This weekend I went shopping at the new Kroger Marketplace. Side note… if only Kroger thought investing in their online presence was as important as their retail presence. I digress. The new marketplace was built across the street from the previous Kroger. One step inside and you can see why.
A bakery with fresh Artisan bread, a deli with a dedicated gourmet cheese counter, a Starbucks, a sushi counter, and one-stop shopping for babies, toys, bedroom, bathroom, jewelers, and kitchen. It even had a cafeteria and holiday section. This mammoth store has it all. Or does it?
As I was walking through the store looking for laundry detergent, I did notice some efficiencies. One key is that the section directly in front of the check-outs is like a store within a store. Need to pick up some milk and fresh vegetables (even locally grown)? You can get in and out in a few minutes. My trip took a couple hours as I perused every corner of the store.
To find the laundry detergent, I had to look up at a sign that pointed me to aisle 48. I made my way back to that corner of the store, picked up my Tide, and walked the circumference… where all the healthy, fresh stuff is. I grabbed a Starbucks, took a break, and then checked out.
The in-store experience had two-thirds of the way to being perfect. This infographic from Moki is based on Forrester's The Future of the Digital Store. It points the way to what three keys there are to an exceptional modern in-store experience:
- Contextual – I thought the new sections were perfect. There's a Wal-mart on the other side of the intersection, but by being a grocery store with other amenities, the Kroger offered a much more thorough selection for the family. The fact that I could pick up a new ribbon candle, a high-end bourbon, or a frying pan shows that Kroger understands its customers.
- Relevant – The seasonal and convenience sections are fantastic. I used to avoid going to the old Kroger to pick up coffee creamer because it required a trip across the entire store for a single purchase. I'd go to the local convenience store instead. Now I can go to Kroger and pick up some fresh veggies, too!
- Personalized – This is where there's an opportunity for Kroger to increase their in-store experience. If they only had near-field communications embedded in their mobile application, perhaps some in-store beacons, and some dynamic displays instead of old-school aisle tables, I could be less frustrated with all the real estate to cover. And, if my Plus Card is registered, they could even make me some offers while I'm moving through the store.
The great thing is that the store doesn't need to be redesigned – it's an epic store. Personally, I'd love to see some comfortable chairs and couches sprinkled throughout the store. The more people hang out – the more they think about what they need to buy. I stopped at Starbucks and then went and picked up another dozen or so items.
Kroger may benefit by stepping up the technology used within it. As I checked out, the woman behind me gasped that I had a little cart that totaled quite a sum of money. She didn't see the Mahi, Woodford Reserve, and Sandalwood ribbon candle I purchased. I probably spent twice as much as I expected to.
I can only imagine what I would have spent if my trip was personalized!