- Dollar General is launching a new store concept called Popshelf, which will open 30 new stores by the end of 2021.
- Chief merchandising officer Emily Taylor spoke to Business Insider about the new brand in 2020.
- “Our focus with Popshelf was really around fun,” Taylor told Business Insider.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In its Thursday earnings call, Dollar General announced its intent to open 30 new Popshelf stores by the end of 2021. This story was originally published October 10, 2020.
Dollar General is opening up a new store concept called Popshelf, a brand targeted toward younger, higher-earning suburbanites, a contrast to the target demographic of the company’s namesake chain.
Popshelf represents Dollar General’s latest push to redefine itself and emerge as a retail powerhouse. The company has also doubled down on fresh grocery sales via its flagship chain, an expensive departure from its dollar store roots. Throughout this period of change, Dollar General has continued to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic, as economic woes push shoppers to seek out low prices.
Business Insider spoke with the company’s chief merchandising officer Emily Taylor about the new concept. She said Popshelf will focus on discretionary categories like home decor, housewares, party supplies, seasonal and holiday items, arts and crafts, and toys. Taylor said that the concept’s target customer is slightly younger than the average Dollar General shopper. Popshelf’s core demographic is also likely to skew more suburban and higher income than its dollar store counterpart.
“We embarked on a lot of customer research to determine if there was an opportunity,” Taylor told Business Insider. “What we found is this combination of low price point with these discretionary categories.”
While its core demographic may differ from that of Dollar General, Popshelf won’t stray far from its parent company’s focus on low prices. Taylor said that 95% of the items on Popshelf’s shelves will be $5 or less. And three-quarters of the store’s stock will be $3 or less. Popshelf will apply a “treasure hunt” strategy to its stock, offering shoppers an ever-changing mix of products for a limited time.
When it comes to store design, Taylor said that the concept centers around the idea of providing customers with a “fun and stress-free experience.” That means that clutter will be reduced, aisles will have an open feel, and the overall store will be designed with navigation in mind.
Different categories will be showcased via “engaging displays” to give shopper “a store within a store feel.”
“The intent is to get the customer to interact with the product on shelf, and really make it more of a fun, inspirational shopping trip,” Taylor said. “When our customer leaves the store, we want them to really feel like they were able to treat themselves, and enjoy a really fun environment without the guilt, because of those low prices.”
Taylor said the idea for Popshelf has been brewing at Dollar General for nearly two and a half years, as executives contended with lagging sales growth in non-consumable products. The dollar store chain previously launched a non-consumable initiative in order to reverse the trend. After initial “success” with the initiative, Taylor said that the company began to consider building an entire concept around non-consumable items.
“What we found in talking to the customers who over-index in some of those categories is that this customer will likely be different from the Dollar General customer,” Taylor said. “But to be clear that wasn’t the starting point. It was sort of an outcome based on what we’ve seen so far in, in which customers over-index.”
The first two Popshelf locations will open in the northern suburbs of Nashville, in Hendersonville and Clarksville. Taylor described both stores as being situated within “high traffic retail centers.” A total of 30 Popshelfs are set to open by the end of the next fiscal year, as the company continues its “test and learn period.” Taylor said that Dollar General will keep a close watch on not only store sales, but which categories are resonating with Popshelf customers.
Taylor said the company is not concerned about launching Popshelf in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, home decor sales have consistently soared as consumers remain stuck at home and unable to sink money into travel.
“When we started to develop this concept, no one could have guessed what was in front of us in 2020,” she said. “When you look at the current environment, some of the categories in the discretionary areas are actually seeing an uptick right now.”
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