Retailers

Organics, Nutrition, Education Converge in Raley’s Store of the Future

Photograph courtesy of O-N-E Market

For Raley’s, the future of grocery is now. Having opened its first Raley’s O-N-E Market focused on product transparency and nutrition education in Northern California last June, the grocer recently revealed it would convert all of its more than 125 existing stores into O-N-E Markets, beginning with its El Dorado Hills, Calif., store. 

But if one thing is certain about the pace of this thoughtful transformation, it’s that it will not be rushed.

O-N-E Market, an acronym for Raley’s brand pillars of organics, nutrition and education, is as much about what’s in-store as what isn’t. The banner prides itself on “a highly curated assortment of products that are fresh, nutritious, organic when possible, minimally processed and sustainably sourced,” says the company. The stores exclude products with ingredients on the Raley’s O-N-E Market banned ingredients list, such as high fructose corn syrup; artificial preservatives, flavors and sweeteners; and hydrogenated fats and oils. This better-for-you product assortment is supported by a knowledgeable staff, trained by a Raley’s nutrition adviser.

The 39,000-square-foot El Dorado Hills location marks Raley’s first conversion of an existing store to the O-N-E Market concept. To accommodate the conversion, the store closed for five days. As the West Sacramento, Calif.-based grocer prepares to embark on an ambitious—and thoughtful—chainwide conversion process, each store transformation is an opportunity for growth.

“As this was our first conversion, we learned a lot,” says Keith Knopf, Raley’s president and CEO. “We now know we can do the changeover in three days, not five. We proved that we can manage pharmacy and e-commerce during the changeover period. We validated the ‘communication booth’ was helpful to customers, and much more.”

To smooth the transition while the store was temporarily closed, Raley’s set up a “communications booth” outside the entrance of the store, where its team members could interact with customers who, unaware of the conversion, had arrived to shop. The team answered questions, shared information, distributed giveaways and gave customers a coupon to shop the nearest alternate Raley’s location.

Knowledge Is Power

As part of O-N-E Market’s commitment to transparency and education, El Dorado Hills team members received initial training from Raley’s Nutrition Strategist and Brand Influencer Yvette Waters. The grocer also has an ongoing education program in place to support its team’s understanding of each department’s standards and assist customers in personalizing their shopping experience.

“All team members received initial training from a registered dietitian and will receive ongoing education from the store’s designated nutrition adviser. This creates knowledgeable team members who can serve as a resource for our customers,” says Knopf. “Their training enables them to provide product recommendations, speak to the product standards and assist customers in navigating the offerings of their new store. They also have several tools at their disposal, like iPads with Aisle7 software that provide in-depth science-based health information.”

The new O-N-E Market strives to meet consumers with information and education whenever and wherever they shop.

"The ‘E’ in the O-N-E acronym in Raley’s O-N-E Market stands for education so we are fully committed to using all our available channels to share our nutrition knowledge with our customers."

“The ‘E’ in the O-N-E acronym in Raley’s O-N-E Market stands for education so we are fully committed to using all our available channels to share our nutrition knowledge with our customers,” notes Knopf. 

Raley’s website lists its product standards and information about its banned ingredients list, while its product standards are also clearly displayed on in-store signage in each department.

“Like in all our stores, we also offer transparency at the shelves with our Raley’s Shelf Guide and sugar awareness shelf tags,” he adds. “Our Shelf Guide attributes can be used to filter the items you see when shopping online as well. Finally, our knowledgeable and registered dietitian-trained team members are crucial to educating our customers.” 

On a mission “to change the way the world eats one plate at a time,” Raley’s, in recent years, has eliminated private label sugar-sweetened sodas, removed tobacco products, sourced 100% sustainable fresh seafood, implemented better-for-you check stands, promoted awareness of added sugar and launched Raley’s Shelf Guide to help shoppers make healthier choices.

Raley’s has charted this progress and more in a newly released first annual Impact Report, highlighting the organization’s actions in 2020 to support its purpose of changing the way the world eats. 

“Our first Impact Report exemplifies our team’s dedication to prioritizing purpose over profit and our commitment to serving multiple bottom lines,” said Knopf in a statement. “We are committed to being more than a grocery store, so it is both rewarding and humbling to see the progress we were able to make this past year to change the way the world eats and positively impact the communities we serve.”

As detailed in the report, Raley’s efforts and initiatives in 2020 were aimed at nourishing its purpose, people, communities and the planet. In addition to opening the first Raley’s O-N-E Market and its first conversion store, the company says it has continued outpacing the competition in sales of better-for-you items in categories such as clean label, grain-free, non-GMO, keto, plant-based, organic and nutrient dense.

Raley’s O-N-E Market in El Dorado Hills is also home to the newest feature of the grocer’s loyalty program: Something Extra Health. This program offers free classes, store tours, nutrition coaching, personalized supplement recommendations and more all led by a nutrition adviser.

Deeper Departments

And the extras don’t end there.

The newly transformed O-N-E Market in El Dorado Hills further features a bountiful beauty and wellness section, an expansive wine department, a healthier checkout experience and The Something Extra Gather room, which provides loyalty program members in the community with a free place to host meetings, book clubs, birthday parties or any other occasion.

“The Something Extra Gather room is part of our commitment to being more than a grocery store,” says Knopf. “We believe positive social connection and feeling part of a community is important, and we designed these store attributes to make that more likely and possible.”

A Natural Beauty store-within-a-store—which provides a lifestyle shopping experience for those seeking health and beauty products that are free from artificial preservatives, colors, aluminum, parabens, phthalates and sulfate or are hypoallergenic, Cruelty Free-certified and Rainforest Alliance-certified—is another must-shop facet of the newly transformed O-N-E Market.

"We believe health and wellness extends beyond what you put in your body to include what you put on your body, so our banned ingredients list includes the health and beauty section."

“We believe health and wellness extends beyond what you put in your body to include what you put on your body, so our banned ingredients list includes the health and beauty section,” says Knopf, who adds that while “all future conversions may not include the store-within-a-store concept that’s in El Dorado Hills, the product standards will remain the same.”

Even the wine department at Raley’s O-N-E Market takes a next-level, better-for-you approach.

“We offer a section of more health-conscious wine brands, such as FitVine. This area features a number of options that are lower in calories and sugar,” Knopf says. “The imported wine selection is nearly double the size of the assortment found at a typical Raley’s, and we have an expanded assortment of luxury wines sourced from Napa and Sonoma as well.”

 And with Raley’s O-N-E Market’s better-for-you check stands, nobody leaves the store with a negative impression.

“We have made incremental changes to our check stands in all stores over the years to move our customers toward better-for-you products,” Knopf says. “In 2016, we eliminated sugar-sweetened soda and reduced the overall candy offerings, providing alternative beverage options and snacks. Then, in 2018, we fully eliminated conventional candy and reduced the overall candy offerings by 25%, replacing it with an enhanced selection of snack options that consider nutritional value, portion control and sugar content.

“Our better-for-you check stands currently include items such as jerky, olives, nuts and seaweed snacks. Many of the products meet Raley’s Shelf Guide attributes, and everything in our Raley’s O-N-E Market check stands aligns with our banned ingredients list,” he adds.

A Bright Future

What’s next for Raley’s O-N-E Market? “Our plan is to transform all our stores in time, including Bel Air Markets and Nob Hill Foods,” says Knopf. Currently, Raley’s is converting an existing Raley’s to a O-N-E Market in Reno, Nev., on May 1, and opening a new location in Roseville, Calif., in 2022.

“Beyond that, the pace of transformation will be guided by our purpose and aligned with customer preference,” says Knopf. “We need to learn from our conversions in El Dorado Hills and Reno. After that, I think we could accelerate quickly. While there is still much to be learned and understood, I would anticipate our portfolio converting in the range of three to seven years.”

That’s plenty of time to get the journey right. 

“We believe that the future of food will increasingly include emphasis on nutrition. And nutrition is vital to living a healthy and more fulfilled life,” continues Knopf. “We recognize each consumer is on a personal journey. I am proud that Raley’s will be part of the consumer journey by being both relevant in the present as well as the future.”

WANT BREAKING NEWS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS?

Get today’s need-to-know grocery industry intelligence. Sign up to receive texts from Winsight Grocery Business.

Trending

More from our partners