SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Consumer's Food & Drug here is converting its video rental departments from live inventory to a service-counter approach to improve foot traffic, said Jay Larson, director of general merchandise.
The company has a total of eight video departments and two are now in the new configuration. One was converted late last year, while the other opened in a new store earlier this month, said Larson. A schedule for converting the other stores is being put together, he said.
"Based on the space limitations we have, we need to open up that area and make it more customer-friendly to increase the traffic flow. Changing the live departments into sections where the videos are stored behind the counter provides better access for people who want to browse," he said.
Live inventory departments are typically enclosed areas protected by a security system. This method allows the actual tapes to be displayed on the shelves instead of empty boxes. It is preferred by many retailers, although some, like Consumer's and Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis, are starting to look anew at the service-counter approach as a way to boost traffic, noted industry observers.
"Plus, it gives our stores a more open look. It's a little more shopper-friendly, at least in our situation," said Larson.
The results so far are very encouraging, he said. "At the store we converted, we have seen video rental increase 10% to 15%," he said. It's too early to report on the new store, located in Mountain Home, Ark.
"We are looking forward to offering the service of a video store within all our supermarkets," he said. "Our ultimate goal is to build business and drive sales."
Consumer's also is boosting its rental inventory in these stores by 40% to 45%, mostly in new releases, he said. "Our average department will have 3,200 rental units, including games," he said.
About 35% to 40% of the departments' inventory will be in new releases. "That's what we need to compete with the video stores," he said.
Consumer's Food & Drug has a total of 20 supermarkets. As a subsidiary of Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City, it also includes Boogaart's, Concordia, Kan., which has 22 stores, all with rental departments. Matt Dillon, video director, runs the video program at Boogaart's.
Consumer's is giving the converted departments a new look, with wood fixtures that are color-coordinated with the teal, burgundy and beige decor of the stores. Among the other services to be offered with video are postal, lottery, Western Union, money orders and photo drop-off, depending on the individual store.
Sell-through is not a part of the rental departments, Larson said. "Sell-through is merchandised in a different way in every store, but not near the video department," he noted.