What makes for a great food shopping experience?

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What makes for a great food shopping experience


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Nobody remembers an average food shopping experience. Normally, a trip to the shops to restock – whether it’s a supermarket, a greengrocer, a bakery or a deli – will only be memorable if you have a great experience, or if you have a poor one.

But what makes a food shopping experience amazing, and what makes it a disappointment? I asked my social media followers for their views.

First, the good…


Good stock levels

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was the positive that was mentioned the most. “Having enough stock in” and “full shelves to select from” are the biggest factors in a good shopping experience for many.

However, it seems that it’s not just stock in general that’s important – but the types of stock a food shop carries too. Other responses included “a great choice of vegan groceries”, and “loads of local produce, and a good selection of cheese, condiments & wine”.



Cleanliness was something that was also mentioned by multiple people. A dirty store is bad enough in any retail environment – but even more so for a food shop, where you’d think that food hygiene standards would be adhered to.

In a similar vein, another person mentioned that ensuring that items on the shelves are still in date was a priority for them: why would you want to shop at a store where you can’t guarantee that the food you buy is fresh?


Great staff

Staff that smile and say hello when you enter the shop, staff that offer help with queries, checkout staff with great customer service skills. There’s no denying that the human element is a major part of the in-store shopping experience.

Respondents recounted stories of where poor customer service had put them off shopping in a particular store: staff who barged past them or expected to give way to them, and, in one case, a supermarket that routinely refused to accept a chip and signature payment card, despite the fact that the terminal stated that it was authorised with a signature.


Speed is of the essence

“If I can be in and then out again, with the stuff I want, in under five minutes, then I’m happy”, explained one respondent. The ability to do this is a culmination of many things: a great layout that’s easy to navigate, well-trained staff, and great stock levels.


An exciting food shopping experience

They may be gimmicky to some, but in-store experiences are becoming bigger and bigger. Not so much in the food space, maybe, but “VR headsets and free beer” was mentioned by one respondent. Wouldn’t it be nice to visit a local shop and be offered a taster glass of a local tipple as you browse?

Of course, many shops do offer free samples for shoppers to taste – but is there anything else retailers can do to make sure that food shopping with them is an exciting and memorable experience?


And what about the not-so-great…?


Poor layout design

Of course, working with a top retail design agency is the best way for food shop owners to ensure that they’ve got the design nailed! There were certain things, though, that came through when I asked what makes food shopping a bad experience…

Natural light was one. “A lack of windows means that the space feels dystopian before you start”, said one respondent – something for business owners to think about before they sign a lease?

“Spacious so I don’t feel like I’m in the way of anyone”, said another. However, one response recognised that this isn’t always possible. “Space is obviously a premium due to property values so I’m not sure this issue can ever be tackled from the store perspective”, they said. However, doing what’s possible with the layout – looking at the interior from the customer’s point of view – can make a big difference.


Poor checkout experience

The checkout experience will be the final impression that shoppers get of a store…so it needs to be a good one! Long queues at the till, a lack of basket-only tills (in bigger supermarkets), and a failure to open more tills when busy, leading to needing to use self-checkouts, irritate some shoppers.

One respondent – who describes herself as “older” – now mostly buys larder groceries online for delivery because she’s sick of self-service checkouts. “I prefer to avoid the dreaded pack-it-yourself station with machines that go: whoopee, an old person – how many times can I make her call the assistant?”, she says.


Unappealing offers

The right special offers can entice shoppers to a store, especially if well-publicised externally. Irrelevant or poorly thought out offers, though, can turn shoppers off.

One respondent stated how much they hate “buy one, get one free” offers. “I buy for one person, so the free item will probably go off before I can use it”, they said. “Just make one item half the price”.


What makes a food shopping experience positive or negative for YOU?


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