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Game Changers: The Way We Shop

Kroger Delivery FL

As a produce industry observer, I’m always on the lookout for innovation.

And, as the North American fresh produce industry prepares to gather for its largest conference and trade show since 2019, all eyes are on the International Fresh Produce Association’s BB #:378962 Global Produce and Floral Show in Orlando next month.

Let’s take a look back at several of the most influential ideas, the gamechangers as we’ll call them, that revolutionized the way we do business, and how these disruptors evolved into the innovations we see and enjoy today.

The Big Idea: Changing the Way We Shop
How it changed the game: It’s hard to pin down the change from sterile, utilitarian supermarkets to the shopping adventures crafted by retailers today, but Tristan Simpson of Tristan Michele Marketing BB #:366330, says it was a noticeable change, and it truly did change the way people shop.

From stale to wow
“You almost have to go back and remember what it was like,” she says. “It was very stale.”

Then specialty retailers started bringing in new types of displays inspired by farmers markets, and smaller island displays started showing up.

“They were the ones that reminded us it was the fixtures and lighting that inspired us,” she explains, noting retailers were willing to be more creative and started to “embrace an elevated produce department.”

It was an investment, but the retailers who did reaped the benefits.

“It was a gamechanger because it was a huge change, a big shift, because to really change the game is to change what you’re doing,” she posits.

“You’re not changing just what you’re playing, you’re changing the whole board and the way things work,” Simpson stresses. “That’s pretty significant.”

Next steps in fulfillment
The next evolution of retail store design is taking us into micro-fulfillment centers and making the online shopping and fulfillment experience seamless.

The H-E-B store in Leander, TX, recently renovated its former Backyard outdoor facility into a micro-fulfillment center. Leander, a far north Austin suburb, couldn’t get grocery delivery in much of the town prior to the pandemic.

“More consumers are becoming adaptable to having fresh product delivered to their door,” says Simpson. “People really were worried about ‘who’s going to pick my bananas?’ There was a lot of hesitancy.”

That hesitancy seems to be gone now, as retailers are proving they can pick, pack, and deliver orders both quickly and efficiently.

This is an excerpt from the cover story in the September/October 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.


Pamela Riemenschneider is Retail Editor for Blue Book Services