AT YOUR SERVICE – GROCERS LOOK TO CONCIERGE SERVICES

Tourists love having concierge services in hotels when they travel to new places, and business travellers enjoy being able to ask concierges if there are any events, shows, or new dining spots open that they should check out if they have a spare couple of hours. So why are there not concierge services for those who go to the supermarket week in and week out who need some direction or inspiration? What would a supermarket concierge look like?

In 2013, Waitrose invested in a multi-million-dollar programme to offer its customers an enhanced customer experience. The changes include the introduction of a concierge-style welcome desk in its shops offering a range of personalised services. Supported by the company’s successful growth in e-commerce, the concierge-style service also acts as a welcome desk interface for online customers collecting orders in-store.

As customers choose to shop using different channels, the role of the physical supermarket has changed. Increasingly Waitrose branches are becoming hubs for ordering and collection, in addition to the everyday customer service needs of supermarket shoppers. The new welcome desk, initially installed in 100 branches before rolling out to all shops in 2014, is the hub of each supermarket, providing new services such as flower and gift wrapping, and an area for ordering via in-store tablets. A dry-cleaning service also features.

It doesn’t have to stop there. Many supermarkets in New Zealand have hinted at plans of hiring concierges to be in-store and walking the aisles to help customers find products of interest, new products, and give meal inspiration. Staff would also be trained for in-store demonstrations on easy meal prep ideas. This would particularly be the case for prepared food areas like the deli or butchery.

The opportunity to help and engage with customers in-store is something retailers shouldn’t ignore.

The Food Channel believes in this potential opportunity for grocers. In a statement, they recommended that grocery stores have chefs offering cooking classes, as well as specialists who can direct customers to the best cheese, best meats, and best baked goods.

“We began to see it years ago when we predicted the rise in butchers, and it’s gone beyond. Cooking classes are everywhere – sponsored by grocery stores, private caterers and restaurants of all sorts. The supermarket concierge is the next logical step in the progression,” said the statement.

Chefs have been collaborating and joining supermarkets to support the growth in ready-meals and meal kits but also to offer cooking advice to customers. Expert advice from chefs can help encourage customers to tackle new recipes and unfamiliar ingredients.