- Weis Markets will open an upscale concept store in Enola, Pa. this week that features service-oriented offerings like a juice bar, yogurt bar and an ice cream parlor, according to Supermarket News.
- The 65,000-square-foot store will also include a store-within-a-store concept stocked with gluten-free, organic and specialty items.
- The new location is an effort by Weis Markets to move away from “the middle of the road,” according to CEO Jonathan Weis. “We want to be interesting, not boring or dull,” he said in an interview with PennLive.com. “We just have a philosophy that we're not going to be afraid to fail.”
Jonathan Weis' comments offer a refreshingly candid assessment as to why his company, along with so many other retailers across the U.S., are building more upscale, service-oriented store formats.
In a crowded industry where traditional retailers like Weis are under pressure from alternative formats, the same old "middle of the road" grocery shopping experience just won't cut it. Supermarkets need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. And shoppers, especially millennials, are placing a higher value on shopping that offers an experience.
In opening this new concept, Weis joins retailers like Niemann Foods and Hy-Vee that are trailing new upscale stores. Food service and specialty products are a common focus, along with some unexpected extras to further push outside the traditional supermarket mold.
But are these stores doing enough to offer consumers a new look? Some retailers seem to be trying to play catch up by throwing a lot of money into big, splashy stores like this. One service-focused, crowd-pleasing store won't make up for a hundred other stores that offer a subpar shopping experience.
It all depends, really, on how well Weis and other retailers use these stores to inform their broader operations. The new format should be a test lab for new products. If something's a hit there, it could be worth rolling out to other store locations. The same goes for service concepts, store layout and other features.
In a low-margin industry, innovation is often slow in coming. It's tough to "be fearless", as Weis noted, and to not be “afraid to fail" when your capital expenditures are limited.That's why Weis has to make its new store count. With the right research and data approach, it could become a change agent for the entire company.