ShopAbility’s Alison Sinclair pays a visit to Coles Epping; with the advent of the Coles clothing offer in this store.
With the launch of the Mix clothing range within selected Coles stores we thought it was worth visiting Coles Epping to see how they would incorporate the new category into their store layout.
The first thing you notice when entering is a lack of traditional security barriers and trolley bays clogging the front entrance. The trolley bay is neatly located outside the store and there are no obvious barriers directing traffic giving the store an open and expansive feel.
As usual you enter into the fresh food department with all of the offers you would expect to see. There is a baker onsite and the offer is extensive. The meat, poultry and seafood offer is not as pronounced as it is in other new format stores but there is a reasonable specialty cheese selection available.
The fresh food offer is presented in the market style which both Coles and Woolworths have been rolling out across new format stores. With chalkboard style signage this section is nothing new. However, the main difference between the Coles offer and the recent Woolworths rollouts is the lighting. This store is well lit and feels much more open than the dark moody style Woolworths have been executing.
The next thing you notice in this store are the wide aisles. They give the store a feeling of space and make it very easy to shop and even browse. Multiple facings within a wide selection of categories helps shoppers navigate the shelf and find what they are looking for. There is also a store map attached to the fixture at both ends of each aisle helping shoppers find categories within the store.
The most obvious difference in this store is the Mix clothing offer which is located in the middle of the store offering predominately women’s clothing, some men’s and even some accessories. You feel like you are in a Big W store when you reach this section. The POS is even blue replicating the Big W offer. The clothes are basic as you would expect but there are people shopping the section so it is either appealing to them or they are just curious to see what is available.
There are two glaring omissions from this section. The first is children’s wear which is puzzling. I had definitely expected to find a children’s offer and would have thought it would be more popular than an adults range. The catalogue does not show any children’s wear but perhaps it is available in other stores. The second is a change room. While it is difficult to imagine someone pulling up their trolley full of groceries and heading into a change room within a supermarket to try something on it does seem strange not to have the option.
There are a number of new category executions in the store including extensive stationery, mobile phone and home entertainment offers as well as some exercise equipment not noticed previously in other stores.
The health and beauty aisle has interchangeable POS that feels like it belongs in a Priceline or Mass Merchant cosmetic section.
The freezer section at the far end of the store has signage to assist with navigation signposting the various frozen categories in shopper friendly segments (e.g. treats, entertaining and main meals).
Overall the store feels spacious with some great initiatives to help shoppers locate aisles, categories and products within the store. It is well lit and feels clean and pleasant to shop. There was however a lot of empty shelves for a Thursday morning indicating that there is either too much space allocated to some categories or poor shelf replenishment procedures in place. It’s a nice store and if you’re keen to see the Mix offer in store it is worth a visit.