Challenges and opportunities
Customer shopping behaviour, particularly at foodservice departments, changed significantly during the first lockdown earlier this year. At that time, customers were particularly cautious about being in queues for service and were careful about maintaining social distance and adopting hygiene measures.
“INTERSPAR managed to build trust through massive investment in health care measures, including free masks, disinfectant dispensers, and hygiene precautions that are visible to customers”, said Markus Kaser.
These steps and the unique range available from fresh foodservice counters, combined with the high quality of service shoppers are used to from INTERSPAR Hypermarkets led to an improvement in foodservice department sales.
Markus Kaser highlighted that in crises, customers look for trust and therefore resort to well-known brands – in the case of INTERSPAR, particularly to familiar, affordable and high-quality SPAR Own Brand products.
Online shopping at INTERSPAR
In addition to customer trust, the availability of an online shopping platform proved to be a competitive advantage during the COVID-19 crisis. The INTERSPAR online shops, combined with INTERSPAR shopping services and staffed receptions in the hypermarkets, enable customers to have a perfect shopping experience with a simple mouse-click: customers can simply order their groceries and non-food products online and pick up the order instore or have it delivered at home.
Focus on regional
Regional products have become increasingly important for customers when making a purchase decision. In that area, SPAR Austria benefits from the regional structure of its store network and regional sourcing.
For more than 10 years, INTERSPAR has offered products sourced from local suppliers close to its stores under the theme “The best from home!”. This range has proven to be extremely successful and is being constantly expanded. Initially, the range offered traditional Austrian food products, including fruit juices, bread and fish. It has been expanded in recent years to include near-food items and, for example, also skincare products from local producers.
“As of this year, we have started to source products from local suppliers for our filling stations implemented in the hypermarkets in Salzburg-Europark and Nussdorf-Debant. These are organic pods and organic dried fruit. Overall, we are very satisfied with the product and sales development, as well as with the demand for local products”, commented Markus Kaser.
The development of innovative filling stations for dry food, including dried fruits, rice and cereals is unique in the Austrian food trade and has been very well received by customers. These filling stations differ from traditional systems as the bins are filled from the top but emptied from the bottom, and this ‘first in, first out’ system ensures an optimal shelf life of the food products.
Supporting young entrepreneurs
As part of the “Young & Urban” initiative, SPAR and INTERSPAR offer start-ups a great opportunity for partnership on an equal footing.
“Under this strong umbrella brand, we introduce start-ups from a wide variety of sectors – from food to non-food – to customers and use our comprehensive marketing tools to promote awareness and create sales opportunities”, continued Kaser.
Products can either be sold on a local level in individual stores through the “The best from home!” initiative or listed in SPAR and INTERSPAR stores nationwide, depending on the size and potential of the start-ups.
Read more news from SPAR Austria.
About SPAR Austria
The origins of SPAR in Austria date back to 1954, but the current SPAR AG was created in 1970 when the original founding families joined with other regional wholesalers to form SPAR Austria AG – a 100% privately owned Austrian company.
With licences granted by SPAR International, ASPIAG (Austria SPAR International AG) has also developed SPAR in Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, and Northern Italy.