Extreme customer focus: let them design your stores
A new custom built, customer-focused supermarket has been built in Manchester (UK). Sainsbury's asked 20 shoppers of different ages and lifestyles to draw their ideal store and, seven months later, their designs have been made reality in the form of a 40,000 square foot supermarket.
The new store offers seven different ways of shopping, from personal shoppers to a Sainsbury's to You 'bring to your car' service, and even a vending machine with fresh goods so customers can still buy milk when the store is closed.
The mission Gill Hurran, a member of the panel of customers, explained, "We told Sainsbury's that, depending on mood and circumstances, we want to do one of three things: to get in and out quickly, to browse and be inspired, or to make shopping fun for us and our kids." From this came four specific missions which the group identified:
- Busy professional people need to get in and out quickly but be inspired at the same time.
- Wives need their husbands to go to the supermarket with them but the husbands prefer to watch football on a Saturday.
- People agreed that they don't want to stand in queues when they shop.
- Mothers with young children want to make shopping a more pleasant experience, and enjoyable for all involved.
The solutions The panel were asked to think about how those goals could be accomplished in an ideal situation, and the resulting ideas formed the basis for the new store. The key ideas were:
- Introduce personal shoppers - so that customers can sit and relax with a coffee or take the children to the play area while someone else does all the hard work for them.
- An easy checkout service - so that customers can take the weight off their feet while a member of staff processes and packs their shopping at the checkout.
- The Kid's Zone play area - where parents and their children can explore three fun and educational exhibits designed by the London Science Museum.
- Monitored priority parking spaces - so that parents with young children, and the disabled, can be met and assisted quickly.
- Pick-up goods ordered online - to give internet customers the option to pick up their shopping at a pre-arranged time instead of having to wait at home for a two hour slot. This is done using a designated pick-up point located in the store's car park where customers' shopping will be loaded into their car for them (without them even leaving the car).
- A separate convenience store - a dedicated 'Quick Shop' (with its own entrance), carrying a convenience-style range of products from the main store, allows busy customers to get in and out quickly. The mini-store has its own express parking area where an electronic monitoring system counts down 20 minutes from when the driver pulls into the space.
- An internet cafe - including a 'chill out' area where customers can relax with a coffee and check their e-mail, or catch up on the football scores. This hopes to solve the age-old problem of husbands and boyfriends who prefer to stay at home on Saturdays.
Hurran added, "It was great fun to create a store from a blank canvas, and to see our ideas put into practice is really exciting." And Diana Hunter, Sainsbury's future stores manager, agrees, "We were impressed with the ideas the group put forward, and they really gave us something to get our teeth into. We are absolutely delighted with the new store."
This reporter now wishes he lived in Manchester.