Shopping at the recently revamped Tesco Extra store in Watford is an experience. The vast 80,000 sq. ft store has been completely renovated to include outlets from Tesco’s expanding portfolio of investments, including Harris + Hoole and Giraffe, as well as a complete reconfiguration of its overall store layout. Tesco is expressing clear intent here, repositioning stores as destination zones, where customers can go to grab a coffee and socialise, instead of just doing a weekly shop.

As such, Tesco aims to offer customers another purpose to visit the store, and hence profit from new revenue streams. Integrating technology into the shopping experience is also apparent here with, amongst other things, digital screens showing enticing cocktail recipes in the drinks section, and a misty, Alien-esque cooling system for the fresh vegetables. I liked the use of digital services such as Click & Collect and Scan & Go in store which integrated the online and offline shopping experience too. Yet what struck me most whilst walking through the store was the definition of the layout, which gave the impression of walking through a bustling town centre instead of a giant supermarket.

The clarity of these spaces generated a sense of variety which maintained interest throughout. And this is exactly Tesco’s intention. This “store of the future” feels like a reaction to the trend of consumers shopping online more and more, and in store less and less. Increasingly, online shopping is offering consumers a more convenient way to shop, and as such, bricks and mortar retailers must look to generate an experience for shoppers that adds value and makes them want to come in store. Whether transforming a food shop into a richer experience will prove lucrative for Tesco remains to be seen. However, retailers could do worse than look to Tesco’s “store of the future” for inspiration.

(Originally posted on The Value Engineers blog on September 13, 2013)