Hybrid shopping experiences: win-win for retailers and consumers

25 Aug 2023


There is a resurgence of concepts that blur the distinction between retail and food service concepts. We spot bakeries in bookstores, coffee bars in laundromats and ice cream outlets in shoe boutiques. These hybrid concepts give brick-and-mortar stones a new relevance, now that consumers are seduced by the convenience of online shopping for most purchases. Find out why a hybrid shopping experience is a win-win for both food outlets and consumers and how you can capitalize on this opportunity. And get inspired by 8 hybrid retail concepts that totally nailed the cross-over trend. 

Physical stores draw less visitors  

Physical stores have been facing a decline in the number of visitors for the last couple of years. Placing an online order on your phone and opting for doorstep delivery is an easier choice than going outside and visiting a local store. It better fits into the busy lives of consumers. 

In our worldwide Taste Tomorrow consumer survey among thousands of consumers, we see that consumers attach less and less value to physical retail properties. In 2018, 81% of consumers said they would not like to see the end of stores in the street. Now, that number has shrunk down to 69%. But in the meantime, just 8% of consumers buys bread, cake and patisserie online weekly at the moment. The majority of 62% still goes to supermarkets, coffee shops, convenience stores and bakeries. 

This data tells us that there is no reason to panic yet, but it’s wise for brick and mortar stores to come up with next-level shopping experiences to keep drawing consumers in the future. That can be hybrid shopping experiences or added value in the form of great customer service or a fantastic decor. It’s good to keep in mind that people value experiences more highly than low-cost offerings. In fact, at least 70% of people agree to continue buying from stores that increase their prices when they feel valued as a customer, according to research by Ipsos

Level up with hybrid retail concepts  

Do you want to surprise your customers with a next-level experience? Then you should definitely give hybrid retail a go. That is a great way to draw a larger audience to your store and to keep them coming back. At this moment, we see two forms of hybrid concepts: 

  1. The ‘phygital’ shopping experience, which combines the strength of the physical and the digital world into unique experiences.  

  2. Cross-over concepts that combine retail with foodservice, like footwear and apparel retailers offering treats such as ice cream, cakes and milkshakes, bookstores with a café, bakeries with a lunchroom and coffeeshops offering haircuts. 

In this article, we’ll zoom in on the cross-over concepts. If you want to learn more about the phygital shopping trend, check our article The Rise of Food NFTS and their impact on food culture

The benefits of retail & foodservice cross-over concepts 

Although cross-over concepts aren’t new, they are still immensely popular among consumers and offer a new sense of relevance to physical shops. A hybrid concept is beneficial for retailers, as it:

  • adds an additional revenue stream to their business

  • adds an extra element making their shop more distinctive

  • makes for more traffic, targeting consumers from another market 

  • offers opportunities to showcase their expertise 

  • allows them to build significant connections with their customers

And it’s beneficial for consumers, who get the best of both the retail and the foodservice world combined in one next-level experience. 

Let’s take coffee shops for example. Coffee shops have become popular destinations to meet people, to work from, to collaborate or to have a bit of me-time. And some coffee shops even merge with completely different concepts. At Reform Social & Grill, a gastropub and family-friendly restaurant in London, you can grab a drink and have a haircut at the same time. And at Cycle Bistro in Jumeirah, Dubai, you can have a coffee and a paleo dish while having your bike serviced at their workshop.  

Besides coffee shops, there are many more inspiring examples of hybrid retail concepts:


Cloths and café collab

On the top floor of Primark’s London flagship store, Greggs and Primark have opened ‘Tasty by Greggs’ café. The collaboration between high street icons Greggs and Primark followed a range of extra services in the Primark store, including a nail and beauty bar.


Shoes, apparel & treats

Before building his footwear and apparel empire Kith, fashion & retail force Ronnie Fieg dreamed of turning his childhood obsession into a brand. Ever since his parents didn’t allow him to eat sugary cereals at home, he dreamed of opening New York’s first cereal bar. After 20 years of developing and refining the concept, Kith Treats was born.

Dining in the bookstore

Bookstores and cafés are a popular hybrid concept. The café of Dear Friend, a bookstore in Brooklyn, New York, is one of a kind though. They offer food and beverages for dine-in only and ban laptops at the counter to encourage social connections among their customers.

Eyewear, food & community

Eyewear brand Jins created a community-centered store in Maebashi, Japan. The store is called Jins Park, emphasizing its role beyond a retail store. Jins Park includes a bakery, cafe, playground, garden, and of course its eyewear. 

Business with a deeper purpose

The main aim of E5 Bakehouse was to employ and train refugees in their café and coffee roastery. Since then, an organic bakery, a farm,  flour mill, chocolate facility and a deli shop have been added to the mix. And you can go there for classes in baking sourdough bread and pizza, pastry, flatbread and more.  

Eat and drink while doing laundry

Not many people fancy doing the laundry. But when you live in Belgium, you can have a great time! At Wasbar (laundry bar), you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a drink while waiting for you laundry to get clean and dry. 


Opportunities for bakeries, patisseries and chocolate shops

So how can retailers capitalize on the opportunities presented by hybrid retail concepts? 

  • Combine your main offering with services or products that feel like a natural add-on. Bakery shops could organize baking classes for sourdough bread or pastry, and they can also start selling baking equipment and tools. 

  • Encourage customers to linger by offering a seated area or cafe where they can consume your baked goods, pastries or chocolate treats.

  • Host events such as parties, book clubs or workshops so  people will visit your store even when they’re not shopping for a specific item. Although they are more likely to browse and buy.

  • Include reward programs and exclusive perks for regular shoppers, such as a stamp card to save for a free cake, events that give a behind the scenes glimpse of your bakery or special offerings for holidays, such as a brunch kit for Mothers Day.

Cross-over or phygital experience?

Besides this cross-over form of hybrid retail concepts, you can also give your customers a next-level shopping experience in another way. Not by mixing retail with food service, but by seamlessly connecting the online and offline world. These so-called phygital shopping experiences are also often referred to as hybrid retail. Read all about in the article The Rise of food NFTS and their impact on food culture.

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