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Alfa Sartori | 24 January 2024

Mastering the retail-restaurant blend: strategies for a unified experience

Mastering the retail-restaurant blend: strategies for a unified experience

To thrive in today's retail landscape, traditional brick-and-mortar stores are undergoing a crucial transformation to stay relevant amid the rise of online shopping. This shift involves the creation of "multi-concept" shops, seamlessly merging food service, retail, and other innovative offerings to generate fresh revenue streams. Moving into this model brings about new processes and challenges, whether a retailer enters the food business or a restaurant delves into retail, this transition demands the right business management technology to ensure seamless and efficient operations.

Success stories: leading the way and changing dynamics

Major players like IKEA and Eataly showcase the success of the retail-restaurant hybrid model. IKEA seamlessly integrates a popular restaurant in every store, evolving from a strategy to prolong customer stays into a lucrative revenue stream. Notably, one in three customers now visits IKEA primarily for the food, according to Business Insider. Eataly replicates this success globally by combining a well-stocked supermarket with diverse in-house dining options, demonstrating the potential of this fusion to create a unique and profitable customer experience.

Offering more than just products, retailers are creating immersive experiences that go beyond online capabilities, meeting the demand for active customer engagement.

Take the iconic Hard Rock Cafe as a prime example. Seamlessly blending retail with in-store dining, the restaurant's rock 'n' roll ambiance and extensive music memorabilia collection offer a unique encounter. Patrons can not only enjoy a meal but also purchase branded merchandise, fostering a deeper connection with the brand.

Other notable brands like Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Urban Outfitters echo this trend. Starbucks, a global coffeehouse chain, provides a space for customers to enjoy beverages and snacks. Barnes & Noble houses cafes, offering a cozy environment for coffee and book exploration. Urban Outfitters incorporates cafes, allowing customers to relax with a cup of coffee or a light meal.

These examples show an industry shift towards immersive experiences that combine retail and dining, going beyond just products. 

Operational challenges: transforming business models

The journey into the realm of retail-restaurant hybrids, although filled with potential for success, presents a range of operational challenges that require a strategic approach. This integration goes beyond mere coexistence; it represents a significant transformation of business models, necessitating retailers who venture into the food sector and vice versa to skillfully navigate unexplored processes, for example:

  • Kitchen operations oversight: Operating a successful food business requires careful management of kitchen operations, including ingredient sourcing, preparation timelines, quality control, and waste reduction. A robust system is crucial to ensure a seamless flow from order to plate, delivering an enjoyable dining experience for customers.
  • Customer experience consistency: Maintaining a seamless fusion of retail and dining services is crucial for a consistent and flawless customer experience. This requires a coordinated approach, from personalized retail interactions to a seamless transition into the dining experience, to ensure unwavering customer loyalty.

  • Regulatory compliance challenges: As the hybrid model involves both retail and food service, businesses must face additional layers of regulatory compliance. Health and safety standards for food preparation, storage, and service become critical considerations. 
  • Inventory management complexity: managing perishable items and navigating complex supply chains can be a daunting task. It is essential to carefully monitor stock levels, take into account shelf life, and ensure timely replenishment to avoid the pitfalls of overstocking or running out of stock.

By comprehending and effectively addressing the operational challenges through the implementation of advanced technology solutions, businesses can position themselves for success in this transformative landscape.

Unified software solution: the key to seamless experiences

To thrive in the world of retail-restaurant hybrids, businesses must embrace technology that simplifies operations and processes, even in the face of complexity. A unified software solution is the key to creating a comprehensive brand experience that seamlessly manages all aspects of the business, from behind-the-scenes restaurant tasks to retail sales and customer accounts. In this hybrid model, a unified software solution is essential. Here are five ways it can elevate your business to new heights:

1. Unified business overview:

Successfully managing a retail-restaurant hybrid involves skillfully balancing numerous aspects of the business, including inventory, sales, and customer interactions. A crucial strategy for achieving this is to implement a unified software solution, which provides companies with a holistic view of their operations through a centralized platform. This seamless business overview serves as a catalyst for optimizing processes, breaking down operational barriers, and providing immediate insights across all activities. The result is a comprehensive landscape that enhances decision-making, simplifies complexities, and fosters a culture of operational efficiency and growth.

A prime example is Blue Mountain, the Canadian ski resort. Thanks to LS Central's all-in-one system, Blue Mountain underwent a transformative change, streamlining transactions, services, and operations. Now operating as a unified brand, they seamlessly manage all aspects of their business, from retail to hospitality and maintenance.

2. Exceptional customer service:

Maintaining a consistent level of service across different areas of business, such as retail and food service, can be a challenge. Customers often associate the quality of their meals with the overall experience, which means that any mistakes can have a significant impact. Shoppers appreciate knowledgeable and attentive staff, which requires proper training and the right tools. By implementing a centralized management solution with an easy-to-use Point of Sale (POS) system, businesses can help employee efficiency, boost productivity, and enhance overall customer satisfaction.

One prime example of exceptional service is the Blue Lagoon Iceland, known for empowering their employees to provide a customer-centric experience. Color line, with four million passengers sailing on their vessels, also prioritizes anticipating customer needs and creating unified experiences across restaurants, shops and entertainment available on board. 

3. Adaptability and scalability:

In the ever-changing landscape of the retail-restaurant hybrid industry, it is essential for businesses to have a software solution that can adapt to their evolving needs and scale to support their growth. This adaptability is key to ensuring smooth transitions and uninterrupted operations, ultimately leading to long-term success. By being able to easily incorporate new features, expand to new locations, and introduce new services, businesses can stay competitive, respond effectively to market trends, and meet the ever-changing demands of consumers.

This is the case of Søstrene Grene that in just a few decades has managed to grow to a chain of over 250 stores across 16 countries, spanning from Norway to Spain, all the way to Japan.

4. Holistic brand experience:

Delivering a powerful and cohesive brand experience to customers requires personalized interactions, attentive support, and equipping your staff with the right technology to excel in their roles. To achieve this, it is crucial to implement a comprehensive business management software solution that encompasses all aspects of your business concept. This ensures a seamless brand journey across all sales channels - whether your customers are shopping for furniture or enjoying a meal at the restaurant. This is the case of IKEA - Saudi Arabia that with LS Retail software solution is enjoying several operational benefits as well as managing a massive scale of business and volume of sales from one unified software platform.

5. Comprehensive Business Intelligence analytics:

Real-time data insights are invaluable for strategic decision-making. A unified software solution equipped with robust business intelligence analytics allows businesses to analyze performance metrics, identify trends, and make informed decisions to optimize operations and maximize profitability.

Access to comprehensive analytics empowers businesses to understand customer behavior, track sales performance, and identify areas for improvement. This data-driven approach enhances operational efficiency, guides marketing strategies, Enable quick decision-making and ultimately contributes to sustained growth.

For example, Scandlines efficiently manages their ferry services, restaurants and retail stores with Ls Retail unified platform, enjoying an abundance of data about all transactions that they can then use to review budgeting and more.


The evolution of retail-restaurant hybrids represents a dynamic shift in how brick-and-mortar businesses engage with customers. As the retail landscape continues to adapt, mastering the fusion of retail and dining experiences becomes not just a strategic move but a necessity for sustained relevance and success.

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