In areas like health and beauty care, where solution selling becomes more difficult due to the high number of stockkeeping units, retailers still must move beyond traditional approaches to merchandising, sources told SN. With so many small packages filling the section, it's easy for consumers to zoom past products.
"One of the things you get in these aisles is this endless perspective. Envision how fast you go on Highway 10 between Tallahassee [Fla.] and Texas. It's just a straight ribbon of asphalt with pine trees on both sides," said Tom Henken, vice president, director of design, Architecture Plus International, Tampa, Fla. "The next thing you know, you're doing 80 miles per hour and you didn't notice. The same thing happens in the aisles."
Retailers need to incorporate bends or breaks in merchandise presentations to slow consumers down and stop them in the aisles, he said.
A complete redesign of stores isn't necessary to create those breaks and draw attention to categories, designers said. Tools as simple as color coding the price rail to highlight categories, changing the flooring, special lighting, unique fixtures, graphics and tie-ins send a clear message to consumers.
"All those things tied together help send the message to a first-time customer... that this department is special, that the retailer is going to do something with this nonfood department that the customer is going to appreciate," said Tim Morrison, retailer supermarkets principal, Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, Charlotte, N.C. The firm has consulted with Harris Teeter, Publix, Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Genuardi's Family Markets, Safeway, Vons, Amacamas Market and Sunset Food.
Amacamas Market, an independent natural and organic store in Charlotte, N.C., integrated its health care and HBC offerings into one comprehensive section at the front of the store. The position of the department, as well as its look and feel, helped set it apart, Morrison said.
Supermarkets have an "enormous" number of HBC items, said Nancy Shalek, president, Shalek Advisers, Purchase, N.Y. While supermarkets do need to have a substantial presence in this area, it needs to be tempered by quality product presentation, she said.
"Supermarkets go into HBC following the basic supermarket premise," Shalek said. "That is, 'If I don't have the kinds of peas my customer wants, and the size of peas my customer wants at the cheapest price, they're going to go somewhere else.' That's not a valid grocery premise, nor is it a valid GM premise. I think supermarkets are coming to understand that."
Even in areas like HBC, supermarkets could bring in category experts, Shalek said. Bringing in a drug store chain with the infrastructure and retail base to manage a department, for example, would allow supermarkets to do a better job. The essence of the supermarket that tries to offer every grocery product a consumer might want doesn't have to penetrate nonfoods for the two departments to coexist under the same roof, she said.