By: Laurie Gethin, Director, Education, Food Marketing Institute

ESD Retail InterviewLast year, stories on ecommerce and the rise of Amazon dominated the media and stirred up conversation on the future of brick-and-mortar stores. Food retailers know that digital and mobile technology are influencing shoppers’ expectations for experiences and convenience. Meeting consumer needs will ultimately transform the size, layout and offering in retail spaces.

Top-of-mind for attendees at the 2017 Energy and Store Development (E&SD) Conference was how design trends and store formats are evolving to better serve the demands of consumers’ modern lifestyles. Bree Cooper, member of the E&SD  Committee and Director of Retail Initiatives at Hy-Vee, Inc., explains that trends drive innovation, and innovation drives store development.

"Innovation in retail programs goes hand-in-hand with the retail space. The interior (and exterior) have to shift and accommodate the new needs of a program, such as enhanced food service. The digital, physical, and now, emotional experience are developed together to get (and keep) the consumer in the retail environment,” Cooper stated.

As consumers increasingly use home delivery and click-and-collect shopping methods, it begs the question, “What will the role of store development be in the digital age of food retail?” Cooper indicated it’s a question that must be evaluated through business operations. How much of a warehouse should be dedicated to serving a company’s e-commerce distribution versus its physical retail space? 

“We discussed this topic during a roundtable at E+SD. It can be a healthy integration of both, but the challenge is how much do we operationally allocate to each shopping model,” Cooper said.

At times, the future of brick-and-mortar grocery stores can feel uncertain. E&SD keynote speaker Neil Stern of McMillan Doolittle LLP shared the viability of physical stores with E+SD attendees. Stern recognized that the future of retail is evolving and stressed the need for retailers to bring innovations into the retail environment through their stores.  

Cooper explained, “It’s the circle of life for the industry. For food retail, it’s finding the right mix of cost efficiencies, trend analysis, and education on the newest technologies that keep store development evolving with the modern lifestyle.” 

FMI’s Energy and Store Development Conference offers a blend of emerging industry trends with operations-focused programming to help attendees make decisions for the present and future of food retail. 

“The uniqueness of the grocery industry brings together a talented pool of retailer support teams, vendors, and suppliers at the FMI E&SD conference that is unmatched. It is a meeting of the minds where the daily competition is set aside for the benefit of the industry. The conference focuses on future trends related to retail and the impacts those trends have on the facilities.”

For more information on FMI’s 2018 Energy and Store Development Conference, visit

  • Store Development / Real Estate
  • Total Store Collaboration
  • Technology
  • Education