Stop & Shop Takes New Approach to GM/HBC

Sep 21, 2005

By George Anderson

Stop & Shop hasn’t made any major adjustments to how it merchandises its general merchandise (GM) and health and beauty care (HBC) department in nearly a quarter of a century,
writes Glenn Snyder in the Sept. 2005 issue of Progressive Grocer.

That, however, is changing as the chain’s new prototype gives increased attention to GM/HBC and clusters categories such as cosmetics, party goods and office supplies under illuminated
valences over polished wood floors to give the department a distinct feel from the rest of the store.

Clusters, writes Mr. Snyder, are highlighted by illuminated valences. “The most prominent of these are the concave graphics attached to the tops of the shelving, which show lifestyle
photographs — many humorous — enhanced by well-aimed track lighting. End caps abound in the store’s nonfood section; there are 30 in all. Aisles are eight feet wide, leaving
plenty of breathing room for strategically placed shippers and allowing for a more leisurely shopping experience.”

“We felt that we had accumulated sufficient merchandising know-how to take a strong position in locating the department,” said Stop & Shop president Marc Smith. “We believe
that the consumer, too, has come to accept, and want to buy, general merchandise and health and beauty care in their supermarket, and doesn’t really need traffic departments to
attract them there.”

The changes have apparently worked. The department with a footprint of 1,400 linear feet accounts for more than 10 percent of total store sales in the prototype.

The new format continues Stop & Shop’s store-within-a-store concept with Staples although the company has created its own toy set after a store-within-a-store test with Toys
R Us failed.

“Staples has excellent brand-name recognition and offered us an exclusive in our trading area,” says Peter Hettinger, former v.p of nonfoods with Stop & Shop. “They have
also developed private label items for us. They know their business and are learning ours.”

“Most supers do a poor job with computer items in terms of pricing and assortment,” he added. “That will not be the case for Stop & Shop. Plus most of our stores run 24 hours,
so if customers or students run out of paper or ink late at night, they can buy the needed items at our place.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are supermarkets making optimal use of GM/HBC to drive business performance? What lessons are there from Stop & Shop and others
on how to maximize GM/HBC’s ability to draw traffic and build revenue and profits?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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5 Comments on "Stop & Shop Takes New Approach to GM/HBC"

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Warren Thayer
16 years 8 months ago

Supers have really lost share here to other channels over the years, and sounds like Stop & Shop has a good start at turning things around. It’s still going to be a tall order. To my mind, shoppers have come to expect better variety and/or better pricing at drugstores and box stores, so it’ll be hard to change the mindset. Better visibility and promotion are obvious factors that would help, so long as you have something decent to offer, as Stop & Shop obviously does. Glad to see a change there over all those years. Glenn Snyder once told me, with that impish smile of his, that “Planograms absolutely should be changed every 10 years, whether they need it or not.”

Bill Bishop
Bill Bishop
16 years 8 months ago

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like most supermarkets are making optimal use of GM/HBC. In fact, on average, they’re losing share at a significant rate in these categories.

Doing more with merchandising like Stop & Shop will help demonstrate that a supermarket is in the business — which is critical. But, soon-to-be-published research for FMI and Prevention Magazine, i.e., Shopping for Health 2005 will show that supermarkets must deal with the price image in these categories if they’re going to have an appealing value proposition for most shoppers.

Mark Lilien
16 years 8 months ago

It’s tough to be the nonfood executive in a food-driven business. If most customers come for the food, emphasizing something else can undermine the Unique Selling Proposition. As Herschell Gordon Lewis says, “E squared = nothing.” In other words, “…When you try to emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.” That doesn’t give permission for the nonfood areas to be boring, overpriced, or poorly displayed. But if they become the major draw, then the food store’s in trouble. Here’s the real issue: what is the chain doing to make food selling exciting?

Les Haughton
Les Haughton
16 years 8 months ago

Rather than go through the expense of fixtures and wood floors, maybe Stop and Shop should hand out dollar bills at the front and beg their customer to buy overpriced GM/HBC merchandise.

Deborah Beltz
Deborah Beltz
14 years 5 months ago
I believe that most companies do not have a clue. They need to get involved in the actual process of what it takes to run a HBC department or be in a General Merchandise position; they only see numbers, which are in important to the bottom line, but until they have actually worked a few years in the position–and I mean years,because a few months like they give their managers in these departments, is just inadequate. All Senior managers forget how necessary it is and how important it is to our bottom line. I believe all managers should have to work these departments and try to understand, not in the fancy way it looks, but that it’s all in how you treat your everyday customers; if your not on an upbeat path and can’t give the customer your all, you might as well throw in the towel. I feel that the HBC departments and General Merchandise areas are not being taken seriously. They are one of the last places to receive attention. These are very… Read more »

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