Supermarkets could tweet and honk for sales

March 29, 2011

Step right up and buy groceries on your block- inside a supermarket food truck. Could this concept accelerate sales year-round?

Retailers that put mini-stores on wheels – in trucks people can walk into, pick their goods from shelves, shop and pay – can gain incremental trips. By establishing routes where consumers live, stores can expand their trading area and build regularity with a wide shopper base.

Think of the supermarket truck as a convenience store that rolls to its customers. The truck is filled with the store’s Top 50 sellers and probably not much more. Primarily staples and treats for the next day or two, it serves as an efficient engine for coveted Quick Trips.

The Lempert Report see this as a retro idea for today – with gas at $4 a gallon, trips under siege, and shoppers mission-driven, short on time and hating lines. By going where the people and the dollars are, retailers add desired convenience, build transaction counts, and enhance their marquee brand.  The operation could be simple: make neighborhood stops at set times that become known to neighborhood residents.  Much like the prepared-food trucks do, the supermarket truck could Twitter its upcoming destinations and how long it will be at each stop.  

Ice cream trucks are welcome sights in the spring and summer. They bring out the community and encourage neighbors to chat at these serendipitous meetings.  Supermarket trucks could provide a year-round service that fills a similar social need – and also helps the elderly, the ill, the car-less and others by providing greater access to food and beverage.

We see this as the next evolution of the bread man, the milkman and the produce trucks. This is one synergistic store on wheels with popular items to consume from multiple categories. 

In our view, supermarkets would outpace other channels with a truck concept because people view them as food experts with broad varieties of popular goods at generally competitive prices. Remove the gasoline barrier from trips, and make it easier for people to buy.