It's become common in grocery retailing circles to hear a new CEO announce that he or she intends to get a business turned around by cleaning up stores, emphasizing fresh foods and staffing stores with friendly associates. The problem, as pointed out in many discussions on this site, is that those elements are the minimum requirement to open a store's door for business these days.
Refreshingly, Beth Newlands Campbell, CEO of Food Lion since December, admitted in an interview with The Charlotte Observer that the supermarket chain will need to do a lot more than the basics to compete with rivals ranging from Aldi to Whole Foods.
"There's an imperative to set us apart," she told the Observer. "You can't be middle of the road."
One of Food Lion's selling points, according to Ms. Newlands Campbell, is the size of its stores. At an average of around 35,000 square-feet, they are more easily navigated than the big boxes operated by many of Food Lion's competitors. She said Walmart's focus on smaller stores is proof that consumers are looking for a more manageable shopping experience.
She also believes Food Lion can gain fans by improving its checkout execution. The chain is not there yet, she said.
Where is the biggest opportunity for grocery stores to differentiate in the marketplace?