertsons, and Matt Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer, Afresh considered different aspects surrounding fresh products, sustainably, and reducing food waste shrink to enhance consumer experience and grocers’ profitability. Fresh shrink has a considerable impact on store profitability. This application platform can track the flow of a product’s lifecycle through the supply chain. For example, an extra day or two extending a perishable product’s life significantly impacts consumption vs. entering the waste stream. Albertsons has targeted this as a priority.

FMItech Talks – Looking Backward While Moving Forward: Technology Practitioner Panel

This event addressed recent FMI technology research presented by Steve Markenson. The panel consisted of Kirk Ball, Executive Vice President, and Chief Information Officer, Giant Eagle; Charles McWeeney, Vice President of Technology, Innovation, and Strategy, Wakefern and Annette Franke, Vice President of Information Technology, Gorilla Glue. Discussions include how 70-80 percent of grocers are experimenting with improving efficiencies, consumer experience, and e-commerce tools, and now 60 percent with self-checkout. Also, how does automation improve the associate and consumer experience? All panelists agreed that labor is the single biggest challenge. When implementing technology, the value must be shown along its journey. Microfulfillment is considered an option in the tool chest as grocers grapple with the increasing demands of delivering upon customer need states.

Grocery Resiliency During Recession – Deborah Weinswig, Coresight Research

Deborah Weinswig delivered helpful research and a hopeful outlook for 2023, despite the most challenging headwinds experienced in decades. Coresight Research reviewed what worked in the last two recessions and the recessionary behaviors of consumers and retailers. Weinswig shared six actions for retailers to take now. Check out Coresight Research to review the extensive research they make publicly available.

Where Food and Technology Meet – Laurie Demeritt, Chief Executive Officer, The Hartman Group

This session was geared toward food geeks. And who does not love to learn more about what we eat and how it’s sourced? The Hartman Group delivered great insights into the industry and FMI. Laurie Demeritt shared some valuable data segmenting the 11 categories defining the future of food production. The higher degree of food innovation/reinvention and manipulation aligns with consumer skepticism. We recommend that you follow The Hartman Group research.

To read the rest of the recap, please go here.

These Design Categories Are Shaping Grocery

These Design Categories Are Shaping Grocery

It’s safe to say that we’re living through an economic inflection point that affects our daily lives. Food and other current trends are influencing the future of grocery for the next three, five and even 10 years. Understanding these trends as “breadcrumbs” that influence food and grocery design will help in understanding how they shape the future and prepare us for change.

In the book “Trend Sociology v. 2.0” by Louise Byg Kongsholm, the author notes that change itself is at the heart of trends, and she reminds us that everyone fundamentally feels that change is good, even if it doesn’t affect them.

[Read more: “What Is the Biggest Growth Opportunity for Grocery Leaders?“]

Kongsholm explores the significance of six trend types that we’ll apply to grocery:

  1. Types of society, which last for centuries.
  2. Paradigms, which guide personal beliefs that last for decades.
  3. Gigatrends, which are long trends that affect us for 10 to 30 years, radically changing our way of life and conditions. These trends also often have a global effect and usually contain elements of economy, politics and technology.
  4. Megatrends, which are those medium-length trends lasting three to seven years, and are characterized by spirit, lifestyle and consumption.
  5. Microtrends, which last six months to three years.
  6. Fads, which have a longer shelf life by comparison.

Regardless of its timeframe, each trend has three affluential parts: society and culture, consumer trends/behaviors, and the industry’s response to delivering new products or services. Consider these when looking at trends, and you’ll notice a path forward becomes more apparent and a bit more demystified.

To read more, click here.

Checkout Challenge: Shrink Reduction With No Customer Impact | FutureShop

Checkout Challenge: Shrink Reduction With No Customer Impact

An array of innovative security solutions is paving the way for reducing the incredible shrinking grocery story in a way that has its finger on the pulse of current and future trends, making grocers and retailers alike happy. When considering these security measures, we must do so holistically, with the store design in mind, realizing that it is a cost, a burden, and can cause friction on the shopping experience, but also poses a way out and a way forward.

Shrink reduction in grocery and retail stores has usually been influenced by consumers, and a myriad of factors, among them product type, inventory count, store location and other factors. While loss prevention strategies have helped in the past, the current widely held view is that they’re trending negatively, especially when you factor in frictionless shopping and checkout.

Frictionless checkout, another alternative to store-based surveillance, is the ultimate surveillance state without feeling like cameras are watching your every move. If you’ve visited an Amazon Go store (and others), you have seen this in place, including their “just walk out” technology which is exactly as it sounds. You shop, scan your own items, pay with an app and away you go. But this also comes with risk and that can lead to negative variables like skewed inventory count, theft and more.

Next, factor in facial recognition, which has made significant advancements worldwide, thanks to artificial intelligence and camera networks, but with this innovation comes consumer concerns regarding privacy and what data is being shared through a facial scan.

Steven Duffy, our senior vice president of design, offers four things grocers can do to address the incredible shrinking store.

Transformation Paradoxes graphic

Periodical Highlights Future of Retail

Our Senior Vice President of Design, Steven Duffy, was recently a featured author discussing the future of retail in the October 2021 issue of Retail and Restaurant Facility Business. The article is available in the print and online editions.

In the article, Duffy revealed four ways technology can transform stores by 2030. The following is a quick excerpt from the article:

The future of retail changed forever as the pandemic exposed the inadequacies of eGrocery. Consumers seek convenience at a fair price, and they want a frictionless experience. Grocers and retailers must adapt, and quickly. Retail and grocery formats and their supporting technologies have remained static for decades, unable to respond to shoppers demands, new technologies, and have failed to meet today’s consumer’s shifting paradigm.

Retail of the Future is at an Inflection Point Today

During a recent speaking engagement at the Category Management Association annual conference, we provided clarity on the four future retail themes or paradoxes. Theses are driving the change in how and why we shop and are the connective tissue, the infrastructure behind the transformation of future grocery retailing.

1.) Physical to Virtual: The merging of physical to digital, often called phygital, is how we buy today.

2.) Small is Big: Smaller format is more attractive with technology and convenience playing a part.

3.) Blurring Formats: Retail stores are decreasing in size as restaurant and C-store formats hybridize to include grocery.

4.) Simplify Complexity: Make systems easily accessible enabling a more intuitive and frictionless experience.

Let’s unpack each of these elements that form a base for the rapidly transforming, technology-enabled retail and food-based ecosystem. This overview addresses the retail experience, yet broader and more sweeping changes are necessary across the entire environment and logistics network to facilitate changes moving forward.

To read the entire article, please go here: