Half a year ago Kaufland announced a major refurbishing programme for Germany, with other Central European countries such as Romania, Czech Republic and Poland also prescribed a ‘Facelift’. As LZ Retailytics previously reported, the new concept aims to create a more pleasant shopping atmosphere, which is supported by major changes to the floor plan, new equipment comprising lower shelves, closed wall-chillers, better lighting and more upmarket decor as well as a new customer guidance system.
LZ Retailytics visited a newly revamped Kaufland in Northern Poland to assess its competitiveness in a retail environment dominated by discounters and proximity formats.
A chiller with food-to-go ranges welcomes the customer right at the store entrance and the new grey-clad bakery is now located in the main customer flow right behind the decluttered fruit & vegetable department. Next the ‘Aleja Zdrowia’ (‘Health Aisle’) offers free-from and organic items from the FMCG ranges. Beside this the pick & mix food concept has vanished, and all frozen product ranges have been moved close to the checkout, a sector formerly reserved for ice cream.
Non-food categories after the revamp show clearer layouts and have been grouped together around a dedicated promotional space in the centre towards the back of the store, emphasizing Kaufland’s claim as an (almost) full-range provider in the hypermarket channel.
Kaufland Poland is the retailer's trailblazer for serviced fresh counters. Accordingly, recent changes in comparison to those of other country operations are largely cosmetic, with obvious adaptations including a separate section branded ‘Regionalna Półka’ (‘Regional Shelf’) for sausages, cured meats and bakery products. In contrast to channel competitors, speciality fresh assortments such as K-veggie, K-Exquisit and items with protected designation of origin (PDO) had until now remained almost invisible in the standard range.
Technology-wise the new LED lighting contributes significantly to an overall improved shopping experience, with special spots illuminating fresh areas, the main aisles and focus categories such as cosmetics, confectionery and alcohol. As a striking modification the giant price posters formerly dominating the look of the fruit & vegetable section have been replaced by discreet electronic shelf labels and made way for hanging lamps, which noticeably shifts attention towards the merchandise.
The most obvious tech novelty, however, can be found in the checkout line. Some of the traditional tills have been replaced by six self-checkouts allowing for cash and card payments. Also, standard checkouts now are shorter, ending – discounter style – directly behind the till, at exactly the same height as the new, smaller shopping trolleys.
If Kaufland were a sports car, the latest facelift could be classified as successful. The new model's design and driving comfort are clearly one notch up from the previous version. As with an aging vehicle model Kaufland in Poland was running the risk of getting lost between discounters and proximity formats chipping away from below and channel peers like Carrefour occupying upmarket positions. With the latest concept adaptations, the retailer is catching up, reflecting evolving customer preferences.
However, if you expected the new concept to be a commercial revolution, you would possibly be disappointed. From a category view the assortment has not yet matured to levels presented at channel peers like Carrefour or Auchan. A large part of the regional, food-to-go and health items has been drawn together from other corners of the layout, making the new additions to the assortment stand out. This also applies for shelf hot faces where Kaufland shows assortment competence, displaying specialty or brand items (e.g. capsules and beans for coffee, olives and antipasti for canned goods, Lindt for chocolates and Tarczyński for sausages, among others). Product lines that are already established in Germany, such as K-take it veggie, K-Classic lactose-free, K-Exquisit and K-Bio to date are virtually invisible in Polish outlets. Therefore, we would expect a more pronounced commercial aspect of the revamp to manifest only later this year.
Kaufland’s remodelling on first sight seems more of a cosmetic remake, but closer examination shows that the banner stays true to its discount roots. The removal of the middle shelf in combination with department pictograms and colour-coding make for much easier in-store navigation, effectively helping to locate sought-after items. Electronic shelf labels in the fruit & vegetable section simplify price changes. This is helpful especially for a retailer, that has implemented ‘Tagesartikel’ (‘Daily Items’) that, as a standard, are sold out at the end of the day. Connected to this, flowers and plants now are placed directly in front of the checkout line, earlier running the risk of obstructing the store entrance and getting damaged during the shopping process. In the same area customers now can find the frozen category placed in its entirety by the checkouts, reducing defrosting time. Last but not least, the information desk, formerly at the store entrance, is now located in the middle of the checkout zone next to the self-service cash terminals, saving staffing costs and ensuring immediate customer support if needed.
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