Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Ore., strives to keep its front end on the cutting edge with new technology.
Chief operating officer Lauren Johnson says the family-owned store was the first in Oregon to use electronic shelf tags eight years ago, and it recently upgraded its self-checkouts and added Apple Pay technology.
Newport Avenue Market
"Customers are excited about it. Certainly not all of our customers are using it, but it's changing the way customers are looking at who we are," Johnson says. "When we are looking at technology and moving forward, we tend to be early adopters."
With the investments, Newport Avenue Market aims to improve service and reduce the time shoppers wait in line to check out. The ramifications can be felt throughout the store, because labor has been reallocated with the front-end improvements.
For retailers, new technology has brought faster scanning, fewer price checks and shorter lines. With less space required for checkout lanes, grocers are redesigning the traditional front end. Many are adding coffee bars and in-store eateries, along with banks and other store-within-a-store concepts. Some grocers also are pulling merchandise to the entryway, providing a way to showcase items at special prices or seasonal merchandise, such as produce, plants or holiday wreaths and trees.
It's happening against a backdrop of increased channel blurring and new interest in ordering for home delivery, drive-thru pickup or in-store pickup, which will present new challenges for luring shoppers into the brick-and-mortar store.
"It's all about the experience," says Carl Preller, chief performance officer, North America, for Geometry Global. "You want people in your stores, you want traffic, and you don't want them shopping across online retail even if you have your own website."
Newport Avenue Market has resisted launching an e-commerce platform in favor of improving the in-store experience. By alleviating manual tasks, such as price changes, technology is providing Newport Avenue Market's employees more time to chat with shoppers.
"How we drive sales is through a connection with our consumers. The way we can have that is if customers come through our door and take time to shop with us," Johnson says, noting that many of the store's regular customers shop three times a week at the store. Its employee count has increased to about 100 from 50, as it has added personnel throughout the 20,000-square-foot store, Johnson says.