Identical stores with identical products are not what customers want. They want stores that meet their own specific needs and the needs of their local community. The other thing that they want is for stores to be able to adapt to changing local needs in terms of product and even store layout.
The only way for retailers to be able to meet this growing need at minimal cost is to change how stores are designed and laid out. Morrisons’ approach has been to develop Format Flexible lab stores in three parts of the country that have different demographics and local environments. With stores planned for Weybridge, Milton Keynes and Gateshead they will be able to learn a lot about their ability to model to different needs. For example Weybridge will initially focus on fresh, Gateshead on value and Milton Keynes to the large number of young families in the area. As they learn more about specific needs of local customers in these different areas they will need to be able to add, and delete products quickly and easily and revamp parts of the store at minimum cost.
Making flexible stores work
In addition to the logistics of testing different products, and perhaps even different pricing, Morrisons want to be able to dial up and dial down targeted aspects of the store as part of their learning process. Retailers who go down a similar route will also need to be able to rapidly change in-store signage. If customers can’t easily spot where products are and the reasons that they should buy those products it will be hard to evaluate the full benefits from the flexible store strategy.
We have been talking to several retailers who are working on a similar strategy and most of them see a key part of their plans as also testing the effectiveness of different marketing messages and reasons to buy in different locations. For many of them the only way that they are going to achieve this is with a much more flexible and modern signage and ticketing solution. That’s why they are talking with us here at Pierhouse.