Tesco – arriving in a US neighborhood near you soon

From Craig Elston:

Tesco. The paragon of British retailing has been getting much press in the US as they prepare to launch their Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores in the American West.

That they generate so much coverage is of no surprise. Tesco has talked about entering the largest grocery market on the planet for some time. And I am in no doubt that they will be a success. Having been a customer of Tesco for as long as I can remember in the UK, their continual development of store formats and own label products will be welcome again in our house (when they get to Colorado).

The last five years or so of grocery shopping by our house in the UK was undertaken online. The fact that when you register on Tesco.com your eons worth of Clubcard data (i.e. things you have bought in the past) automatically make up your shopping list, meant there really was little need to actually go into a store for our family shop other than for something to do on a wet Saturday afternoon.

So it was a shock (and surprise) to come to the US, have to go shopping for groceries and find ourselves faced with such choice. Far too much choice in fact – it is completely overwhelming. There are these huge sheds of food products, often quite devoid of any people, in which you have to choose from so many options in every category.

And here-in lies what will probably be the key to success for Tesco; they are superb at editing. They have made it clear that each store will have a limited, edited set of SKUs. And no doubt each store will vary based on local demographic so that the SKU set is relevant.

Back in the UK, when I used to visit the Tesco Metro near my office in Soho at lunch time, its product range was very different to the product SKUs available in the Tesco Express by the tube station close to my home. But both were undeniably Tesco – high quality good value products. They just understand the neighborhood and the differences in the mindset of the shopper there. They then meet their needs through a highly edited set of products. Interestingly, it never felt like you weren’t getting a choice.

There is nothing to suggest that the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market concept won’t be the same. Nor that local residents won’t be flocking there in their droves.

More to come.