Fresh Takes from FMI: Keeping Grocery Cool

The 2018 Food Marketing Institute‘s Energy and Store Development conference, one of the largest grocery conferences in the country, wrapped up last week in Atlanta, but not before providing our grocery practice leaders with new insights on the industry’s latest trends.

Below are five of the main takeaways we believe will have the most significant impact on the industry looking forward.

The Shopper Experience

Undoubtedly, the way consumers purchase and obtain their products is evolving. Contrary to what many are saying, the brick-and-mortar shopping experience is not going away — bad shopping experiences are. Consumers are changing their behaviors and shopping habits to require a more personalized, accessible, and intuitive store experience. We believe this will be a unique challenge as we continue to design grocery environments in the future.

Convenience is Key

A core component of customers’ evolving preferences is convenience. Innovative solutions like in-store pickup and on-demand delivery are becoming common staples for most grocers. Retailers are becoming more adaptive and responsive to meet the needs of a growing customer base that craves flexibility. Retailers need to be within reach of the customer, whenever and wherever they may be, including in-store, online, or on mobile devices. Long gone are the days where the only method of grocery shopping is pushing a cart with a checklist in hand.

The Future Is In Technology

Considered by many to be the 4th Industrial Revolution, artificial intelligence is already playing a major role in monitoring customer behaviors and shopping habits. But, retailers are taking this emerging technology to the next level  — applying it to create labor efficiencies like inventory management or providing basic product information. Don’t worry, though, robots aren’t taking over any time soon. These technology applications are meant to free up the time of associates in stores to provide a more quality experience for shoppers.

Bringing New Life To Repurposed Stores

Another growing trend in the grocery industry is utilizing existing retail space in lieu of new, ground-up construction. According to CNBC, more than 100 million square feet of retail space shuttered in 2017. That number is expected to be surpassed for 2018. The key advantage of repurposing these existing buildings is that they’re often in desirable locations, which can reduce construction time and overall cost. One major caveat to consider is that many of these buildings are not fitted with the proper utilities or equipment to serve the demands of a grocery store. That’s when it becomes necessary to involve the design team early to utilize their expertise and help avoid any potential challenges.

Regulations Rule The Day

It’s no surprise that the Federal EPA is driving the industry. As final regulation rulings remain unclear, the refrigeration industry, specifically, is trying to position itself for the changes to come. Retailers are using best practices with existing stores in regards to leak detection and refrigerant conversions. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is implementing their own set of regulations that could trickle down to other states.

What’s abundantly clear is the grocery industry is undergoing a significant transformation. We’re beginning to see it position itself to accommodate patrons beyond the walls of physical stores and utilize technology to improve service within them. By understanding the needs of this evolving industry, Henderson can continue to provide designs and expertise that help our clients achieve their goals.

To learn more about our grocery work, click here.

Written By
Tony Welter

Grocery & Distribution Sector Executive | Principal


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