Panino Italiano Magazine

Has small retail a future?

Panino in English by Emeline Dany 29/05/2020

Or when to decide to integrate a “shop in the shop”. 

By Emeline Dany

One of the positive things the COVID-19 brought, has been a return to small retails and proximity shopping. In some countries like Italy or France where, for years, the smaller groceries stores have been striving to stay alive, the disease show that proximity and tailored shopping had a forgotten added-value. In this context, people were ready to pay more to avoid the queue and the physical contacts. 

At one point, some restaurants understood that people would have done anything for one kilo of flour or eggs and started to sell their own supplies. 

Was it a good move? For sure, because they were not introducing a new line but exploiting the existing products range. It would have been riskier if they had started to get new products or packaging sizes they would not use for their own business. 

Davide Longoni, a famous baker in Milan started to sell online packages with bread but also, milk, flour and eggs. 

The question we have today is: Now that most of the restaurants have been developing a platform for online selling and deliveries, should they keep consider add-on products sales as a good opportunity? 

In Italy, as soon as they started unlocking the country, the deliveries market dropped. Though a consciousness has been raised. Selling products in coherence with your brand identity can be a good move. People go back home and have a product that reminds them you, it’s a bit like specialty advertising. People will see your product and remember more easily to come back to your restaurant. 

Besides, it’s a good way to put a face on your suppliers. There is a Neapolitan pizzeria in Italy, Da Zero that organizes events between their suppliers and the consumers, to promote the genuine side of their products. 

Selecting a few local suppliers that work in the correct way and give them space in your restaurant is a good way to promote quality and short chains. 

Though introducing a shop in the shop means new backend processes: creation of the range, end user prices setting, handling stock turns and shelf lives. 

For sure if you use product that you use for cooking when the shelf life is getting close, you can use it. But is it economically wise? Sometimes, smaller packaging can mean reducing your dish margin drastically. 

And where will you stock the products? Have considered that some clients could steal them o break them?

How do you handle seasonality? Products considered “heavier” may not be sold during the summer for example. 

How to promote your products? How to show/communicate that you may pay a bit more but have something special and you will help people working in respect of the earth for example?

Sometimes, you can see unorganized products abandoned with dust on shelves and it will have the opposite effect.  

In others words, are we sure that is a good business development? What would be a sustainable solution?

Selling products in a restaurant can be an opportunity during 2 occasions

1. Organizing theme events with the small producers. The producer does the exercise to explain the philosophy behind his products and perform a tasting. 

In that way, a bond is created between the customer and the supplier, bond that will push the customer to make a gesture and buy a product. The customer will gain a social benefit, he will be proud of having helped a small producer. Those events need to be well designed so the customer does not have a feeling to be participating to a sales meeting. 

2. In France, for 20 years now, they developed systems for ordering food from grouped local producers once a week. They call it GAEC. One famous online network is named La Ruche and was extended to Italy under the name L’Alveare. For example, you decide to order a basket for 2 people and will receive veggies of the season without knowing what you will get. You order online and pay upfront; the designated day you go and pick your basket.

Is it something a restaurant could organize with the small producers working with him?

The pros speak from themselves: 

> The payment occurs upfront. 

> The baskets are prepared based on the confirmed orders, meaning no stock, no waste. 

> The restaurant can take a small fee for facilitating and promoting the producers.

> The client comes back more often to the restaurant/bar... 

At the end, in a world where everything tends to be 2.0, perpetuating a link between the customer, the transformer and the producer has something special. It goes “touching” the fact that food tastes better in some context, and what is a better context than eating a piece of cured meat, reminding the story the producer told about how the product was born? 

Emeline Dany

Emeline Dany

Food Strategist

Francese, appassionata di cibo e design. 

Dopo 10 anni nell'industria come project manager nel miglioramento dei processi e il change management, decide di specializzarsi in Food Strategy. 

Convinta che si impari tutta la vita, dopo un master in Management & Marketing in una grande école francese, e una formazione in Design d'interni allo IED, ha avuto l'opportunità di partecipare al primo master in Food Design della SPD, lanciato per l'EXPO 2015. Ha seguito anche i corsi sommelier dell’AIS.

Nel 2016, sviluppa la sua propria metodologia di consulenza per progettare customer solutions a 360 gradi e si mette in proprio.

Insegna allo IED “ how to design a food experience” dal 2017. 

Nel 2018, avvia La Baghet, un concetto di eno -boulangerie su ruote e di organizzazione di eventi francesi (catering, corsi di cucina, degustazione). 

Scrive le sue esperienze di foodie sul suo sito e profilo instagram @lescalopemilanaise

Il suo sogno:

"Contribuire a rendere il mondo più bello per tutti attraverso il cibo".

>Per il consumatore: migliorando il suo quotidiano grazie ad esperienze gradevoli.

>Per l'imprenditore: assistendolo nella realizzazione del suo progetto di aprire un locale, pensando ai piccoli dettagli che fanno la differenza.

>Per il produttore: promuovendo la tradizione e il cibo di qualità.

English version

French, in love with Food & Design.

After 10 years in the industry field, as Project Manager in charge of Change Management & Product Launch, she decided to specialize in Food Strategy.

A lifelong learner, after earning a Master's degree in Management & Marketing and completing an Interior Design program , she had the opportunity to attend the first Master's program in Food Design, launched for the EXPO 2015 by the Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan.

​In her free time, she also attended Sommelier courses.

In 2016, she created her  own methodology to provide food strategy consulting and design 360° solutions adapted to clients’ needs.


Because today’s customers get bored more easily and tend to be less loyal than in the past.

Because we live in a world where advertising and interior design are not enough to make a restaurant or a food retail concept successful.

Because nowadays, it's essential to design not only the space but the food and experience we offer to our customers.

Since 2017, she teaches “ how to design a food experience”  in IED school.

In 2018, launched La Baghet, a concept of eno-boulangerie on the wheels  and organization of french style events (catering, corsi di cucina, degustazione).

She writes her foodie experience on her site and insta profile: @lescalopemilanaise.

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