Life and Its Woes!
Did you know that shopping in a supermarket is one of the major causes of high blood pressure in the lives of modern consumers? Buying something as simple as groceries, which seems like a routine chore, can turn into a frustrating experience, especially when you are standing at the end of the queue with only a couple of items tucked in your arms, and trying to stay calm and wait patiently for your turn at the cash counter.
Not to mention, the difficulty in finding the item you are looking for amidst the crazy jumble, and the tendency to end up purchasing a dozen different things that you could have done without (talk of impulsive shopping!)
I hate going to the supermarket just to buy a dozen eggs, or a bottle of milk or a beer pack, i.e., anything that does not feature in my lengthy monthly shopping list. Thankfully, for people like me, there are specialty stores. Customized retail outlets dedicated only to a certain category of products, with simple layouts, neat designs, easy product displays, convenient shopping formats and much, much shorter queues!
Specialty Stores vs. Supermarkets
With an explosive growth of new generation specialty store concepts, it will not be wrong to assume that supermarkets are slowly loosing their charm and market share.
With chic store designs, flexible store formats and user-friendly layouts and product displays – specialty store concepts truly make shopping seem like a breeze.
You might argue that one can find just about anything in a supermarket – from a wide range of perishable food items, meats and bakery products, canned and frozen food to baby diapers, DIY art and craft stuff, sports goods and even guns (Go Walmart!). But such supermarkets or even hypermarkets come with their own string of problems.
- Owing to unfeasibility, parking issues, exorbitant rental costs and the sheer unavailability of large spaces in city centers, most of these hypermarkets are usually located in the periphery. Driving all the way down is a major inconvenience in itself and one trip back and forth means a day lost from your weekend.
- Most supermarkets are located inside malls and serve as anchor stores, pulling very high volume of traffic. The overwhelming crowd in such spaces makes ‘convenient shopping’ a myth.
- Ultimately, it really boils down to the limited amount of time you have to tick off every item on your shopping list. First, a significant amount of shopping time goes into locating products that you want to buy. And then there is that killer queue! And if, perchance you want to exchange an item, then God help you!
So while it does make sense to visit the supermarket once (or twice) a month, it just doesn’t seem like a practical idea to end up there for petit, everyday shopping. It’s a complete waste of time, energy and money – there, I said it!
On the contrary, here are the top 5 reasons why I find shopping at specialty stores so much better:
- Stress on Specialty – Specialty stores focus on a particular category of products and specialize in that category. Take for example a specialty grocery store. From local farm produce to oriental spices and exotic herbs – they stock everything that you want to buy, of top quality, and in varying price range. Such categorical products are usually difficult to find in general supermarkets, where the focus is on generic items – not ‘specials’. Irrespective of the store size, specialty stores offer a much greater variety of specialist merchandise stock as compared to a general store that stocks everything, but nothing that you like or want to buy in particular. From the sheer variety of products to the pricing range, specialty shops spoil consumers for choices, ensuring they buy exactly what they are looking for.
- Quality Shopping – The brand image and value of specialty stores bank heavily on the range and quality of their specialist products, their pricing and customer service. Specialty stores have a narrow marketing range. Therefore, they focus on niche product categories and specialize in their offerings. This means, as a consumer, you get many choices, do not compromise on quality and buy something that fits your budget.
- Time Saving – In a supermarket, people feel compelled to buy ‘everything’, if you know what I mean. This means really long check-out queues. Shopping at a specialty store is quick and convenient, because most of these stores are located bang in the city center or in close vicinity to your home or workplace. That cuts down on long travel time. You go, you buy and you check out. Other customers do the same. Focused product categories mean limited buying and smaller shopping carts. Queues move quickly and the shopping to check out time frame is much shorter. Your patience is not tested and your time not wasted!
- Economical Shopping – You visit a specialty shop only to buy certain (specific) items. There is no room for binge shopping and therefore, you do not splurge on unnecessary items. For example, when you visit a wine shop, there’s only so much that you can buy. But enter a supermarket and all hell breaks loose. You feel an impulse to buy the perfect cheese samplers and tasty tidbits to go with the bottle of Chianti – then your partner suddenly remembers that he needs to buy a new corkscrew. In the meantime, you move on to the candles section to buy the most aromatic block of wax to light if and when you have guests, to set the right mood and pop that bottle of wine – your mind does all the impromptu planning, impulsive shopping carries on and on and you end up spending much more than you had planned. Such superfluous shopping is restricted in a specialty shop. Plus, with attractive price ranges, you can actually save a lot of money!
- Excellent Customer Service – In a supermarket, somehow everything seems very mechanical – robotic even. The lady on the cash counter who is supposed to handle hundreds of prickly customers in her shift might not know everything about everything that the supermarket sells. The staff usually do not have the time, energy, patience or interest to pause for a moment, smile and offer to help. On the contrary, excellent customer service is the USP of specialty stores. As a customer you get all the attention. All your queries are answered by knowledgably staff. Your special requests are taken care of and you get a highly personalized service that guarantees your loyalty as a customer.
Where Would You Display Your Products?
So, if you own a brand of specific products, which retail store format would you choose? A supermarket where your products might be tucked on the highest shelf (if you don’t pay for a better one) and simply get lost amongst dozens of other brands, or a specialty store that brands, markets and sells only your offerings and has an enduring flow of loyal customers who want to buy your products?