Chief executive Steven Cain said the store had been personalised to the needs of local shoppers, including a number of locally sourced specialty products.
“We are committed to provide the very best food and drink solutions to our customers and this store in St Kilda has been designed to appeal to the interests and lifestyles of local residents,” he said.
[We want to] be on the leading edge of innovation, so you’ll see lots of stuff in here you wouldn’t see at normal Coles.
Coles’ general manager of store development Jon Haggett
Via a series of interviews with customers, along with data from Coles’ flybuys system, it found customers in the area are more likely to be in single or two-person households, predominantly vegan or vegetarian, and a dog owner.
In light of this, over 1400 new products have been packed into the 1500 square metre space, including the company’s largest vegan and vegetarian range.
Jon Haggett, Coles’ general manager of store development, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald the company had drawn much of its inspiration from visits to the Amazon-owned Whole Foods chain in the US and other international grocers such as Carrefour and Loblaws.
“We’re trying to use the Coles local concepts to be on the leading edge of innovation, so you’ll see lots of stuff in here you wouldn’t see at normal Coles,” he said.
This gives the supermarket a chance to test out certain concepts – such as a pineapple coring machine – to potentially roll out into its fleet of standard stores.
But shoppers in fringe suburbs will likely have to travel to get their pineapples cored. Coles’ first two Local stores sit comfortably within some of Australia’s wealthiest areas, and Mr Haggett says that will probably always be the case.
“We probably wouldn’t put a Coles Local in a lower socioeconomic zone, we’d just do a small-format store instead,” he said.
The retailer was tight-lipped on the number of Local stores it planned to roll-out but noted it would target locations where existing stores were underperforming.
A number of Australian retailers have been embarking on convenience-focused strategies over the last 12 months, including fellow supermarket Woolworths which recently partnered with service station Caltex to put tiny supermarkets in petrol stations.
Woolworths is also set to open an additional 15-30 of its small-format Metro stores over the medium term.
Even non-food retailers are jumping in on the trend, with electronics seller JB Hi-Fi recently opening a small-format store in Southgate, just 68 square metres and with a curated selection of products.
Dominic Powell writes about the retail industry for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.