Tasting during shopping: retail becomes a restaurant

Catering combined with retail is a widespread experience, and not just in the domain of food distribution. But in particular in large-scale retail trade, there are synergies in sharing structures and laboratories, as well as products, and in the ability to directly promote the brand through a communication that emphasises the use of private label products in the courses tasted by customers. In large-scale retail trade, both types are available: both provide catering service in combination with gastronomic area (if the sales surface allows it), and locate an area outside the cashier tills. It must be a functional and inviting area, to offer a break with food and wine purposes, combined with the possibility to connect to WiFi for leisure or work. Even ordering and payment must not cause any stress.

Retailers' interest mainly concerns the inner catering areas. First of all, the need to integrate a tasting path into an overall sales experience emerges. This happens for one main reason: increase customers’ stay in the store. A second and not less important reason is to introduce in the experience of shopping such a function as tasting, which allows creating connections between products in the supermarket and the possibilities they express when they are assembled and cooked: therefore, a function of inspiration and acculturation.

Those who set up and design these restaurants must aim at expressing the connection with retailer's products, so as to induce a sense of confidence and empathy towards the brand. Also abroad there is a lot of attention for whatever is Italian: ultimately, our cuisine, in addition to being tasty and very popular, is also easy to realise and allows an infinite number of variants with relatively simple raw materials; so, it lends itself to distribution needs. Furniture is ultimately the last of the elements of a winning format. The first one is location, the second consists in smile and service. Eataly has changed its rules: it is able to allow eating everywhere, without limits to imagination and experimentation. That's why retailers can dare a little more.

How does catering affect the budget? The benefits in terms of image and service are obvious. The choice is certainly appreciated by customers, who are constantly increasing. The profit and loss account expresses appreciable results in terms of profitability, with a positive impact also on the sales results of private labels.

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