Shopping With Steve ... at Mariano's
The discussion rages on in the industry about the future of supermarket retailers and how they balance the goal of making their stores a destination against traditional supply chain efficiencies. When retailers start moving down the path of making their perimeters a destination, they face significant challenges of increased labor costs and shrink.
Two of the leaders in experiential shopping have been Wegmans and Mariano's, a Chicago-based unit of Kroger. I had the pleasure in early November of doing a store tour of the latest Mariano's opening in Bannockburn, Illinois.
I'm quite familiar with the format, which has evolved nicely over the last several years, and I am always energized by the experience of visiting a Mariano's store. The perimeter, as always, is spectacular. Highlights include the produce section and the variety of prepared food stations. I made my trip in the late afternoon and my first stop was the wine bar. It was my first store tour done with a glass of wine in my hand.
Additionally, I'm always struck by the impressive lighted shelving in the HBC section. And who couldn't be in a good mood standing in the middle of the store's floral section?
I do have one concern, which is that traffic seemed a bit light for a Wednesday afternoon. Destination experiences need tons of customers to be profitable. Kroger will need to focus on getting more people in stores if it wants to really reinvigorate this shopping experience.