Winning over today’s customers is more challenging than ever. The competition isn’t just from neighboring stores, but from online retail, and even other types of businesses including restaurants and experience-based entertainment. For local retail stores to keep the traffic levels high, it’s important to add new tricks to the arsenal. Retailers are taking cues from other businesses, and even establishing partnerships with restaurants and high-value brands, by adding in-store attractions. And what attracts fires more and tasty food and soothing beverages? These days, when you shop, that’s exactly what you may be offered. And as a retail food store owner, offering fresh food and drinks might just be the next important service that you add to your offerings.

 

Brick-and-mortar stores used to be a destination simply out of necessity. One had to shop locally because it was the only, or at least the most convenient, option. But with the growth of online shopping, expanding into the arena of groceries—including local stores once again offering delivery—retailers are discovering the need to make shopping more of an experience. Food as a mere commodity is something consumers want to acquire through convenience. But whether dining out or shopping, consumers are more than happy to patronize stores and venues that are experiential. A great experience makes it a destination, and something worth repeating.

 

Offering food and beverages as part of the shopping experience also has many benefits for the purveyor. By using these resources to attract and please customers, your patience will be talking about you and encouraging others to check out your store. Food and drink and have many roles as an in-store benefit:

 

Immersive Experience

At its simplest, food and beverage samples (or even full-size servings) make shopping an immersive experience. The buyer isn’t just picking up a few grocery items, but is enjoying the experience and partaking in some enjoyable snacks during the process. Like popcorn at a theater, or coffee over business meeting, many activities are just better with food or something to drink.

 

Educational Opportunity

As consumers’ views on food have shifted more toward enjoyment, experience, and entertaining, a valuable addition at the grocery store is a food experience that is also an educational opportunity. From wine tasting to educate the palate, to entire cooking classes or how-tos for unique ingredients, patrons will enjoy such offerings at local grocery stores and will eagerly sign up for the next class.

 

Showcase of Products

Food and drink offerings can also, naturally, highlight and showcase products that are available in-store. Popular items can be featured, as well as high-end, high-profit margin items—particularly those that customers may be “afraid” of. Novice home cooks may be afraid to buy a quality steak or pricey seafood for fear that they will ruin it during the cooking process. But a showcase of the item, paired with an instructional session on cooking it successfully, can result in a very happy patron—as well as the sale.

 

Retailers can truly elevate the shopping experience by including food and beverages for customers. With shopping competition growing both local and virtual, these shopping perks will make a local store stand out and bring customers back for more.

 

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