2018 is halfway through yet we’ve seen a series of substantial changes in the grocery sector. Amazon Go, Asda-Sainsbury’s, and now, Tesco-Carrefour…

As strategists and designers, it’s our job to translate a client brief into something that improves people’s futures: Customers, staff and shareholders. We do that by listening to customer needs, and accurately interpreting and implementing experiences in-store that take advantage of cutting-edge style and technologies.

These are some of the trends that are gathering the most momentum.


  1. Bring your own packaging

What’s the sign of good packaging? Whether you can recycle, reuse, or refuse to use it in the first place.

Morrison’s, for example, are now inviting customers to bring their own containers to store to take their fish and meat home from their supermarkets. Independents around the UK and beyond are able to implement changes at a faster rate than larger, more established chains. For example, The Clean Kilo in Birmingham are a crowd-funded zero-packaging supermarket that is growing in publicity.

The Clean Kilo


  1. The blurring of in-store and subscription box

According to an article in The Guardian, there has been an 800% increase in the number of visitors to subscription shopping websites since 2014. Just like the vinyl resurgence, there’s something to be said for well-designed, well-curated products.

The line between in-store and online is blurring more and more thanks to online deliveries, with Amazon getting into the grocery space via Amazon Fresh—an extension of their prime subscription. Now, online is making its way into physical stores, with well-established subscription service Hello Fresh offering standalone recipe meal kits for two people in Sainsbury’s stores.

Hello Fresh Sainsbury's

  1. Plastic-free revolution

Plastic is now the enemy, with Morrison’s agreeing to experiment with removing plastic from fresh fruit and veg (although some claim this to be a retrograde move). They are also looking at fitting water fountains in stores to reduce the need for plastic bottles.

Others are also taking strides. Aldi, for example, have agreed a 10-point plastic and packaging pledge plan that you can read here, which includes them reducing all packaging by 50% compared with 2015 levels.


  1. Check-out tech

Diversification of customer habits is at an all-time high. Many older shoppers still prefer interacting with a cashier, while younger shoppers looking for maximum convenience are using more self-service checkouts. Introducing new payment tech that improves efficiency could be a way to speed up sales and improve customer loyalty at the same time. Different retailers have different approaches to this.

  • Amazon Go removes checkouts from the equation altogether, enabling customers to simply walk out and pay automatically, using an advanced sensor system that understands what a user has put in their basket.
  • Last week, Tesco announced they were trailing checkout-free payment in convenience stores, allowing customers to scan products on their phones and walk out with them.
  • Microsoft are also known to be working on a mobile payment solution that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores. According to sources at Reuters, they are speaking with Walmart about a potential collaboration.


  1. Tailored to local

When it comes to product, in-store message and store design, a one-design-fits-all no longer applies. Stores in different regions, and stores of different sizes attract a unique clientele that has specific tastes and requirements. A recent example of this is Waitrose giving up on both of its Manchester city centre stores, which will be replaced with Co-op stores.

Another example comes from Aldi, whose UK-wide roll-out of their “Project Fresh” transformational programme is governed by two core messages of provenance and value. The weight of those messages in each store is governed by regional location and local buying trends.


  1. Meatless meals

Waitrose has reported that sales of vegetarian and vegan food has improved 34 percent compared with last year. The supermarket has now committed to increasing its total Waitrose vegan and vegetarian assortment by 60 percent. With so much plant-based produce in-store, the grocer has dedicated an entire isle to vegan food.

Waitrose Vegan isle

Others have taken a slightly different approach. Sainsbury’s, for example, have added Naturli’ Foods’ vegan “bleeding” mushroom burger, and plant-based mince has been added to shelves next to their meat counterpart.

Change is happening at an exceedingly fast pace on all fronts. Be it product, store environment, or customer-experience, grocers across the world are in a brave new world.


CADA Design provides strategy, graphic and interior design for grocers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we have improved the financial and aesthetic situations of grocers across the world.

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