The normal grocery-shopping routine is pretty hurried. Armed with your shopping list, you grab a shopping cart, and try to get in and out as quickly as possible. You’re just out to get what you need and then go home, right?
Many supermarkets across the world, both popular chains and local shops, realize this, and they are constantly evolving to create stores where people actually want to linger. That creates a better shopping experience, which is good for business and good for customers.
Here are 14 trends that are becoming staples in the interior design and architecture of the world’s best supermarkets.
Making More Relaxing and Sociable Spaces
Gary McCartney, the founder of Australian firm McCartney Design, predicts that most supermarkets will strive to become a place to build and strengthen social connections. There are already grocery stores in Paris where you can sip wine, warm food (because Parisian kitchens can be tiny) and catch up with friends over a drink.
Notably in the US, mega retailer Target is looking to open a Chicago location where customers can sip cocktails on site while they shop.
Expect these cafe/supermarket hybrids to only keep growing.
Designing Supermarkets That Blend into the Neighborhood
Timothy H. Watkins and David A. Lewis at Goulston & Storrs believe urban grocery stores in Washington, D.C., will have better parking around the back of the store “so that the building becomes an inviting and integrated part of the neighborhood landscape.” They also believe that supermarkets will be constructed to extend right to the street for easier loading and better parking for shoppers.
Creating 3D Design Models of Spaces
Lori Quick, Director of Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc.‘s Design & Décor Source Group spoke to Progressive Grocer about the importance of 3D design in areas like décor manufacturing, lighting, interior design and more. She has used 3D modeling software, lighting test labs and a design resource library to expand decor options.
The lighting tests determine whether bright, fluorescent lights or soft mood lighting make you want to buy food, while the design library resource can test out the stability and attractiveness of potential building materials. These 3D previews are the fastest way to visualize a store in advance, so Quick knows her stores will look good before they’re built.
Shrinking Store Sizes
Mark Dunson at Chain Store Age found that most grocery stores today average 46,000 square feet, and they’ve been shrinking in size consistently since 2006. “To remain competitive, many retailers are exploring new, smaller store formats with a wider variety of fresh and prepared food offerings,” Dunson writes. “…Consumer demand for shopping experiences that offer convenience and fresh foods are driving industry changes. Supermarkets are adapting their stores and offerings as customer preferences change.”
Embracing an Open Market Look
Design and architecture magazine Dezeen spotlighted a grocery store in China called Lotus Fresh. Designed like an open market, the supermarket “is further enhanced by open ceilings and a set of store graphics that incorporate clear hand-scripted fonts in Chinese and English.” Lotus Fresh, which has 70 locations in China, rebranded to attract customers in big cities like Shanghai and the Pudong area.
That store’s designer, HEAD Architecture, later was awarded the title of Most Influential Design Agency in Greater China.
Opening Digital Concept Stores
Retail design company ISI Global wrote about United Kingdom supermarket chain Argos, which opened its own futuristic-looking digital concept store. These shops feature stations of tablet computers, so customers don’t physically have to walk around the store to browse. Having that smart interface also lets customers set a budget and pay ahead of time. Then, their purchases are delivered to the storefront, and the customer can pick those up and be on their way. Of course, if you want to interact with people, staff are on hand to help.
“The digital retail design concepts will offer the most popular products for immediate pick-up while a further 20,000 products will be available to collect from the store within a few hours,” ISI Global explains.
Offering Freshly Made Food on the Spot
Carolyn Robertson, a writer for the Grocer, posted a piece about UK supermarket Waitrose, which has several stores with sushi that’s made fresh while you shop. The addition of the sushi bar has been a major success, according to Waitrose’s head of development, who told Robertson that “sales are well ahead of our high expectations.” Those early results were enough for the grocery store to install sushi bars in its other locations.
Going All-In On Sustainable Design
Retail Design World writers highlighted an Amsterdam grocery store called Marqt, which has used recycled and reclaimed items (more than 75 percent of the store is made of them) for all elements of the supermarket’s design. Whether it’s furniture, lighting fixtures or large refrigerators, these items are all given new life. Standard Studio, an architecture firm, designed the environmentally friendly space, which also has its own greenhouse.
And Making Them Waste-Free, Too
“Instead of buying pre-packed plastic wrapped food and groceries, shoppers to this store will be encouraged to bring their own containers and buy in bulk from ‘gravity bins’ which dispense products at the pull of a lever. For customers who have forgotten to bring their container or who have popped in on the spur of the moment, reusable containers can be borrowed from the store.”
The gravity bins Barber refers to function like Rosseto’s BULKshop Gondola System. These dispensers give stores the option to go bulk — allowing customers to pour out portions of coffees, teas, candies, cereals, snacks and other foods without having to rely on any kind of packing materials that would later be discarded — with a system that can be assembled in just 30 minutes and moved around as necessary.
Going Green, Literally
NL Architects, a firm in Amsterdam, transformed a unique building in Sanya, China, into a supermarket complete with its own green oasis. As Sammy Medina at Fast Company writes: “The original brief called for a simple shopping structure on a triangular plot adjacent to a row of residential slabs. What could have been a banal box with an ‘unattractive interface’ was morphed into a glassy addition with a lushly planted roofscape.”
Shedding Corporate Identity in Favor of Cultural, Local Identity
Mindful Design Consulting shed some light on a grocery store in Vienna known as the Hoher Markt. Although “there are strict regulations aimed at preserving the peculiarity of the city” that limited design options, even supermarkets in other cities across the country can benefit from an attractive space that embraces the local identity, blending into nearby buildings with its interior and exterior design.
A Supermarket Just for Kids
When it comes to grocery store marketing, kids aren’t exactly a target audience. However, Central Kid’s World supermarket in Moscow is making an effort to appeal just to children.
As agency JosDeVries elaborates, the supermarket portion is new, but the store has actually existed since 1957, when it was built as a Soviet-era spot where parents could buy anything their kids might need — toys, clothes, etc. It was rebranded to “keep architecture and several icons (clocks, recreation zone, decoration, special ice cream, fairytale atmosphere) …but add modern technologies, functionality and famous brands.”
Eye-Catching Designs That Elevate a Whole Shopping Experience
LAB5 designed an amazing wine market in its Spar supermarket in Budapest. With tall walls and a domed ceiling, this cave-like interior is made of wood slats with spotlights beaming down from the ceiling. The slats are also used as shelves to display the wine.
Check this article in Dezeen to see all the photos. It’s definitely worth a look.
Adding Pop-up Kitchens
Want to draw attention to your store? A pop-up kitchen that ties into a promotion is an ideal way to do so. Laura McQuarrie has a piece at TrendHunter on supermarket Longos in Canada, which set up an in-store creperie to promote Nutella. These delicious delights were so beloved that other Longos shops in the area received their own pop-up kitchens for a limited time.