3 Retail Innovations That Your Associates AND Customers Will Love

See what it’s like when your store innovations have the power to improve both the customer AND store associate experience.

3 Retail Innovations That Your Associates AND Customers Will Love

Higher retail prices, a tight labor market, and fierce competition are making it crucial for retailers to innovate their stores strategically. One smart way to do that is by choosing innovations that improve both the customer and store associate experience.

Bob Johnson, Sr. Commercial Vice President, Retail Space Solutions, says grocery retailers are urgently looking for innovations to alleviate staff shortage issues. “Ideally, your innovations should help associates be more efficient and, in the process, make their jobs more satisfying.”

And if those innovations also create a better customer experience, that makes them doubly valuable. “A happier shopper not only buys more but will likely keep coming to you rather than the store down the street,” says Johnson.

Let’s take a close look at three store innovations with the dual power to benefit associates and customers.

Pusher Tray Systems

1. Pusher Tray Systems

The customer need for items on the grocery store perimeter has long been considered a crucial factor for getting people deeper into the store and increasing sales. And that need won’t disappear any time soon, even with the rise of online shopping.

Pusher trays help improve the performance of a store’s perimeter. They typically hang either on a grid or bar at the back of a cooler case and play a critical role in keeping perishable items — e.g., cheese, bagged salads, pre-packaged meat — front-faced and conditioned.

But by doing that, pusher trays also serve the kind of double duty that retailers should be looking for in an innovation.

How They Improve the Associate Experience

Minimize manual front-facing. Because pusher trays automatically front-face items as well as keep them in neat rows, they greatly reduce associate labor time.

Minimize manual front-facing.

Retail Space Solutions’ Bob Johnson says, “I’ve had grocery store employees tell me that their front-facing tasks went from 60 to 90 minutes a day down to just a few minutes because of pusher trays.”

Create restocking advantages. With all that time saved, associates can jump right to the critical task of restocking. And the bonus here is just how simple it is for associates to pull the trays out and reload them quickly—saving even more time.

Pusher Trays Save Time

Improve morale. Benefits like the above help your associates feel less rushed in completing their tasks. In turn, they can take more interest in keeping up the orderly, attractive appearance of their departments (which pusher trays help them do). Plus, they may find their jobs more fulfilling because they’re more available to interact with—and serve—customers.

Pusher Trays Improve Customer Experience

How They Improve the Customer Experience

Find items quickly. Pusher trays help create an appealing, well-stocked, and highly visible product presentation, which also makes it easier for shoppers to spot what they’re looking for.

“People are busier today and often want to be in and out of a store as fast as possible. The way pusher trays function can help them do that,” says Johnson. (Be sure to read How Retail Pusher Trays Lower Operating Costs AND Increase Customer Basket Size for related info.)

Access items easily. Thanks to pusher trays’ automatic front-facing capabilities, the products themselves are convenient to access, preventing deep reaches or awkward grabbing.

Check out this helpful demonstration video to see pusher trays in action.

Have more options. The design of pusher trays enables more efficient use of cooler space compared to OEM shelves, and that creates room for more product facings and more product options for customers (as well as a potential boost in sales).

Picking Carts

2. Picking Carts

For your increasingly important click and collect services, picking carts are designed to counter the inefficiencies of store associates picking items using shopping carts. But according to Joe Rother, Director of Sales for Cannon Equipment, they do more than that.

“When picking carts help you do click and collect better than your competition, it creates a positive ripple effect that reaches well beyond reducing labor costs.” Let’s consider how that ripple effect touches your associates and your customers.

How They Improve the Associate Experience

Pick faster. Picking carts enable associates to pick multiple orders at once, helping them complete each order more efficiently. (For more details on click and effect, check out 4 Ways to Increase Click and Collect Efficiency AND Profitability.)

Pick more accurately. With the help of insertable totes, the carts help associates keep orders separate and thereby prevent unintentional order mixing.

Pick with more focus. These carts can hold everything an associate needs while picking. That means fewer pauses and more focused picking.

Maneuver more easily. The light weight and zero-turn radius of the carts help associates move easily through aisles, around shoppers, and in the back room.

Have a better work experience. This innovation helps associates perform better and can generate enthusiasm for continually improving their picking times and error rates.

Click and Collect

How They Improve the Customer Experience

Pick up orders sooner. Faster picking can lead to orders available sooner for pickup, an important factor considering the rising demand for faster turnaround times.

Have fewer order problems. When you factor in the reduced error rate, you’re not only helping to retain satisfied customers—you’re making it more likely they’ll sing your praises to others.

Enjoy more available associates. The time and labor saved can allow you to have more associates on the floor restocking shelves and being available to serve in-store customers.

Bulk Food Dispensers

3. High-Quality Bulk Food Dispensers

More and more shoppers place a priority on being better stewards of the environment. Consider a recent customer survey on grocery store sustainability conducted by Kroger analytics subsidiary 84.51°, which revealed the highest response rates with the following:

  • Consumers concerned with limiting food waste (45%)
  • Consumers seeking reusable packaging (34%)
  • Consumers concerned with overall sustainability when shopping (29%)
  • Consumers focused on reducing plastic purchases (29%)

Bulk food sections with exceptionally performing bulk food dispensers can be an effective way to attract and retain green-minded customers AND employees.

How They Improve the Associate Experience

Feel confident and motivated. When your associates have clear, dishwashable bulk bins that are also haze-, scratch-, and stain-resistant, you’re giving them the best equipment to work with.

Enjoy a more meaningful job. Green-minded associates in particular can feel proud about maintaining an exceptional bulk foods section.

Play a key role in store success. Associates can take pride in maintaining a bountiful, alluring store section, which also leads to more sales.

Thanks to the latest technology, today’s bulk bins can easily dispense hard-to-flow foods like dried fruit. They also provide more hygienic ways for dispensing. In this video, see the latest bin innovation, the Maximizer, from Trade Fixtures, a global leader in bulk-dispensing, gravity, and scoop bins.

How They Improve the Customer Experience

Reduce package waste. Customers can replenish items in reusable containers or, at the very least, buy food using considerably less packaging (such as recyclable paper bags).

Bulk Bins Improve the Customer Experience

Buy in self-selecting quantities. When customers can purchase just the amount they want, they can prevent food waste, experiment more freely, and save on food costs (more on that below).

Save money. Shoppers can generally spend 15% to 25% less on bulk food vs. packaged equivalents. 

Enjoy a fun, farmers market-like experience. A gorgeous bulk foods section is a visual feast of colors, ingredients, and staples—and has no online shopping equivalent. (For related info, be sure to check out Bulk Foods Department 2.0: Tips to Increase Sales and Attract a New Generation of Shoppers.)

Don’t Forget This Quintessential Factor for Innovating Successfully

With tough competition and serious labor challenges, you want your innovation investments to truly make a difference to both your associates and your customers. You’ve just seen a sampling of store innovations that can do that.

But another important factor in helping you innovate effectively is the quality of the vendors you work with.

Ask yourself: Do they go on site to better understand your unique store challenges? Do they bring helpful expertise and industry connections that go beyond the product itself? Are they interested in a partnership for your long-term success?

If you’d like to gain an edge as you consider new equipment and store innovations, Marmon Retail Solutions and its family of retail-focused brands can help. We provide integrated retail products and services that enable your innovations to be more strategic, more cost-effective, and ultimately more successful.

Learn more about how these retail solutions can work for you.

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