Meet Medley, the Grocery Store of the Future



Kate Silver, Contributor
Brian Kavanagh
Senior Director of Retail Evolution, The Hershey Company
Lina Yang
Director of The Hershey Lab, The Hershey Company

What if you could tear down all of the notions you have about grocery shopping? Get rid of the 100,000-square-foot box stores. Banish those cumbersome carts. Dim the blindingly bright aisles. Forget about those tedious shopping lists.

Now, what do you build?

That’s the question recently posed by the team at The Hershey Lab, where the team is continually looking to the future to identify relevant risks and opportunities, and to improve upon the retail experience. The lab set about envisioning a reinvented shopping experience, and came up with a fictitious grocery chain and a series of concept stores. The name is Medley. And it's the best grocery store chain you’ve never heard of.

“Medley is an example of what the future might be if there were no rules, if there was nothing holding us back,” says Brian Kavanagh, Senior Director, Retail Evolution at The Hershey Company. Medley reveals just how inspiring shopping could be, given the technology of today and what’s on the horizon. It’s a series of concepts that will help retail stores remain competitive, even as more consumers turn to online shopping and meal subscription services, leaving the chore of grocery shopping behind.



An interactive, multi-tech display of the Medley environments sits in Hershey’s Global Customer Innovation Center in Hershey, Pa., where visiting retailers  interact with the futuristic concepts and consider the ways their own store might leverage Medley ideas, and others, in the future. “Our goal is to get our partners to think about what the experiential store of the future will look like,” says Kavanagh. “We’re not just working with retailers on developing the confection category. We want to help them leverage this technology for better stores.”

The result: a personalized marketplace that puts a fresh spin on the retail concept.

Compared with grocery stores today, Medley is the un-store.

It’s a place where consumers want to go. An escape from the daily grind. Medley is an opportunity to meet with friends, get ideas for dinners and parties, sample new meals, drink new wines and cocktails. It’s a convenient stop to discover and order fresh new items; a virtual reality escape to new countries with exciting foods. Medley is all of the above, and more.

“What we see in the future is there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all category,” says Lina Yang, Director of The Hershey Lab. “So Medley is called Medley because we realized that there had to be a portfolio reaching different kinds of shoppers."



In the first iteration of Medley, the staff is made up of experts: a butcher who can help with meal planning; a wine, beer and liquor expert who can offer pairing advice and cocktail ideas (and even samples); a demo kitchen where chefs offer meal inspiration. Try something you like? Simply put it on your list using the store’s app. The items will all be gathered by store staff and loaded in your car or delivered to your home.

It’s a new horizon for customer service and customer experiences, and it’s all within reach.

This is the start of a series of blogs that will delve into the four Medley chain concepts, exploring what they are and what personalized, high-tech retail can be. “People want to spend time and money on experiences,” says Kavanagh. “How do you make grocery shopping one of those?”

Our next Medley blog explores the idea that food shopping is all about meals not ingredients. Medley 2.0 is the meal destination.

Additional Reading: Brian and Lina talk their top three 2017 retail predictions and the theme is building frictionless shopping experiences.