Visualizing The Supermarket of the Future

“Norman (Mayne, CEO of Dorothy Lane Market) is a truly unique merchant. He has a special ability to identify concepts and products that will enthrall customers. Furthermore, he has allowed his people to pursue these same ideals. The result: his stores are masterpieces!” – Danny Wegman, Chairman of Wegmans Food Markets

In multiple of my articles, I have consistently advocated that consumers and store associates as brand ambassadors plus immersive customer experiences are the future of retail. Growing up in the retail industry, it is always exhilarating observing these success elements in a live environment.

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of re-visiting one of my favorite stores in the world, Dorothy Lane Market (DLM) in the state of Ohio. This retail masterpiece celebrated 70 years of being in business in 2018.

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Our quick lunch visit into one of their locations evolved into an immersive two-plus hour visualization journey of the future supermarket. This post summarizes a few of the captured images and the memories they brought back from previously living in this part of the world.

Shopping at DLM Is a Global Experience
In the front of the store are six clocks showing current time around the world as a reminder that shopping is global. DLM shoppers build on the global team spirit by having their pictures taken at various sites around the world holding a Dorothy Lane Market shopping bag. Below is the current display of the global images from the store and on the right is my own personal contribution from several years ago from a winery in South Africa.

The most famous of these pictures was astronaut Gregory Johnson who took an image with the DLM bag from the space shuttle.

The Aisles Are Alive with the Sounds of Positive Experiences

The entrance is a visual invitation to shop till you drop.

Lots of fresh choices in the delicatessen.

The bakery invites you to try one of their famous brownies. I was tempted by the French baguette sandwiches.

Is there time for a fresh pizza from Naples?

The fresh produce display was amazing.

But the salad bar was our favorite and ended up providing our delicious lunch.

Too early in the morning, but the wine selection was inviting. Maybe we need to come back for one of their scheduled wine tastings.

And couple it with some great cheese samples. Yes, those are big wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano sourced by DLM in Italy.

Having just visited the Monet Gardens a few weeks earlier in France, the painter’s quote “I need flowers, always and always” was a pleasant surprise.

Being Italian, DLM had me salivating with the Pasta Night display.

Brand Ambassadors Are Everywhere

Positive retail experiences begin with engaged employees.

An excerpt from Customers Are People…The Human Touch by John McKean provides some insights on what it takes to build the pro-customer and pro-employees DLM culture:

“Every year, DLM sends seven to eight employees to Italy and France to research and select special food items that the team feels the customers would value, and, as a result would be happy to pay for the extra value. DLM’s cheesemongers regularly travel to Switzerland to select the fine cheeses for their cheese department. Norman also funded a trip for the associate who runs DLM’s meat department to a little town in Italy to work alongside the Italian butchers to learn about creative ways to cut as well combine different meats.”

“At Dorothy Lane Market, employees mean so much that they go ‘out of business’ for one day every year. Norman closes all the DLM stores for a day to hold an annual employee party. He makes sure that he communicates to the customer that although the customers mean a great deal to him, it is important for the customers to give this important day to the employees.”

In the store, every customer question or comment gets a personal answer.

No self-checkout at this front end.

The experiences are extended to the incredible Culinary School next door. We really enjoyed speaking to the individual preparing for the next class.

I am now visualizing that as the supermarket of the future, Dorothy Lane Market will soon deliver from Ohio to South Carolina.

When you are next in Dayton, Ohio, I would encourage you to visit Dorothy Lane Market because I agree with Danny Wegman—it is a retail masterpiece.

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