The boundary between the retail and hospitality industries has faded considerably in recent years. And it’s no question that today’s consumers are looking for convenient, fresh and healthy meal solutions and are willing to turn to a variety of different sources to get it, says Bart de Jong, Managing Director at our Netherlands office in a recent guest blog for Marketing Online.

According to Bart, the retail/hospitality experience has evolved, for example with Jumbo Foodmarkt (Breda, Netherlands) and other concept stores like the brand new 4.500 m2 Deka World of Food in Beverwijk and the plans for a Fooddrome in Venlo. However very little has changed for the average Dutch shopper. To capitalise on the need for healthy convenience and the merging retail/hospitality trend, retailers, more than ever, need to be bold and embrace innovation, not just in a small number of concept stores, but through their entire estate.

Here are four tips to achieve a successful retail/hospitality crossover:

1. Don’t be afraid to innovate.
Innovation is needed to create a personalized approach at supermarkets and to turn the weekly shopping trip into an experience that people are willing to pay a premium for and will come back for, time and time again.

2. Leverage shopper insight to find the right ways to experiment.
By using shopper insight and experimenting with different elements, retailers can come up with innovative approaches to deliver added value to the shopper experience. Small-scale initiatives could include a salad bar, meal of the day, etc. A bolder approach could be to bring a chef onto the shop floor to cook a fresh meal based on a number of ingredients picked by the customer. Customers can choose to consume it in-store or at home.

3. Extend the experience to the customer’s home.
The shopper experience is not restricted to the supermarket. By displaying complementary food and non-food products, like salad ingredients with trendy or themed salad bowls, supermarkets can extend to the customer’s home. The aim is to inspire and by doing so, encourage additional purchases and command higher margins.

4. Don’t underestimate product presentation on shelf.
Not only should the right products be grouped together, but packaging design needs to attract the shopper to the shelf. To create an attractive shelf proposition, retailers should work with brand owners to draw consumers in; improve product recognition and the overall shopper experience. This combination will encourage sales from the shelf out.

The retail market changes constantly and it’s critical that retailers take a bold approach to innovation: invest in retail/hospitality in-store space, develop appealing concepts and inspire shoppers with food and non-food offers that deliver a personalized experience.

The waiting game is over – who will rise to the challenge to bring innovation to its stores on a national scale?