Fancy a Giraffe with your bread and milk?

By Charlotte Amos

March 21, 2013 | 3 min read

Aside from the obvious horsemeat scandal, the retail industry is currently summing up what it thinks of the supermarkets chains, Asda and Tesco buying or looking to buy, Giraffe and HMV respectively. All exciting stuff, but the question on everyone’s lips is whether or not this is one of the major stepping stones that will help retailers save the bricks and mortar stores.

In many ways, the acquisition of these brands is making the supermarket more of a destination store, a place where people can go not just to do their weekly shop but also to browse CDs and DVD, have a family lunch in Giraffe or get their shoes re-heeled in Timpson. People are being given an obvious incentive over and above just their grocery shop to go in-store in a bid to help rejuvenate sales and attract more shoppers.

So in effect, these types of acquisitions are making places like Tesco and Asda more like the high street in that they have multiple offerings all in one place. All of this is making the customers life easier and making them more likely to shop in-store as they can carry out multiple errands in one trip, which at the end of the day is what we all want!

With an increasingly large portion of retail sales coming from online, this new development may help shift behaviour from people shopping online, back to in-store.

Over the years we have seen the focus of supermarkets shift from exclusively selling food products to expanding into ever larger stores offering everything from clothes, bedding, household goods, electrical items, pharmacy products, books, you name it. In fact, I’d go as far as to say a lot of people don’t remember when supermarkets only sold food products.

Over the past few months we have also seen Tesco purchase a stake in Harris + Hoole coffee shops as well as making an investment in Euphorium Bakery. Furthermore, Asda has opened Timpson cobblers in a number of its stores and of course might now be the only real retail space where we can go and browse music – physically.

What these savvy supermarkets are doing is ensuring they have a strong point of difference which will encourage consumers to shop in-store, making them a choice destination where shoppers can shop and benefit from their multiple offerings. If this is successful, retailers will be effectively competing with online in ways that they cannot contend with.

The debate between online and the high street will rumble on, but I definitely see these moves by Asda and Tesco as extremely savvy ones. The online and digital retail space has been ahead in the race but I wouldn’t lose faith in our good old ‘shop’ just yet. My guess is that we will see similar purchases taking place throughout 2013 and no doubt more and more people in-store.


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