Bill Bishop, chief architect and co-founder of Barrington, Illinois-based Brick Meets Click, says the increase in meal solutions at grocery retail has created a big uptick in the opportunity for cross-merchandising.

This is true, he says, both within the fresh perimeter and between the perimeter and center-store. Within the perimeter, for instance, you might find fresh seafood marketed with fresh vegetables, with signage suggesting recipes and meal serving opportunities.

(Kansas City, Kansas-based Balls Foods is among the chains experimenting with this cross-merchandising technique in some of its Hen House banner stores.)

West Des Moines-based retailer Hy-Vee is among the chains that do a good job of taking advantage of cross-merchandising opportunities in the fresh perimeter, Bishop says. And among smaller retailers, companies like three-store chain Dayton, Ohio-based Dorothy Lane Market are among the top performers.

When it comes to perimeter/center-store synergies, meanwhile, the increase in meal kits and meal solutions has meant that shoppers get some of the components of their meals from the deli or prepared foods section, for example, and others — breads or other carbs — from center-store.

Looking ahead, there is huge potential, Bishop says, in using digital as a platform for cross-merchandising within the fresh perimeter without having to invest the labor and the space to display the products together.

Shoppers could, for instance, click on a protein item they wanted to order and be directed to fruits, vegetables, breads, sides or other items that would go well with their protein, or gain access to recipes and preparation and cooking tips or other information.