Morrisons

recently opened a refreshingly innovative store that encourages good old fashioned food shopping in a clear yet theatrical fashion.

On their site at Preston Deepdale, Morrisons has revealed its latest Fresh Food warehouse. Billboards in Preston town centre advertise Morrisons’ second store in Preston –  an experimental (or ‘lab’) store with a focus on food. The site is opposite both Currys and PC World, with an easily-accessed standard surface car park, no parking restrictions and a petrol filling station at its entrance.

The convenience factor

On entering the store, small ‘Grab and Go’ and ‘Bloom’ sections sit behind pallets of products on offer, with three convenient self-scan machines.

Dramatically fresh

All this is rather overshadowed when you catch a glimpse of the fresh food area penned in by theatrical signage. I found this look rather impressive with its simple but dramatic design. There is nothing better to me than shopping made simple by clear and obvious directions. The low level fixtures allow an extensive range of produce to be displayed, and the warehouse style gives the store a spacious feel, allowing customers to enjoy sauntering around to browse products. The ‘From the Garden’ section no longer has the ‘misty veg’ concept.

The range of fresh food is impressive and advertised at very competitive prices. Pricing tended to be on all the packaging and the tags on the fixtures read ‘priced’ so you know where to look.

I love a good cheese and was spoilt for choice. The clear but standardised packaging and labelling made it easy to distinguish between the products rather than using fancy wrappers with a tendency to distract.

What else is there in store 

Their use of tall aisles makes it clear that you’re leaving the fresh food section, with wide aisles and stock pallets above. Morrisons have the idea of products being 100% available and maintain enough stock on the aisles for bulk buy deals.

The World Food aisle has an extensive and impressive range of products to cater for the ethnic demographics of the local area and to ensure the more adventurous ingredients are not missing.

Fridges and freezers border the edges of the ambient food section. They are clearly labelled above with colourful round signs which again adds to the ease of shopping which Morrisons is successfully managing to create. This design is bringing the convenience factor into the larger format stores and putting timid shopper into a comfort zone when they are looking for staple items.

There is a basic selection of products covering toiletries, household goods,  light bulbs, pet food, baby, electrical kitchen appliances, suitcases and bedding. The store clearly has a food focus but also caters for no frills general merchandise. Screens at the end of the aisles advertise products and offers.

Innovation at the checkout – the future or a step too far?

Till stations have tunnel scanners, designed to speed up the checkout process – however an extended conveyer belt after products have been scanned means it can be a struggle packing without having to shuffle back and forth from the checkout assistant, then you have to return up the belt to pay, which I think loses customer connection. There is a “swiper” so the next person can start the process even if you haven’t finished packing – which can make you feel rushed, instead of making you feel like the process is time efficient.

Is the 70′s style Morrisons’ café we all know and love a thing of the past?

An Argos style café sits behind the till stations where you order on a screen and pay then collect your items from the staff who then bring over your food when ready. Hot and cold drinks are self-service from designated machines, having only one machine for each can lead to a queue forming, even at relatively quiet times. There are limited but reasonably-priced choices on the menu with a particular focus on pizzas using the stone baked oven. The café is not particularly large but I assume Morrisons has gauged the amount of custom they expect to get.

Smile people

‘We want to make you SMILE’ is the slogan within the store which is stamped at various places and the customer service centre is branded ‘Smile Central’ which could irritate some but does exemplify the customer-centric ethos.

An innovative Morrisons store where the food focus and diverse range of fresh food products is a refreshing change from those superstores that no longer focus on the needs of the weekly food shopper. Clear signs and labelling together with wide aisles and a logical lay out make this store a friendly and clutter-free one-stop food shop which will appeal for all ages and backgrounds.