Do you want to start a supermarket business with low investment? If YES, here are 50 best small supermarket business ideas you can start with no money in 2020.
A supermarket is a self-service shop that offers a wide variety of food and household products, and these products are organized into aisles for easy identification. The major stock in a supermarket is usually grocery, and it contributes to more than half of all the supplies in any supermarket business.
Supermarket sizes range from mega-stores and chain grocery stores to small business community grocers that only run individual stores. To properly run a supermarket, the manager or owner-operator must understand, monitor and be able to manage all core supermarket business operations.
Why Start a Supermarket Business?
The supermarket business is very lucrative in the United States because that is where households go to get their daily needs. In fact, it is estimated that shoppers made about 1.5 trips to grocery stores on the average every week in 2017.
In 2015, supermarkets in the United States generated an average weekly sale of about 328,390 U.S. dollars, which works out to about 31,275 U.S. dollars per checkout, per week. According to the latest figures, supermarkets in the United States generated about 582.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2015.
If you are probably looking for a way to break into the supermarket business, here are 50 supermarket business ideas you can consider.
50 Best Supermarket Business ideas You Can Start in 2020
- Specialty food supermarket
Specialty foods or groceries are foods or groceries that are considered to be unique and of high-value, and they generally come in small quantities, and the food items are made from high-quality ingredients. Consumers typically pay higher prices for these items because they are perceived as having various benefits.
These supermarkets are customized retail outlets dedicated only to a certain category of products, and they come with simple layouts, neat designs, easy product displays, convenient shopping formats and much shorter queues. This is a profitable supermarket niche because you would be catering to the rich. If your town already has a local grocery store, then opening a specialty food shop might be your next port of call.
- Wine and cheese supermarket
There is a long history of wine and cheese matching, probably as long as cheese and wine have both been around. Because of that, retailers have thought up selling wine and cheese as a niche supermarket idea. It is a fact that supermarkets don’t provide all the different wines and cheese consumers always want, and if they do, they don’t provide perfect combinations. If you are knowledgeable about wines and cheese, you can set up a wine and cheese supermarket where you get to teach your customers how to combine them.
- Start a virtual reality supermarket
With the aim of providing a more interactive shopping experience, the virtual reality supermarket was developed. These stores can only be accessed in certain public locations. When customers point their smartphone in the right direction at locations such as public squares, a virtual store is displayed where items sit on shelves or hang from the walls.
This app provides a simulation of a physical retail store so shoppers can feel more immersed in their online shopping trip. Orders can be delivered at shoppers preferred destination, so you have to run a functional delivery system. This kind of supermarket is advisable in places where it is not possible to set up brick and mortar stores.
- Kids supermarket
This is another supermarket business idea. You can set up a kids only supermarket that gets to stock all things kids. You can sell from organic baby food to toys, clothing and much more. To attract children and make them comfortable, the supermarket should have color-coded pathways just for children, and hold a touch of mystery for their fascination. The place should equally have a sense of whimsy and playfulness that even adults are sure to be affected by.
- Pet food and supplies supermarket
You can open a supermarket that retails pet food, healthy treats, holistic supplements, chemical free grooming products and pet supplies. To have a healthy progress in this business, you must know all there is to know about pets and their supplies. If going by the statistics that more than half of Americans have a pet or more, you are surely going to make decent profits out of this business if it is handled well.
- Beauty supplies supermarket
Beauty supplies are a very big supermarket niche, and research has it that the sale of beauty products is not affected by economic downturn because people would always maintain their beauty routines. You can set up a beauty supply supermarket where you get to sell makeup, hair related products such as wigs, weave, human, synthetic and more, body and face creams etc. all from different brands and manufacturers. You would do well to employ sales people that can help educate consumers whenever they need help. To maximize profit in this business, you can also choose to sell online.
- Online supermarket
If you want to sell products to consumers without having to invest in an actual storefront, the easiest way to get started is to open up an eCommerce site. You have to develop a website that features grocery items for sale. To start, offer only the most popular grocery items like milk and bread so as to attract regular customers.
As the business expands, and your customer base grows, you can then expand your product line. Contract the delivery aspect of the service to people in your local community seeking to earn a part-time income. Customers would simply log on to the site, select the items they wish to purchase, enter payment and shipping information and wait for their groceries. Once established, this business idea is franchiseable.
- Fresh Seafood supermarket
You can start up a seafood supermarket that offers a myriad of fresh seafood items that range from organic produce selections to a fresh seafood station that is modeled after outdoor fish markets. You can make the market home to several smaller shops so that it would stand out among its competitors. These can include specialty cheese kiosks, butcher counters and even catering stations that are all accessible inside one store.
- Mobile supermarket
The advancement in technology has made practically everything possible, and it is for this reason that we now have mobile supermarkets. As an entrepreneur who is looking for a niche in the supermarket business, you can set up a supermarket on wheels.
A mobile supermarket is a supermarket that travels to meet its customers instead of the other way round. The mobile supermarket typically eliminates the pesky tradition of getting up and going to the store to shop. Instead, the store comes to you. It should be built in such a way that customers can call up the supermarket to their destinations, just like they would call Uber.
You can build your supermarket in such a way that it doesn’t have cashiers or checkout lanes. Instead, subscribers scan their purchases off the shelf, pay with a phone app and head out the door. Or you can have the driver act as cashier.
- Build easy shopping/checkout apps
Modern technology has allowed us to re-invent the way we shop and pay for groceries and daily essentials. App-enabled services have become a popular way for supermarkets to connect with customers both inside and outside of the store.
By helping consumers’ spot discounts, avoid spoiled produce and even check out their own purchases, these technological advances are changing the way people shop for food. If you want to be part of the supermarket niche but cannot set up a supermarket just yet, you can start building and selling apps that would make shopping easy and the shopping experience pleasant for people.
- Supermarket delivery
Delivering grocery for supermarkets is another way one can start up a business in this area if one cannot set up a supermarket. Grocery delivery would only work for supermarkets that have online shopping options. What you need to do is to simply contact local grocery stores and offer to deliver customers’ orders for a fee.
The grocery store would market the service, bill the customer, and take the orders. You own job is to simply deliver the groceries. Grocery delivery services are often very profitable business ventures, as the convenience of home delivery makes getting customers very easy.
- Supermarket dropshipping
Here, you can establish a buying account with a grocery wholesaler and start reselling groceries to your customers at a profit. This method means you’ll have to create a catalog of the grocery items you have in stock, as well as market your products. The potential to generate more profit is greatly increased if you properly market your service.
- Open a green super store
Another profitable idea in the supermarket business is to set up a supermarket dedicated solely to selling green produce, that is fruits and vegetables. You can stock various brands of freshly harvested healthy produce, and you can as well have an organic section. You have to ensure that you locate your store in areas where people are very health conscious.
- Meat supermarket
Unlike national grocery chains, you can open a supermarket that specializes in selling the best seasonal produce from award-winning poultry and livestock farms. This can include free-range pork, grass-fed beef, chicken and various other birds and their byproducts, among other high-end offerings. Your shop should largely cater to consumers who go out of their way to find quality meat products, instead of picking up whatever they might find at their local supermarket.
- Start a fruit mart
The new wave of healthy eating and living has ensured that people now include lots of fruits and vegetables in their daily offerings. You can take advantage of this to start a fresh fruits and vegetables mart. Your supermarket should contain tons and tons of varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables from around the globe, and that is differentiated from others by their standard quality and freshness.
To become well-known and profitable in this niche, you need to ensure that your store is a one-stop-shop for everything fruits and vegetables. You can as well provide local deliveries so as to take full advantage of the market.
- All things bakery supermarket
There are loads of pastry and dessert stores around a typical community and these stores and even private bakers would appreciate a store that stocks all things bakery in one place. You can open a supermarket that is exclusively for bakery products, and you should endeavor to cater to every bakery niche, even exotic. This is definitely not a popular section in the supermarket business so you would undoubtedly make a name for yourself in this area. Just ensure you locate your supermarket in the right location.
- Diet supermarket
As people get more health conscious, they tend to embark on different types on diet to keep their health and weight stable. With the myriads of diet types available in the world today, people would sometimes get confused on which to embark on and how to get food types that would be used to sustain such dieting routine. You can open a specialty supermarket that stocks different food products that are used for different dieting routines.
You should first of all find out the types of meal diets available and estimate the number of people that use them, then you can dedicate each section in your store to each of the diet routine’s, and make sure they are well labeled. You need to be on continuous research because new diet routines come up every other day.
- Souvenir supermarket
Starting a souvenir store is another supermarket business idea. You can start a supermarket where you get to stock and sell different types of souvenir from different countries of the world. Ensure you locate your supermarket around a major tourist attraction so as to have steady patronage. Also, you need to always comply with the seasons by stocking souvenirs that are appropriate to the different periods of the year such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, thanksgiving, etc.
- Start a small batch supermarket
A small batch supermarket is a perfect alternative for an entrepreneur who may not have the capital to finance a full supermarket. You can stock specialty goods but in small batches that you can handle. You can open a small batch cheese, spice, bacon, meat, wine or beer etc. supermarket. In order to succeed, you have to ensure that your offerings are always special.
- Start a Cafe-Plus Supermarket
Retailers are today playing around with ideas on how to stand out from the competition, especially in a business that is as competitive as the supermarket business. One of such inventions that are designed to get people more comfortable while they shop is to start a Café plus Supermarket.
This just means that the grocery store also has a café so shoppers can go there to relax after shopping or in between shopping. This supermarket business idea also aims to draw in people who just want to take a cup of coffee, but might at the end of the day decide to do some shopping. With its double income stream, the Café plus Supermarket is sure to prove more profitable than just the ordinary supermarket.
- Self-check-out supermarket
The rise in technology has also been revolutionizing how people shop and how supermarkets are run. Today we now have supermarkets where customers or buyers check themselves out, instead of having an attendant who tallies up people’s purchases and receives payment. This type of supermarket requires little staff to run it as shoppers do all the jobs by themselves. Though an attendant is always required to be on standby in case customers have any inquiries.
- Start a dollar-supermarket
With the economic downturn, decrease in disposable income, increasing rate of unemployment and emigration into the United States, a lot of people do find it difficult to feed themselves and can only survive by resorting to dollar stores. You can as well set up a dollar store supermarket and profit from this niche just like other entrepreneurs out there are doing.
You have to make sure to set up your supermarket in underprivileged areas where people would be more disposed to shop at your stores. You also need to stock very cheap brands of produce so that people can easily afford them. You can liaise with the manufacturers before you start this business.
- Gourmet supermarket
A gourmet supermarket is a type of specialty food store that stocks high quality food and farm produce. This upscale specialty supermarket is a stunning tribute to quality ingredients and expert craftsmanship. This is a store for those who know and value quality and can equally afford to pay for it.
You have to note that every single product on your shelf should be of the best quality to ensure that you get high spending chefs and home owners through your doors. In order to offer something different from others, you can have a bevy of in-store chefs ready to offer tips or inspiration or your customers.
- Exotic food supermarket
The United States is filled with people who are from different countries, nations and languages, and all these people have their different food types. You can start a supermarket that stocks different exotic food products from different countries.
You have to import the food produce dried or frozen and sell them in your supermarket. You would definitely get a lot of patronage if you are situated in an area with people from different countries of the world. You can have sections for different continents such as Africa, Asia etc.
- Candy supermarket
A candy store is a store that stocks a large variety of candy, chocolates, gum and mints, and at great prices. This is another profitable supermarket business idea. You should always source for the best bargains and sock even gourmet candy and chocolate so as to cater to different niches and pockets.
- Supermarket promoter
A sales promoter is an employee of a company who is mainly appointed to handle the strategy making process of the sales department and ensure better sales figures. These individuals are responsible for designing, developing and implementing the strategies and tactics through which sales can increase and figures can improve. If you are a seasoned sales promoter who wants to specialize in supermarkets, you can decide to become a supermarket promoter to help promote the various supermarkets that keep springing up in your area.
- Herb and spice superstore
Seasoning and spices are another supermarket business idea. For sure, there are supermarkets that stock seasonings and spices alone and they make good income out of it because there is a huge market for them. You can source for and stock natural, organic, alternative, exotic and specialty spices and seasonings. To maintain your reputation, you have to ensure that your spices are not adulterated.
- Millennial-centric supermarket
To create a niche out of the supermarket business, you can decide to set up a supermarket that is targeted to the needs of millennials. Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the generational demographic following the Generation X.
Millennials are people born between the 1980s and 1990s, most probably ending in 1996. The changing perspectives millennials have toward food and shopping are pushing more supermarkets to make their stores feel more like experiential food destinations than mere shopping centers. You can set up a supermarket that targets the idiosyncrasies of the millennials in order to draw more of them to your store.
- Bulk-food supermarket
Bulk foods are food items offered in large quantities, which can be purchased in large, bulk lots or transferred from a bulk container into a smaller container for purchase. By eliminating packaging, bulk supermarkets offer consumers savings of 50 percent or more on certain items. Items are usually displayed in barrels, containers or bags, such as the cracker barrel, coffee barrels, dried-nuts barrels, candy barrels, spice barrels, cereal barrels and dozens more.
How it typically works is that the supplier delivers a bag, container or drum full of grains, oil, honey etc. to a shop. The product is put onto the store floor in its original bag, container or drum or is transferred to a dispenser for the consumer.
The supplier picks up the empty containers for reuse or recycling, depending on the product. The shopper comes along with containers or bags. The containers and bags are weighed first, by the store keeper. You get to fill up your bags and containers, and when you are ready to pay, the store keeper will deduct the weight of your container or bag from the total weight.
- Start an automated supermarket
An automated supermarket is another supermarket business idea. Here, processes in the supermarket are typically automated to allow for faster entrance, shopping and check out. Entrance to the supermarket is gained by ‘unlocking’ the doors virtually. Once you’re in, you can scan the products that you’d like to buy with your smartphone.
As for payment, a monthly bill can be paid with the supermarket app. The automated supermarket is a concept that has the potential to reinvent the grocery store, reduce the cost of operation, and double sales per square foot thanks to increased customer appeal. This kind of supermarket is usually available at all hours of the day.
- Waste free supermarket
In the United States, trash amounts to 1.4 billion pounds per day, and 40% of that trash comes from packaging. Considering that packaging forms about 40 percent of the waste in grocery stores, you can start a package-free, zero waste grocery store that provides fresh, local and organic food.
The store will be made provide all of the basic ingredients needed for a healthy lifestyle such as meats, dairy, baking goods, cooking oils, spices, grains, and seasonal produce.
In order to reduce package waste, customers would be encouraged to bring their own containers and fill them up with just the right quantity of foods while the store will offer compostable containers for those who don’t have their own. This type of supermarket would rightly appeal to those who are waste conscious.
32. Start a Grocerant
A grocerant is a grocery store that sells prepared meals that are either eaten on the site or taken home by shoppers. A lot of American families have two employed parents and as such may not have enough time to prepare fresh meals for their families and this gave rise to the grocerant. The word grocerant is a hybrid of ‘grocery’ and ‘restaurant.’
The grocerant trend has been fueled by consumers’ need for convenience and desire to eat fresh, high-quality family meals. Grocerants offer a one-stop-shopping solution for consumers driven by either curiosity or a lack of time, and an increasing number of grocery stores now allow customers to buy and eat on the spot. This is another lucrative supermarket business idea.
33. Surplus Food Supermarket
Surplus foods are basically foods that have passed their “best before” dates, as well as products that haven’t passed quality control. These produce are usually sold at prices 30-50% cheaper than normal supermarkets, but you might get the products off manufacturers and supermarkets for next to nothing, so it is basically a win win situation.
This supermarket is meant to reach out to low-income shoppers, so you should make sure to locate it at such a neighbourhood. You need to have an agreement with a wide range of supermarket chains and volunteers around you so they would always supply you their surplus produce.
- Start a sip-and-shop supermarket
In this supermarket business idea, the owner offers its customers beer and wine on the premises that they can consume as they shop for groceries. This supermarket would require a liquor license to operate, and it is targeted at consumers who love their liquor or who simply want to take it easy with shopping.
- Kosher Food supermarket
Kosher foods are foods those that conform to the Jewish dietary regulations of kashrut (dietary law), primarily derived from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Foods that may be consumed according to halakha (law) is termed kosher in English.
If you live in a community with a lot of Jewish adherents, you might want to open a kosher supermarket. You must ensure that your supermarket stocks everything that would make a Jewish meal. If you are situated in the right neighbourhood, you would have no problems with making sales.
- Start a Web-Based Farmers’ Market
Yes, your typical farmers market has now gone online. Customers can place their orders online and then pick up their purchase at a time and place that is convenient to them. This system allows customers to purchase foods directly from farmers without having to travel to their farms or to farmer markets, which many farmers themselves find difficult to attend. You can set up this kind of system from anywhere and profit from it.
- Supermarket consulting
In the highly competitive and fast-paced supermarket, grocery store and convenience store business, it’s really difficult for new businesses to break even. Supermarket consultants are people who help grocery stores align their strategies to better serve customers.
If you are a marketing researcher or a management consultant, you can help supermarkets with their store operations, best practices, customer service, retail logistics, merchandising, retail strategy, inventory management, expert witness, retail supply chain, retail due diligence.
38. Dairy store
A dairy store is small owner-operated convenience store that sells milk, eggs, various flavours of ice cream and cheeses. If you are conversant with all things dairy, you can set up a diary store that would serve the dairy needs of your immediate community.
- Misshapen Produce Discount supermarket
An ad says, “a grotesque apple a day keeps the doctor away as well”. With the increasing campaigns for the reduction of food waste, smart entrepreneurs have found a new way to make a business niche out of it. One of them is selling misshapen produce at a discount.
You can set up a supermarket where you sell misshapen fruits and veggies at a discount of between 50 and 60 percent of the original produce. You have to align with farmers to get them to supply you with fruits and veggies no other store would take because of their odd shapes. Note that low income earners would typically form most of your customer base, so ensure to locate your supermarket in such an area.
- Meat free supermarkets
With the increasing demand for alternative plant-based products, including everything from fresh produce and cosmetics to beverages and cereals, some entrepreneurs are now taking advantage of this. You can set up a meat-free supermarket that offers vegan or vegetarian produce alone.
- Start a Self-Sustaining supermarket/grocery store
This is an in-store farm concept. The self-sustaining supermarket is a high-tech farm that is located inside a supermarket or grocery store. The idea here is that the store sells produce from the usually hydroponic farm. Given that the hydroponic system does not require pesticides, all of the produce grown in the unit is 100% organic and is said to taste better than comparative alternatives.
If you are very familiar with hydroponic farming and if it is allowed in the area where you want to set up your supermarket, you can go ahead and open up your self-sustaining supermarket. You would definitely draw in the health conscious crowd.
- Start a Supermarket Clothing Pop-Up
Recently, there has been a marked increase in the number of supermarket chains adding clothing sections to their stores. The pop-up shops help to educate consumers about the latest kinds of trendy pieces they can pick up during their weekly grocery run. While setting up this kind of supermarket, you can liaise with boutiques for them to give you samples of their clothings to display in your store.
- Drive-thru supermarket
The concept of the drive-thru supermarket is one where customers order online and pay for their groceries online, then they can come to a predetermined destination to pick up such groceries. To set up this kind of supermarket, you need to have a very efficient website and efficient hands that are able to package different requests and make them ready for their owners in a few minutes. When the customers drive over to the location, the staff will load up their car for them. Since everything is already paid for, users can drive away without having any need to leave their vehicles.
- Start a supermarket entertainment center
In order to compete with the convenience of online shopping, many retailers are now offering brick-and-mortar spaces that are multipurpose, entertaining and experience-focused. A supermarket entertainment center is an all-in-one food store where visitors can purchase groceries, have dinner, or enjoy immersive VR tech. This all-in-one grocery store, dining destination and entertainment center can also feature family amusement center, arcade, indoor play area for kids and Virtual Reality experience rooms.
- Start a C-store
C-store, also known as convenience store is a small retail business that stocks a range of everyday items such as groceries, snack foods, confectionery, soft drinks, tobacco products, over-the-counter drugs, toiletries, newspapers, and magazines. This is almost like a small supermarket and it is easily manageable for a startup entrepreneur.
- Pasta-Focused supermarket
This is one concept that puts a restaurant-style eatery in a grocery store. The pasta focused supermarket will offer shoppers access to different types of pasta including macaroni, cheese and even vegan options to choose from. Decadent meat options like pulled pork will also be made available to satisfy certain palates. Since pasta is a meal that is loved by all, your supermarket would see good patronage especially if your prices are reasonable. You can also offer new pasta recipes to customers to keep them happy.
- Start a hypermarket
A hypermarket is a very large self-service store with a wide range of goods and a large car park, typically situated outside a town. Unlike traditional supermarkets which typically sell grocery items only, many supermarkets have begun combining with department stores to create an expansive retail facility known as a hypermarket. This is a very big establishment that suits only those with heavy finances to carry it. If you have such finances or have good sponsors, you can open a hypermarket.
- Start a private-label supermarket
Private-label products are typically products manufactured or provided by one company for offer under another company’s brand. Private-label goods and services are available in a wide range of industries from food to cosmetics etc. It is estimated that private-label products accounted for 14.5% of all US spending on consumer packaged goods.
It is also said that rising food-price inflation may prompt American shoppers to trade down from branded grocery products, and make them shop more of private-label products. This is definitely a rising section, so you can as well open a supermarket dedicated to selling private-label products.