In a bid to modernize, compete with rivaling companies and improve the customer shopping experience, Stop & Shop, which operates approximately 414 locations along the Northeastern corridor, is going through a bit of a transformation – starting with its interior signage.

"The updates are aimed at making shopping more enjoyable for customers."

As reported by Supermarket News, Stop & Shop – a Quincy, Massachusetts-based grocer is recasting its layout and signage so customers have an easier time navigating sections, aisles and registers – with an aesthetically pleasing interior upgrade to boot. The renovations include, but aren't limited to, aisle markers, shelf talkers and floor graphics.

Mark McGowan, president of Stop & Shop, noted in a statement that as consumer purchase choices and shopping expectations change, the company and its workers aim to rise to what customers most want.

"We recognize that our customer is changing, and we're evolving our entire shopping experience to better serve them," McGowan explained, as quoted by Supermarket News. "They're focused on getting back to their lives, juggling many responsibilities, and we want to make grocery shopping even easier and faster for them."

The alterations to signage and layout won't come all at once, McGowan hastened to mention, with its Hartford, Connecticut stores – all 21 of them – getting the makeover treatment to start. Stop & Shop's 350-plus other locations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey will follow thereafter, although it's not known exactly when the upgrades will begin.

Grocers have online rivals
Part of the reason for the signage and layout modifications, aside from the motivations referenced by McGowan, derive from online competition, as more Americans are buying packaged goods, drinks, juices, meats and dairy by logging on to the internet. Indeed, according to the Food Marketing Institute, nearly 30 percent of consumers acknowledge having grocery shopped exclusively in online settings this year. That's up from 16 percent in 2015. Online grocery shopping is particularly common among millennials, who generally range between 18 and 38 years of age. More than 40 percent of millennials indicate they've joined the web-based food buying trend, with Generation Xers the next most common.

Stop & Shop aims to make the traditional brick-and-mortar purchase process more enjoyable for customers by, among other makeovers, widening its aisles, adding more details to hanging signs and enabling buyers to check out faster by installing self-service registers, Supermarket News reported.

The food store chain – whose beginnings trace back to 1892 in the Boston suburb of Somerville – is also adding special supplements to select locations, according to Progressive Grocer. For example, in Hartford, some of the stores there will feature in-store smokers, DIY machines that enable customers to mix their own dressings for meats and vegetables, smoothies bars and even kombucha fountains. Aisle violators will provide customers with directions as to where these sure-to-be crowd pleasers are located.

Latest changes in a series of them
In an increasingly competitive supermarket segment, Stop & Shop has gone through various operational shifts in recent years, some of which have led to closures in states where the chain used to be located. It no longer has stores in New Hampshire, for instance, pulling out of the Granite State officially in 2013. The grocery giant has opted instead to focus its energies to shopping centers in southern New England and the Atlantic region, primarily in New York and New Jersey.

The chain's recasting seems to have paid off, as Stop & Shop's parent company, Ahold Delhaize, ranked No. 4 on Progressive Grocer's 2018 Super 50 list, which grade the U.S.' best grocers.

All told, the upgrades at Stop & Shop are expected to cost over $70 million, Progressive Grocer reported.

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