Combi City, Emden (D)

The hybrid small-space Combi City concept in Emden allows customers to shop on their own during off-peak times

The East Friesian retail company Bünting is exploring new horizons in a bid to offer its customers the best possible shopping experience and, with its new Combi City store in Emden, is launching a hybrid compact store concept to extend its opening times. During the day, the new store will run as normal but, thanks to self-service technology, customers can also shop in off-peak hours. As a full solution provider for in-store design and access technology, Bünting placed its trust in its long-standing partner, the shopfitting expert Wanzl. The two companies already joined forces in 2020 to successfully create the Combi City store in Oldenburg. Bernd Renzhofer, Sales Director at Wanzl, explains: “These days, customers want flexible, round-the-clock shopping without having to worry about opening hours. We think Bünting’s approach of offering this hybrid shopping model to extend its opening hours is pioneering and are proud to contribute to the transformation of the retail sector. As a provider of universal systems, we are always on the lookout for ways to offer our customers the best possible shopping solutions and respond to customer requirements.”

Extended opening hours

Combi City is a modern shop concept from Bünting, which was designed in close cooperation with Wanzl to provide easy and forward-looking coverage for inner-city local supply. Using the store is simple and intuitive, so that customers can shop conveniently on their own, even late at night. In the compact but still extensive sales area measuring over 500 m² / 5,382 ft², customers can shop during normal opening hours, Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to this, the store also opens its doors for self-service shopping between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. – the only concept of its type on this scale. During these periods, customers can access the store using their bank card or “Moin Card” customer card – either as a physical card or in app form. Inside the store, customers can move around as normal and have access to the entire product range. Information to help them find their way around and advice are available in the app and the self-checkout terminal menu, as well as on large digital sign monitors in the sales area, which also contain product explanations and the latest offers. Self-service shopping during off-peak hours works just like customers are used to: Products are taken off the shelf and placed in the basket or shopping cart. The items selected can be scanned at the self-checkout terminals, and payment takes place using the customer’s bank card.

The technology behind the store – Wanzl Connect®

Customers can leave the store via exit gates. These and all other technical processes, such as lighting and store radio in the Combi City store, are managed using the Wanzl Connect® operating system. Devices are monitored constantly using a Cloud-based platform to detect crashes and errors as quickly as possible. Furthermore, the system is able to identify unusual behavior by shoppers. This helps to make sure that self-service shopping is secure.

Sophisticated in-store design

“The store concept and in-store design were based on the motto ‘Industrial meets Nordic’ to not only pay homage to the Combi retail brand’s East Friesian roots but also to create a modern feel with elements of industrial design,” says Christoph Kübel, senior director at Wanzl, describing the design concept. The Nordic aspect is reflected in the color scheme of the tiles and their typical Nordic pattern, timber-look decor, lights with ropes as cable trim, and lighthouse icons. Black steel, untreated exposed concrete and corrugated sheets add to the industrial look. In terms of colors, three shades dominate the store: blue, particularly denim blue and smoke blue, white and black, including various shades of gray. The Combi logo along with the motto “Moin. Frisch. Nebenan” (Morning. Fresh. Nextdoor) appears around the entire store in white font on a blue background. Exclusively selected merchandise, such as decorative lighting and graphic design, round off the look and feel. When entering the store, customers can pick up Salsa shopping carts by Wanzl, small plastic carts with a modern design that are very quiet and comfortable. Glass surfaces in the entrance area provide a direct view of the lighthouse pictogram, which welcomes shoppers to the fruit and vegetable department. The wire tech 100 wire shelving by Wanzl used for dry goods is particularly space-efficient as it can hold 13 percent more products than classic shelving. It is also very transparent and can therefore make a very big impact, particularly in small spaces.

An attractive product display

Chilled drinks, dairy products including cheese, and fish and meat are presented in attractive displays in large steel-look refrigerators behind glass panels. Here, customers will find everything they could wish for, along with a number of regional products. The industrial look dominates the wine and spirits department. Black wire shelves covered in a large expanded metal mesh present the wide range of alcohol drinks. In self-service mode, customers can only enter the department once their age has been checked to make sure no under-age shoppers can access the products. Depending on the time of day, the customer can pay for their purchases at the traditional till or the self-checkout terminal, which are signposted and marked with arrows. The project manager Johannes Aumann from Bünting sums it up: “We are very happy that, together with Wanzl, we were successfully able to bring our vision to life and hope that our new Combi City store goes down well with our customers.”