From gift giving to health care, supermarkets spent the year finding new ways to provide for nonfood customers' needs
Nonfood supermarket executives were attuned to the varied necessities of their customers this year and responded appropriately with both more and sometimes less personal service.
For example, in-store financial-service centers opened, easy gift-giving options were promoted and in-store clinics made a slow but steady march forward.
On the other hand, video moved from high-service rental departments to serve-yourself automated kiosks.
In pharmacy, directors went to bat in Washington, hoping to keep their own funds intact to continue serving lower-income customers.
For instance, the major retail pharmacy associations came together to speak to Congress about what they believed was an unreasonable Oct. 1 deadline requiring that all Medicaid prescriptions be written on tamper-resistant paper. If doctors didn't acquire the new paper by the deadline, pharmacists would have to turn away customers carrying the old paper. Shortly after, President Bush signed into law a six-month delay of the deadline.
Also, after Wal-Mart began launching its new financial-service MoneyCenters designed to serve lower-income customers, Sandy Skrovan, senior vice president and manager of the Food Drug Mass Program of the Retail Forward Intelligence System, Columbus, Ohio, said the concept was working well. “On a recent trip to Wal-Mart, I saw one of the MoneyCenters and there certainly seemed to be a need for it. There was quite a long line.”
Retailers demonstrated that serving customers in every area of the store is also serving the bottom line; turn to the following page for more examples.