If you’re looking for the latest trends in creating destination centers, you should be looking at what’s trending in retail foodservice in general.

Destination centers — strategically planned locations with retail selling area designed to attract shoppers through an integrated product mix, merchandising techniques and shopper engagement — can result in a unique shopping experience.  But destination centers are fully utilized when they’re designed around current shopping and consumption trends.

One huge example: meal kits.

“Grocery customers are looking for convenience when it comes to meal planning and preparation and they want those meals to be fresh and healthy options,” says Cheryl Beach, marketing communications manager for Bridgeton, Missouri-based Hussmann Corporation. “With more home delivery options such as Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated and others, brick and mortar stores can replicate the meal kit solution by merchandising all the meal components together conveniently accessible for their customer.”

Beach also suggests that destination centers can be created to take advantage of new food trends that shoppers are willing to pay for. Fresh juice and smoothie bars, indulgences — like popcorn, gelato, chocolates and candy — gourmet sandwiches and salad bars can help shoppers personalize and customize their own foods.

And not focusing on that customer experience can lead to the creation of a doomed destination center.

“One of the bigger mistakes that can occur when creating a destination center is that you lose sight of the customer experience,” Beach says. “This is an opportunity for the brick-and-mortar retailers to build loyalty and differentiate their store from their competition, but in order to be successful, the customer must receive a value for their loyalty.”

Beach says Hussman helps retailers ensure that with a mix of experience and expertise to help with store layout, shopper flow and product mix that will attract shoppers to the store.

Recent advancements in technology are also helping with destination centers. The digitizing of food retail stores continues to become more integrated into the store environment.

“The destination centers will include self-service ordering kiosks, web-based payment alternatives, self-checkout systems and on-premise click and collect storage,” Beach says. “All these technologies will enhance the shoppers’ instore experience and provide them the convenience they demand when making their meal decisions.”



Three keys to creating a successful destination center, from Hussman’s Cheryl Beach

Cross-merchandise refrigerated and non-refrigerated products together. “Shoppers can easily fill their baskets with one stop. For example, add some frozen vegetables into the fresh product department, or add pasta, bread and cheese to the fresh meat department. Bring together the products that engage the five senses and elevate the shopping experience.”

Use lighting and signage. “Create ambiance to attract the shopper’s attention by highlighting your special feature areas throughout the store.”

Utilize digital technologies. “Digital signages enables retailers to share information wit the shopper, such as special promotions, offers and events occurring instore. A shopper engagement technology like Darius for Retail allows the retailer to personalize their promotions to their shoppers before, during and after their shopping journey.”