Inside the future of small format retailing

When Supercart Australia developed its suite of sustainable shopping trolleys and hand baskets it was with the customer experience at the heart of the design. In this interview Technical Director Louw Van Tonder shares his thoughts on small format retailing and what he believes will influence the shopping experience in the future.

1. How can store equipment improve the retail experience in smaller format/convenience stores?

Anything that enables the shopper to have a better experience, including clear and accurate messaging around products within the store.

We’ve seen that the equipment that’s provided in smaller format stores does have a direct effect on sales.

For example, when we introduced a larger volume hand basket the sales within stores increased on average by 15 to 20 per cent by going from a 24-litre hand basket to a 30-litre hand basket.

That is a physical attribute that makes it easier for the consumer to purchase more. If you couple that with a message around an issue like sustainability, which we have done with our hand baskets and trolleys, then it ticks more boxes for the consumer who also cares about such issues.

2. What trends are currently influencing store equipment in smaller format/convenience stores?

Industry data shows that the trend is for more frequent shops. A lot of people are now shopping four to five times per week and in a lot of cases they shop daily, and sometimes even twice a day.

The trend is to pick up something on the way and prepare a fresh meal rather than have a bulk shop. These behaviours influence the equipment we use in the retail space.

3. What should a retailer look for when upgrading store equipment in smaller format/convenience stores?

They should be looking at the message they send to the consumer through the choices of products they make available in their stores, including equipment.

If you can source something locally, and you can source it through a sustainable supplier you are going to be sending great messages to your customers.

Consumers are more savvy now, and it’s important to understand that and create the right environment and right experience for them in-store.

4. How can your business help a retailer?

When we say source locally, Supercart is an excellent example. We create our products right here in Melbourne, and we are using recycled materials. Our approach saves plastic bottles from the oceans and landfill, and we’re very proud that people are getting behind our push for sustainability.

Our trolleys and hand baskets support the retailer in a number of different ways: we help improve the customer experience with trolleys that are very easy to use as well as being strong and durable, with longer life spans than traditional steel trolleys. Business owners benefit from larger volume hand baskets increasing sales, and they’ll also benefit from the sustainability message we promote. Our products create a positive experience for both the business and the consumer.

If you can make a trolley or hand basket light but large volume you will increase the sales per shop because data shows customers will often keep purchasing, even on impulse, when they have a larger volume trolley or hand basket they are using.

5. What are your predictions for the future of store equipment in smaller format/convenience stores?

The trends suggest stores will continue to develop to create a seamless experience for the consumer, making it easier for them to get in and out of stores and using their time efficiently.

The experience can be improved at the check-out, or even through electronic tagging of products that tags the price as it comes off the shelf rather than at a specific point like a traditional check out. Anything that improves the flow from entering the store to exiting the store will be an advantage, and there’s already a lot of innovation happening in that space.

People do not want to stand in a queue and pay, they need a more seamless experience. Our products will facilitate those technologies when they become available. We see that innovation as very important.

Some of the bigger retailers are already experimenting with this type of technology, and the feedback shows customers definitely want more control in their shopping experience. Waiting to be served or to reach a self-check-out is a gap that can be improved in the shopping experience.