Dietitians can Help Stores Liven Up the Center Aisles
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
When it comes to creating in-store excitement, most retailers have tended to focus on the perimeter of the store in departments like fresh foods or produce. And while many retailers may not be ready to completely overhaul center store, some grocers are testing out new designs and merchandising displays to break down barriers with fresh departments, create destination areas and provide shopper solutions. Retail Dietitians have the skills and knowledge to offer ideas that can help drive sales and consumer engagement in center aisles. Here are four ways to think about how you could add value.
Add Interesting Interruptions - Instead of long aisles that are piled high with products, think about how some of the aisles could be enhanced with interesting stopping points. For example, Hy-Vee’s new flagship store in Grimes, Iowa, has installed TV screens in the middle of some center aisles, and in others they have added store-branded cooler displays featuring fresh or frozen items. TV monitors would be a great way for retail RDNs to bring brief recipe videos, meal planning suggestions or nutrition tips to the point of purchase, and providing nourishing, seasonal refrigerated displays would be welcome to shoppers – think about wintertime soups, fresh salads in summer or nourishing lunch box options for back-to-school.
Create Destinations – From pet departments to candy shops and baby needs, stores are carving out destination areas in the center of the store to add excitement and create convenient shopping destinations. Consider how health and wellness opportunities could fit into this scenario. Ideas could include a healthy snacking area, plant-forward options, or other specific dietary lifestyle needs. There are many opportunities to help reorganize departments around different consumer wellbeing needs.
Provide Digital Touchpoints – Amazon Fresh stores feature digital kiosks where customers can ask AI assistant Alexa for help while other stores offer digital help to answer questions on supplements and CBD products. These digital touchpoints provide an opportunity for retailers to introduce technology in their center aisles to add a layer of customer service and shopping efficiency. Think about the areas of your store where customers have frequent nutrition or product usage questions and would like more information. Digital touchpoints can drive traffic to certain aisles and drive sales by providing timely responses.
Offer Shortcut Meal Ideas – The ongoing pandemic has left most shoppers in need of meal inspiration and at the same time they want to reduce the time they spend in stores. Providing meal solution displays, can provide shopping “shortcuts” that solve both of these issues. Bringing fresh and grocery departments together can be a challenge but use your expertise to bring management on board. Provide a plan for execution with simple meal ideas along with ways to drive total store stores by combining a variety of products along with cooking utensils and/or small appliances. Add in cooking demonstrations and meal planning tips during busy shopping times to increase awareness and sales.