FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The role of housewares in the supermarket channel will gain importance in coming years. This was the prediction of Michael Terpkosh, director of category management for grocery wholesaler Supervalu, Minneapolis, who recently addressed attendees at the HFN Impact Conference here.
"We need to work closer with retailers to increase the role of housewares," Terpkosh said. "Housewares will become more important [in the supermarket channel] to increase sales and profits."
Currently, the placement of housewares in supermarkets varies wildly from being a small convenience to being a destination. But offering food preparation-related hard goods can turn supermarkets into one-stop shopping alternatives for consumers who are looking to buy food and the items needed to prepare it.
"Yes, people are coming to a grocery store to buy food, and are not thinking of housewares," Terpkosh admitted. He added that another drawback is that the average shopper spends only 21 minutes in a supermarket. But the upside is that the average customer -- though only there for a short time -- visits a supermarket two to three times a week.
"Our shoppers are in a hurry," he pointed out. "They want to find what they need and get out. There is a high potential to increase business" by offering housewares products.
"For years in the grocery industry, we beat each other on price and built more stores," said Terpkosh. "We lost focus on the consumer and understanding what brings loyalty." Giving customers the convenience of being able to buy housewares at the same place they buy their food will increase repeat business.
Category management will enable retailers to determine which housewares they should offer, and which are not as important, he said.
"It will help us understand consumers' needs and wants," Terpkosh explained. "Then we can develop item mixes and sets which fit better."
Terpkosh cited bakeware, cookware and gadgets as the product categories he thinks will be most effective in the supermarket channel.
As for small electrics, Terpkosh said products within that category are appropriate only for large stores. Even then, he said, Supervalu does not see many opportunities with kitchen electrics because of the competitive nature of the business.