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Discovering one of the Top Stores to Visit in 2023 - Carulla FreshMarket

By Gemma Ní Maoltuile

Retail analysis experts IGD have just published a list of the "Top Stores to Visit in 2023," which features some of the most innovative stores worldwide. We are delighted that we had boots on the ground in Bogota, where Gemma visited one of those ranked in the Top 5 list, Carulla FreshMarket.

Innovative and customer-focused, the Carulla FreshMarket format debuted in 2018. It stands out due to its high-quality product offering and distinctive brand experience.

Here are a few things that make Carulla FreshMarket so unique:

Fresh Produce: Carulla FreshMarket is known for its wide selection of high-quality fresh produce. 90% of the fruit and vegetables sold at the store are grown nearby, demonstrating the supermarket's exceptional capacity for local sourcing. Contributing to the circular economy and reducing its environmental impact is a focus for the retailer.

The retailer advocates for Colombian farmers by buying directly from them. It is implementing a sustainable livestock model, which contributes to the conservation of ecosystems and animal welfare. From a shopper's perspective, it enables them to purchase products from cattle ranches committed to sustainability.

In-Store Experience: Carulla FreshMarket is a feast for the eyes. The store features bright, open spaces, large aisles, and various interactive displays and events, making it a fun and engaging place to shop. Combining a strong focus on health, sustainability and exciting design, to create a truly memorable shopping experience.

One standout is the freezer cabinet that is integrated into a vibrant decor car that attract the customers' attention. This product serves as a feature highlight for traditional chilled and frozen aisles, which often do not engage shoppers.

Communications and Community Involvement: Carulla FreshMarket are proud of their efforts when it comes to promotion of a healthy life and sustainability. This is reflective in their instore messaging, where they communicate messages around Circular Economy, Sustainable Trade, Human Rights, Healthy Life & Climate Change

Carulla FreshMarket is deeply committed to being a good community partner. The store regularly hosts events and activities designed to engage on education around. With the shopper in mind, emphasize sustainability, recycling, and lowering their carbon footprint.

Technology: Carulla FreshMarket is also tech-savvy and uses technology to enhance the customer experience. Another standout feature is the availability of cutting-edge checkout technologies like Smile ID (facial recognition payment) at a number of their stores. Shoppers pay for products using facial recognition and biometrics registered in the Carulla app.

Additionally, a Google Cloud-developed AI system called Fruver Scan automatically recognises products placed on the self-checkout scanner. Helping shoppers quickly register their products, speeding up the scanning process, and supporting biosecurity. According to Grupo Éxito, Carulla is the first supermarket to feature this technology in Latin America.

Source Grupo Exito
Source Grupo Exito

For the Greater Good - impact beyond their brand

Aside from their impressive in-store experience and passionate focus on freshness, they are genuine about their food waste. In mid-2022, Carulla created a colourful guide to show people how to store fruits and vegetables to keep them fresher, for longer. The guide identifies which fruits and vegetables to store together or separately, which would slow the ripening period and prevent premature spoiling.

One of the leading causes of fresh produce ripening and eventually rotting is ethylene gas, a natural gas given off by some fruits and vegetables. To boost awareness around this and educate people on how to avoid wasting food due to spoilage, the supermarket worked with expert nutritionists to contribute to the "Fresh System" initiative.

How does it work?

Quite simply, but extremely smart. First, Carulla classifies fruits and vegetables into two groups: those that produce more ethylene and those that produce less. The "Fresh System" guide, available on Carulla's digital channels and social media networks, outlines the ideal at-home storage methods for the fresh produce available at their supermarkets. For instance, want fresher tomatoes? Store them next to apples. "Fresh System" even identifies the optimal storage location for each product – whether stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator or the freezer.

Bringing it alive in stores

The store organises produce according to the "Fresh System" in Carulla supermarkets, with signage explaining the ideal storage placements, encouraging customers to replicate these at home. Aligning with the product classification, delivery of online orders follows suit with labels to inform how to store the items best.

Sharing a significant impact, the "Fresh System" with its competitors to further help reduce food waste around the world. We LOVE this!

Campaign of the Week: Carulla, Fresh System | Contagious

Overall, Carulla FreshMarket is a remarkable retail store setting a new standard for customer-focused retail design. They have put much thought and care into creating a brand experience that is truly unique and enjoyable for customers. We're glad we got to see it first in 2023.

At TapCreative we design brand experiences that challenge convention, disrupt categories, and drive brand growth, enabling you to connect with your customer in more meaningful ways.

Gemma Ní Maoltuile is the Business Development Director of TapCreative.

She helps brands realise their ambition by understanding their needs and identifying opportunities.

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