Wundermart: The new must-have 24/7 shop for hotels?
Hotel Owner spoke to Chris Boud, UK sales manager, about how Wundermart operates, why it’s a must-have for modern hotels, and how the product continues to evolve.
Wundermart is an autonomous 24/7 grab-and-go convenience store concept set within a hotel. After launching in Amsterdam, it now operates internationally in over five countries, partnering with some of the biggest chains in the world, including Hilton, IHG, Marriott and Radisson.
What was the inspiration behind Wundermart?
It started with the co-founders designing snacks, like nuts and raisins, to go into hotels around the Netherlands to give a little service for their guests. We felt that the current offering for guests – mini bars – offered very little variety, are usually not restocked in time and do not cater for what guests actually want. So a simple grab and pay model with more variety was an ideal solution. It gives guests what they need and because it is autonomous, and there is little impact on time for hotel staff.
It took off, selling really well in quite a few of the hotels, to the point where we had hoteliers requesting more items and different assortments.This then lent itself to then actually creating a designated retail space within hotel lobbies, which then formed where we are now with Wundermart
How does it operate?
First of all, we install the shop into the hotel lobby itself. It’s really important that the location of the shop is visible to the reception area. This is so it can be seen by the hotel staff if it is unmanned, but also because that’s where most of the traffic is coming from with guests walking in and out and around the hotel. What we stock the shop with will depend on if it’s a small, medium or large shop, but generally it will have cold drinks, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, non alcoholic beverages, and then also some fresh food in the morning such as breakfast bowls, wraps and sandwiches. Stocking is data driven, so we can continually update our shop based on what actual sales are indicating customers want.
It will also have a shelving unit with sweets on one side and savoury on the other, and what we call an ‘impulse shelving’on the side of the payment terminal. This consists of electrical items, accessories, chargers, power adapters, and toiletries, which we know guests usually forget to pack and therefore sell extremely well within hotels. We track every purchase and make sure that products are automatically re-stocked when supply is running low. This way we keep the shelves full and that offers more opportunities to sell items. Each month, we create a P&l that shows the cost of services that have been incurred for running the shop, and the hotel then receives their profit. On average our shops deliver 30%-40% net profit to the hotel each month.
What was behind the decision to enter the UK market?
We had a huge market share in the Netherlands already, as well as having great success in Belgium and Germany. We brought in what we call a ‘Firestarter team’to come into the UK at the back end of last year to test the market. What we found was a real need for a smart and innovative retail solution within hotels, driven by guests wanting that grab-and-go convenient solution 24/7. That might be an umbrella at two o’clock to go to the train station, or a sandwich in the morning while waiting for a taxi. While engaging with general managers and operational managers across hotel groups in London, we found a real thirst for that as an offering. At the moment we are already present in cities like London and Manchester, and we are growing fast.
What makes Wundermart a ‘must-have’for Hotels?
Hotels always want to diversify their service offering to guests, and they are always looking for different revenue streams outside of just selling rooms in their hotels. At the same time, we know that hotels are already moving away from mini-bars; they’re not profitable, and generally don’t give very good guest satisfaction. So what’s the alternative? A lobby mini-market, open 24/7, with a huge variety, lots of better products, that is better priced. But to actually deliver this well, it requires focus and expertise, which adds an extra burden onto Hotels. That is where Wundermart provides that high end focus for performance, and we are able to bring a brand new revenue stream into the hotel.
How do you develop and evolve the product?
We have standard models of our shop, which tend to fit in with most hotels. We are able to ensure that we’re putting the right products on the shelves in each hotel. We can look at the type of products and see what’s selling and what’s not selling, and what’s good in certain countries and regions. We can tailor it to add a local flavour; for example if there is a known brewery nearby we can stock the shop with beer from it. And we also know that there are specific products within the shop that sell exceptionally well across the board in all of our hotels. What we have essentially is a plug and play Lego build of a shop, which is designed to fit in hotel lobbies, offering different consumption options for guests to grab-and-go. It’s a service that guests need and will seek out anyway, so why not provide it from within the hotel, while adding another revenue stream to the site.