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How do you attract return customers?

Give them a reason beyond groceries to come to your store

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Getting people into stores today is no easy feat. No wonder trips are down. From 2012 through 2013, the number of shopping trips by Canadians fell by four, to 174 trips per year, according to Nielsen’s Homescan Retailer Watch.

To keep customers coming back, supermarkets must add amenities that make a visit more enjoyable and useful.

“If stores are doing the job right, they’re getting regular customers to come in off-hours,” says Phil Lempert, the American grocery analyst known as the Supermarket Guru.

On the fun side, think music and–go figure–good food. Longo’s in Toronto brings in musicians to perform, holds cooking classes and, in several stores, has a full-service restaurant and bar, called Corks.

“People meet up at Corks. It’s a night out,” says Robert Koss, vice-president of marketing at Longo’s.

At the Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, customers can enjoy a “dine with the chef ”experience.

“It’s an entirely customized, four-course, gourmet meal prepared by the store’s executive chef, Mark Russell,” says Loblaw’s Julie Dunham.

Stores can also drive trips by focusing on health. Flu shots, smoking-cessation programs and nutrition education are some of the services offered by Metro pharmacies, says the retailer’s spokesperson, Geneviève Grégoire.

Metro also offers cooking classes and sit-down meals in a bistro setting at some stores.

Last year, Metro named Éric Côté VP of customer experience. His job, Grégoire says, is to “define and ensure the implementation of a distinctive shopping experience.”

One that shoppers will want to return to again and often.

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