There are massive changes coming to hundreds of Australian supermarkets – and it could end up making the grocery giants sweat.
Most Aussies have probably felt the frustration of heading to their local supermarket – only to discover the item they’re desperately after is nowhere to be found.
But now, a groundbreaking new offering aims to solve that problem for once and for all.
Enter IGA’s Local Grocer – the biggest retail brand rollout in the country – which is allowing customers to actually decide what’s in stores.
Using data, technology and old school customer interaction to create a bespoke offering for locals, no two Local Grocers will be the same, and each of the 400 stores set to open within months will cater to the specific wants and needs of their community.
IGA’s flagship Local Grocer store has just opened in Epping in Sydney’s northwest, and the concept is already a hit with local shoppers.
Run by brothers Antoine and Richard Rizk under the Mint Fresh banner, the Epping store is the pair’s fifth after working in the sector for more than a decade.
Antoine told news.com.au it was designed so that “locals can get pretty much everything they need in one place”, and he said they had even chosen not to install self-service checkouts “so that we can truly get to know our local shoppers”.
He explained they had used an app and focus group to get feedback about the types of products customers wanted to see in store before the launch.
“There’s a lot of customisation for the local Asian community, and we have quite a big range in the grocery, dairy, freezer and fruit and vegetable aisles,” he said.
“Being locals within the geographical area, we spoke to a lot of people and looked at a lot of competitors, and we also used an app … to recruit customers for a focus group.
“The survey provided us with a bunch of feedback about how frequently they cook and what kinds of products they require.
“The feedback led to supplies we’ve never had before and we locally sourced a lot of products we wouldn’t usually stock – there’s three doors in the freezer section with products that can be steamed like dumplings and pork buns, and a whole door of Asian desserts and different flavours like green tea and sesame.”
He said new items were already regularly being added at the request of customers, even though the store had only been open for a few days.
“For example in our liquor department, we had requests for specialty single malt scotches from elderly clients, which we’ve already ranged in, and we had requests for wheat flour too, and that item has already come in and is on the shelf,” he said.
“We ask customers to write down their names, requests and phone numbers and once the product is in, we call them and let them know. We get to know our customers on a first-name basis.”
Mr Rizk said the store included items that would never be found in regular supermarkets.
“We wanted to be able to source things for locals and the success of local supermarkets is based on the input of locals, and that’s where we’re able to interact with the community and really support them,” he said.
“We want to behave like their fresh pantry.
“We’ve had customers come in nearly every day since we opened, and that’s a good sign. Our customisation is a huge point of difference and it gives us a competitive advantage. Having that local knowledge is critical and it’s not just the range, it’s also the flow and layout and space allocated to different product ranges – for example, a lot more of our space is for fresh food because a lot of our customers have smaller houses and smaller fridges.
“And everyone is used to buying your traditional roast chook from the supermarket, but we do things like pork and lamb roasts, pork belly, hot snack packs – all things you can’t get in traditional supermarkets.”
He said that the point of difference offered by his and other Local Grocer stores would “definitely be a challenge” for supermarket giants like Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.
“Whether they could be able to achieve that sort of outcome is another matter, because being individually owned, we’re very agile and able to change and customise to the local demographic, which is not something they might be able to do as they are delivering on a larger scale,” he said.
“For us, our competitive advantage is being agile and able to move and make changes and provide great customer service that’s present on our store’s shelves.”
Mr Rizk said he also wanted to bust the myth that IGAs were more expensive, pointing out that the chain had a price match program as well as regular bargains advertised through its catalogues.
Danielle Jenkinson, the general manager of retail for Metcash, IGA’s parent company, said the new stores were run by locals who understood the needs of their customers.
“Shopper research and insights have been used to inform the new format IGA Local Grocer via surveys undertaken with 5000 households and data analysed from over 2.8 million Australian shopping trips,” she said.
“These insights, along with the additional data that Antoine and Richard have gathered from their local Epping community, have been used to develop this new, highly personalised store.”
Extracted from News.com.au