While stories of high street closures coupled with online growth are coming thick and fast, some retailers are proving that the two don’t need to go hand in hand. According to Statista, ecommerce is expected to reach 17.5 percent of retail sales in 2021, leaving a sizeable portion taking place in physical stores.
Many will be familiar with the stories of how former pure play online retailers such as Amazon and Zalando are opening high street stores. However, established high street retailers are also reorienting their stores around digital, with service such as click and collect gaining prominence.
One such retailer is the Belgian Delhaize, part of the Ahold Delhaize group, which is reimagining the traditional store in Brussels and Nivelles. In addition to its online initiatives, the company is investing €200 million a year in its chain of company-operated and affiliated stores.
Launched last week in Brussels, the “Fresh Atelier” (fresh workshop) concept offers a range of what the retailer describes as “ultra-fresh” meals and food products designed to meet the needs of busy urban consumers.
The key technology here is “scan and pay”, set to be introduced in February 2019, where people can scan products and pay using their smartphone. The products are served in “Quickscan” boxes to make it easier to scan them.
In addition, people can make orders online via the Delhaize.be website and pick them up from Fresh Atelier.
The new store is one of the smallest in the Delhaize group, sized at 80 square metres. The stores are expected to be an average size of 100 square metres.
The first site is situated at the Ravenstein Gallery in the centre of Brussels, with a second one set to launch in Leuven later this year.
If the pilot is successful, the retailer expects to roll out around 200 more stores across the country over the next three years, particularly in big cities. This will augment the existing 117 pick-up points for online purchases.
Meanwhile, in Nivelles, Delhaize has worked with digital agency This Place on a store which offers physical shoppers access to the online catalogue.
Built based on customer feedback, the watchwords of the new store design are “convenience, inspiration and innovation”. Rather than placing the fruit and vegetable department near the entrance, the store features one of the Fresh Atelier units. Further into the store are the areas suited to bulk shopping such as the frozen department.
The store makes extensive use of omnichannel, offering collection points for stores purchased on Delhaize.be.
More novel are the five video displays which allow customer to order a range of products online in addition to the 20,000 listed as available in store. Store staff are trained to help customers with this method of shopping.
The retailer plans to transform nine more stores in this way by the end of the year and 36 more next year.