Smaller, nearer, faster are retail’s next big thing


Retail today must entail smaller, smarter and more specialized concepts. It needs to move to the where the people work and live and provide them with context-specific curated assortments and services. Put differently: retail needs to move closer to customers by creating new hubs for easier interaction, new experiences and better service. These hubs should also be leveraged as living labs where brands test, learn and constantly evolve at the pace of consumers.




The German supermarket chain ALDI is testing ‘corner stores’. Instead of their known discounter assortment these smaller store formats offer poducts such as sushi, freshly pressed orange juice and barista coffee. The first store following this concept was opened in Syndney. To fit its urban target customer it was designed in collaboration with local artists, used industrial materials and employs self-scanning checkout.

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We developed “Ship from Store” and our ordering service to fulfill customer requests faster, better and possibly even more environmentally friendly. We routed the orders to the store closest to the customers. We developed the concepts in cooperation with our employees on the ground and not over their heads. In this manner, the local retailers can engage with our online customers and, at best, “transform” them into omnichannel customers. These bring us significantly greater added value because the share of wallet is highest here. To this end, we are also developing further ideas with our partners to make the entire online and marketplace range available to our customers in their local Fressnapf store.

Benjamin Beinroth


Today, supermarkets tend to resemble “big warehouses” where you easily get lost, waste time trying to find what you’re looking for, and end up queuing at the checkout in a bad mood and frustration – usually with little cordiality post-payment. The customer usually experiences little appreciation when leaving, as mindful service, empathetic staff and intuitive parking solutions are absent. This represents wasted potential in terms of customer retention and currently there is still a lot of room for improvement to ensure that stores remain competitive – also in regard to e-commerce or delivery services.

How can you as a medium-sized retailer fully cover the German market at present? Going into smaller stores with different concepts – with the most important collections and perhaps a bit of a sale – is perhaps the way to go. And everything else then takes place online and is also available for delivery within 24/48h, everything in the interplay of store and app, that’s our goal.

It remains a niche, especially in terms of the food industry, because at the end of the day, “small” means small spaces, so it is difficult to represent the assortments, the variety of needs that customers have. Yes, there is a need for people who no longer want to drive around, not even to greenfield sites. But that will be handled by deliveries and not so much by the small stores. Yes, the small stores will emerge the there will be more discounters in the city centre. But in the sense of “the next big thing”? No.

Small and near is always pleasant and gives a feeling of being “at home”. I tend to associate speed with online shopping. When I’ m in a physical space, I like to take my time to discover and enjoy. By that I mean inspiration of all kinds, and I like to do that over a delicious espresso or soup of the day. My “Kietz” with individual small stores offers me emotions, relaxation and I am excited to meet people I know and to be addressed personally by name in the store.

In any case, spaces are shifting, becoming vacant more quickly, so stores are now changing much faster, with potential for new concepts. This also brings shopping in the local environment with a connection to the local community more to the focus.

Bettina Zimmermann

Ganter Interior

I would add the word “more personal” and “service” to the thesis. It is the personal and direct communication that makes brick-and-mortar retail so special. In addition, we need to consider the notion of “more regional”. Customers are longing for something special and they want to be served in a personalized way. It also has something to do with having a good experience: I’m being treated well here. This has become particularly true in times of globalization, in which so many things have become interchangeable.

Angela Krause

Deutscher Ladenbauverband

We have learned that proximity and interaction with a customer is more important than satisfying the product need.

Andreas Hauff

Kriton Immobilien

For smaller, closer and faster, I would replace faster with more comfortable. Closer and smaller also means more sustainable. I don’t have one huge warehouse, but I have many small warehouses spread across Germany and supply customers from there. The rest is done by delivery services with electrically powered fleets. This ensures convenience for the customer.

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