Every customer is a person and every person knows they need to drink water. Give your customers what they need in the way of an infused water bar like we have at D&W Fresh Market. It just may help your bottom line.

Complimentary filtered water infused with the rainbow of Mother Nature’s flavors served up in a compostable cup? Yes please! If it’s an avenue to reuse shrink and keep customers energized while they shop — why not? Water helps the body work more efficiently. Could water build customer stamina for a longer shopping trip? Maybe.

The infused waters are made with fruits that may be bruised, overripe or imperfect and can't be sold. The riper the better to intensify the sweetness, so shrink is perfect to use.

While I'd love to report that this idea will "shrink your shrink," it won't. But, the water bar will allow you repurpose your shrink and provide your customers with a cost effective, value-added shopping experience for only the price of the dispensers, fresh herbs and labor — provided that your store has an icemaker and filtered water already.

Lunch anyone?

However, what if this minimal investment increased customer traffic during non-peak hours? D&W Fresh Market Store Director Ricky Myers says, “The infused water bar drives lunch traffic. And, customers who buy their lunch in the deli then visit the water bar to pour themselves a drink are walking our store. That is another huge asset.”

This is not a revelatory concept. You may have seen an infused water bar in a hotel lobby or at a swanky summer party. It’s not new. But — just like exercising or being on a budget — the trick is actually committing to it on a daily basis. That is when the magic happens.

Hi! I’m your produce guy.

You need a champion in your produce department to carry out this mission, like Dave Heetderks, produce manager at D&W Fresh Market at Knapp’s Crossing in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Dave oversees the infused water bar by preparing the infusions at night for the next day, and assembling the infusions, water and ice into each dispenser in the morning. He and his crew simply add more water and ice as needed.

At the end of the day the waters are composted and the process starts over again. Flavors are determined by what he was going to shrink out anyway. Dave plays around with different combinations and admits that some of his concoctions never make it to the sales floor. No one bats a thousand. Dave says the infused water “stops customers long enough so we can say ‘Hi.’ It’s a great conversation starter."

Last call.

With the infused waters you know that you are simply repurposing your shrink, enticing customers in during the day, showcasing new ways to use produce and planting a seed of a relationship with the produce staff. But, all the customer knows is, the infused water is healthy, refreshing, great tasting and that the store cares. They’ll be back for more.

Let's chat.

In this age of super store competition, what do you do to enhance the shopping experience and build that all important relationship with the customer?

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