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Food truck retailing

Customers Order Meals From Colorful Atlanta Food Truck“Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business”.

Warren Buffett

Isn’t it interesting that many of us, when pressed to develop new differentiating  ways to compete, think that this can only be done by innovating our offer. Yet sometimes the way to build our branded touch-points is to do just do things in a clever and novel way, not necessarily completely new to the market.

Taking our branded offer to the customer in ways that are fun and support an event are the domain of “food truck retailers.” Marrying our growing appetite for food and beverages, eating out and diversifying our cuisine tastes such as that in 2014, where at least 33 per cent of visitations to our shopping centres included a food visit.

Combine this trend with a growing interest in experiential retailing and today’s modern customer desires for convenience and quick and efficient shopping experiences and it is no surprise why alternative food trucks are popping up all over our cities.

These are often gourmet standard establishments, offering a variety of alternative food options from Yum Cha and New York-style reubens, to milkshakes topped with Nutella doughnuts. Back in October 2015, a whole weekend was dedicated to celebrating this innovative retail format along with our city’s love of good food at Sydney’s first ever ‘Food Truck Jam.’

Yet it’s not just the independent start-ups going mobile. We recently spotted our Global Retail Innovations 11 ( nominee, Sumo Salad’s, grass covered food truck at Sydney music festival Electric Gardens. Food trucks allow already established retailers such as Sumo Salad the opportunity to test new markets, spread brand awareness and have face-to-face interaction with their customers, gaining invaluable insights and understanding of their consumers in a variety of settings and locations. That brings their brand to the event rather than traditionally trying to bring an event to the brand.

Of course it is not only food retailing that has taken to the road, truck retailing is an emerging trend globally with everything from dog grooming and vintage dresses to ‘aromatherapy on the go’ complete with a bubble machine and a sea salt soufflé bar being offered.

So what makes this format such a great option for retailers today?

Over the last 10 years, truck or mobile retailing has risen dramatically in the US as the economy faltered and entrepreneurs sought out new innovative ways to operate their retail businesses for less money. As consumer interest in pop-ups and retailtainment has spiked, retail trucks have allowed retail players of all sizes access to high-traffic or high-visibility areas, add variety and innovation to their retail portfolio, keep the brand agile and in touch with the consumer, all at a softer price tag than a brick and mortar investment.

Being mobile offers the freedom to continually open your store in new and lucrative spots, spreading your brand awareness organically, bringing your business to your desired markets and then leave them wanting more. Many truck retailers announce their next pop-up location via social media, creating a strong following and sense of community amongst those ‘in the know’.

Our Global Retail Insights team predict truck retailing is set to be a fast growing retail format to watch over the next couple of years with retailers young and old adopting this model as a another string to the bow in the Omni channel instrument.

Retail consultant and advisor, Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or

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