A Humanized Hypermarket

U.K. supermarket chain Tesco has changed tack at its new Extra concept, with the large-format store scaled to a human level designed to be homey, helpful and digitally enhanced.

By By Mark Faithfull

U.K. supermarket giant Tesco has created a friendlier and more contemporary take on its traditional hypermarket format at its revamped store in Swansea, Wales. The new format, dubbed Tesco Extra, was developed by Swedish design agency BLINK alongside Tesco’s in-house design team and the retailer’s long-term partner and corporate identity group Wolff Olins. The goal? To break this large, 89,000-sq.-ft. store into more manageable and approachable parts, designed around shopping missions.

Alongside the usual full-range grocery and household goods offer, the concept includes digital services, a more personal approach and simplified shopping to cater to different needs. Inside, while it is still a large footprint store, the interior is marked by an attempt to create a more human scale, both in its architecture and its tone of voice.

To achieve this, there is a fresh market at the store’s center, designed to offer a “feast for the senses.” Signage, with messages in both English and Welsh, enhances the more personal feel, while the design offers what the retailer calls “intuitive customer journeys” that make the different shopping missions more convenient. There also is a community center space adjacent to the in-store café.

The revamped store integrates digital services, such as click-and-collect, mobile self-scan, in-store interactive screens, and a more convenient shopping experience for customers buying take-out food. But the new format is principally designed with the intention to take the interior from “big, bold and cold” to “big, bold and homey.” Richard Kylberg, founder of BLINK, says this is how the agency describes the big idea: “Welcome to the Tesco Extra food shopping experience, big on the outside—inspiring, homey and helpful on the inside. The overall experience is more foodie and human scale.”

A focus on the customer resonates throughout the store. “We are in an unplanned, planned world. How many people now actively book a taxi, rather than using an app? So the biggest challenge in an omnichannel world is how to solve [the customer’s] latent attention deficit,” explains Adrian Letts, managing director of Tesco Online, of the approach taken by the retailer. “The No. 1 reason shoppers choose a store is the choice and price of fresh food. For online, that’s exactly the same. The second is convenience of location. In effect, for us the store is now very much about logistics and a ‘chilled, forward-deployed inventory.’”

That focus on food means that the new layout welcomes customers into a modern food hall with high-level brand statements of bread, fish and meat framing the produce department with low-level produce presentation.

Kylberg says that the new store design was conceived to deliver on five strategic pillars: brand, value, quality and freshness, service and helpfulness, and convenience.

“In terms of brand, if you are big and strong, you also need to be nice and kind to be liked,” Kylberg explains. “That was our perspective when developing the tone of voice. We [strove] for a more human scale and personal approach; less shouting, and more dialogue with local flavor. For example, high-level navigation in Welsh.”

For value, a quality communication layer has been added as part of the value communication, and Tesco has added bulky promotional disruptions. For quality and freshness, the produce sets the fresh tone of the store, and dramatizing food craftsmanship through staff interacting with customers.

Improved service and helpfulness has been made part of the brand architecture and customer journey, including the creation of a contemporary community center out of the café/community room. Finally, in terms of convenience, a “purchase help system” is designed around curated customer journeys and missions.

“We took away the ‘Every Little Helps’ [Tesco’s corporate message] across the façade, because it feels like shouting, turned the information/complaints desk into a service center with fitting rooms for online pick-ups, and added a free community center that you can book for cooking classes, knitting and so on,” Kylberg says. “The color red has been used as a help/service signal, with red help and service stations throughout the store, plus red detailing in employee clothing.”

The new design has also made it possible to carry out convenience shopping without having to walk the whole store. “This involved moving the bread department, while fitting rooms have been integrated into the service center, so that online shoppers can try out sizes directly and return them if needed,” Kylberg adds.

As part of this improved offer, the hot food-to-go menu offer includes a wide range of products, including whole chickens, chicken portions, pastries, ribs, pizzas, hot sandwiches and paninis.

The Tesco Extra pilot store opened in Swansea in June 2017 and the remodeled store is delivering a significantly higher profit, according to BLINK.


project file

Tesco Extra
Swansea, Wales

Tesco Extra, Swansea, Wales

BLINK, Wolff Olins, Tesco in-house design team

Information in the project file is provided by the retailer and/or design firm.

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