The challenges surrounding supply chains, rising costs and meeting an ever-growing customer demand from a diverse range of core and premium lines cannot be overstated.
Despite this, there’s an opportunity to engage with consumers and transform the convenience retail experience, and one way of doing so is emphasising free space and a calm environment by moving away from product promotion.
Mital Morar’s General Stores Deansgate in Manchester, which is part of the Store Group, is designed to create a local offering that includes nearby suppliers and food traders and an independent local value chain.
Working to a mantra of ‘I only came in for milk’, the store reimagines what customers expect from a convenience store, to go beyond their everyday needs. General Stores balances the essential and the premium, and caters to both.
The store is flanked by some of the city’s most modern new builds, and its interior is adorned with iconography, messages and LED lighting, designed to help the customer journey, from the entrance to checkout, in a space where they wish to spend time in.
Instead of overstocking the store, one-fifth is devoted to free space, and the only window display is of baked beans, a reminder that it still stocks the essentials.
According to Morar, a store’s design is critical to meeting the needs and demands of its local market, and by making the most of space.
However, this does raise questions over stock, especially fresh produce, and makes managing supply chains more challenging.
Morar says it can be a challenge and the answer will be in what business model a retailer wants to follow.
For General Stores Deansgate, this means prioritising customers’ experiences and accommodating all demands, be they essential needs or organic, artisanal or “aspirational”, and holding true to its mantra.