5 ways grocery and C-stores can boost profit through foodservice
The idea of “Grocerants” is nothing new. In fact, Progressive Grocer has an entire section of its website devoted to the trend. And grocery stores and convenience stores who have jumped on board – adding more prepared foods and sit-down dining areas – are reaping the benefits. According to Technomic, the “retail meal solutions” market was $24.8 billion in 2007, and a whopping $34.6 billion in 2013.
Experts say millennials – who want convenience, but also demand unique, quality dining experiences – are a huge driving force. And when it comes to C-stores, regular shoppers are demonstrating a shift in behavior: a report from Q1 Productions Consulting says that traditional convenience store customers are seeking healthier food options than ever before.
But fresh-prepared, healthy grab-and-go options and more appealing dining areas are sometimes easier said than done. Space constraints, labor considerations and more can present challenges. And equipment and supplies are a big piece of the puzzle. Here are some tips to maximize Grocerant success:
- Invest in labor-saving equipment. When it comes to upping a store’s culinary status, there’s no getting around hiring professional, knowledgeable chefs. Still, there are ways to save on labor costs that rise in tandem with boosted foodservice operations. Cook-chill equipment, volume steamers and combi-ovens, for example, make cooking large batches quicker and easier, while also helping to maintain consistency.
- Up your grab-and-go game. Grocery and C-store shoppers love the convenience of grab-and-go options. But food items have to compete with fast-casual competitors – and that means gourmet sandwiches, healthy packaged options and serious salad bars, to name a few. Grocers and C-stores should carefully determine placement of grab-and-go displays – to ensure they aren’t detracting from fresh-prepared sales and that equipment works optimally. Air-curtain coolers, for instance, must be a certain distance from sunny windows, doors and HVAC units that can interfere with performance.
- The old staples won’t cut it. Rotisserie chicken may always be a winning fresh-prepared option for grocers, but more and more customers are demanding new and exciting flavors and preparations. Successful grocerants now offer everything from authentic BBQ and made-to-order panini to sushi and gourmet cheese and charcuterie plates. Oftentimes, these offerings not only require specialty equipment, but presentation to match, which brings us to our next point …
- Presentation is crucial. These days, consumers expect ever-more impressive experiences – and grocery and convenience stores are not immune. Achieving grocerant success depends on evolving the in-store experience so customers linger and relax. Oftentimes, this calls for updated equipment and supplies:
- Upgraded food displays – higher-end presentations of prepared salads in the deli case, for example
- Higher-end servingware – special concepts (in-store sushi bars, for example) call for non-traditional supplies; elegant wine and pint glasses at an in-store bar are another nice touch
- Aesthetically appealing specialty equipment – a grill or wood-fired pizza ovens in full view of shoppers, for instance, can add to the ambiance
- Shoppers want to indulge and imbibe. Many grocerants serve beer, wine and even specialty cocktails – much to shopper’s delight. In fact, consumers have no qualms about sipping a craft beer or cabernet in the midst of their mid-week shopping trip. Answering to this trend requires up-to-snuff barware and equipment.