Products, particularly produce, are the stars in the lighter, brighter store redesign.
Originally printed in the October 2021 issue of Produce Business.
The time was ripe for change. Save A Lot has launched a remodeling program that puts product, particularly produce, in the spotlight to create a shopping experience that satisfies existing customers and entices new shoppers.
Craig Herkert, interim CEO of Save A Lot, Earth City, MO, says the remodeling program comes at an important moment for the company, as it addresses a changing marketplace and a consumer weighing new options available for buying food.
“Great brands embrace continued evolution that meets customers where they are today,” Herkert says. “In order to set Save A Lot up to be the brand of choice for our customers and a go-to resource in our local communities, we knew that it was vital to reflect that modern approach in our logo, stores, and marketing.
“As a 40-plus year brand, now is the perfect time to remodel our stores, and we’ve made sure to work closely with our retail partners on the new store design, which is a contemporary evolution of the brand inspired by customer and employee feedback. Along with our employees and customers, we are thrilled with the results and all that is to come.”
NEXT LOGICAL STEP
Save A Lot operates and supports a network of nearly 1,300 stores, working with licensed partners who operate a major percentage of its stores. So the company sought those partners’ experience and advice in developing its ideas for the remodeling program. However, it also asked the people who interact in its stores every day what they would like to see in a Save A Lot update.
“Ahead of making changes and deciding what next steps to take, we turned to the core and center of our business: our customers and employees,” Herkert says. “We heard from both that they were looking for convenience and seamless experiences when shopping, so we knew this refresh was the next logical step for our organization. We also learned that customers and employees were looking for lighter and brighter aisles and an easy-to-shop footprint, so we gave them just that.”
The remodel shines a spotlight not only on Save A Lot strengths, such as its private label program, but also on what it has expanded to adapt to consumers’ changing needs.
“In addition to keeping our existing customers happy and coming back for the high-quality and value products they look for, we are always looking for ways to expand the business and draw in new customers. We believe our brand refresh speaks to our current customers while also helping us create relevancy with a new and broader customer base,” Herkert says.
The heart of the remodeling program is product. Remodeled stores emphasize products that reflect regional and local needs. In fact, at least in some cases, products were remodeled as well as stores.
“We’ve invested in a complete redesign of our 50-plus private label brands, introducing modern graphics and bright colors, and new fixtures and fittings ensure they are front and center,” Herkert says. “We have created a break midway through the center of the store, effectively shortening aisles for an easier browsing experience.”
A ‘FRESH’ JOURNEY
Not surprisingly, food — especially fresh food — turns out to be central to customer considerations. As such, produce and other core fresh foods received more conspicuous positioning in the store.
Herkert says the redesigned fresh sections and cooler, lighting and fixtures all help draw the customers’ eyes. “Fresh is a critical part of our business, and so the store layout is oriented to take customers on a journey that really highlights our produce and meat sections.”
Save A Lot created a basic package for the remodeling program that includes new ways of staging produce, but it also provided its licensed store owners with upgrades.
“Our base remodel program emphasizes lighting, signage and navigation for every section,” Herkert says. “Some of our retail partners are also choosing to add a standalone Alco dry produce fixture, which is available in 8- and 16-foot options. Although not a requirement for remodels, when used, it visually reinforces the produce section as a destination in store.”
Herkert says produce is an opportunity for stores operating under the Save A Lot banner.
“Our remodel design ensures that all produce items have a brightly lit, colorful space in the store near the front to draw in customers. Beyond that, we are always looking for ways to ensure our product offering — especially in produce — meets the needs of the customers at each store. We give our retail partners great flexibility in customizing their assortments to cater to local tastes, and often produce is one of their best opportunities to do this.”
KEEPING ON TRACK
Overall, Save A Lot wants the remodeling program to demonstrate to consumers that its stores are a welcoming, upbeat place to find what they need at value prices.
“We are really looking to resonate with, and meet the needs of, current and new customers as we further evolve the brand, and believe the new easy-to-shop footprint will help them discover all of the value and quality that we have to offer.”
Already in effect, the remodeling program has been well received by consumers, Herkert says. Launched in markets around the metro St. Louis Save A Lot headquarters, the program will proceed with store owners getting assistance from the company to institute the changes. To help offset the capital investment required to significantly upgrade each store, Save A Lot has offered its retail partners up to $50,000 in matching funds.
“We began the remodeling process by updating our entire fleet here in St. Louis and received very positive feedback from our customers,” Herkert says. “We saw consistently strong performance from the remodels, so as a next step, late last year we rolled out a new program to help support all retail partners to follow suit.”
He said the corporate internal team worked to streamline the costs and timeline of a full remodel, providing options to make the process as simple as possible. “And so far, we’ve had a tremendous response to the new program. Currently, we’re on track to complete a third of the fleet by the end of the year, and if we continue at our current pace, we expect all stores to be remodeled by 2024.”
The remodeling program is meant to encompass the entire Save A Lot store base, Herkert says, with a goal of providing shoppers “a store that aligns with our greater mission of becoming the brand of choice for our customers and a go-to resource in our local communities. We believe the remodel really encompasses this, so it’s important that all of our stores reflect the new design.”
Save A Lot
100 Corporate Office Drive, Earth City, MO 63045