The Pacemaker Is Gearing Up

By Christian Warning   read

Germany’s REWE To Go offers services to meet the needs of a mobile society that want to quickly gain their bearings and be on their way.

September 03, 2020

Since 2011, REWE Group, has been meeting the needs of the mobile society with its REWE To Go concept. At the beginning of 2020, the company had more than 550 such stores, most of which are located at Aral petrol stations, train stations, downtown pedestrian areas and airports—in other words, where lots of people constantly come and go.

I recently talked to the brains behind the concept: Philipp Pauly, head of REWE Convenience Formats; Dr. Alexander König, head of Business Development, REWE Convenience Formats; and David Safar, head of Category Management, REWE Convenience Formats.

“The store’s results at the train stations in Cologne and Bonn have really exceeded our expectations in terms of revenue and customer traffic,” said Pauly. “The enhanced REWE To Go concept provides the right product range for every location that has up to 300 square metres of space—all designed to meet customers’ needs.”

But those needs and habits are changing. Now, customers want even more variety, even more freshness and even more convenience. “In response to these trends, we specifically reworked our REWE To Go concept especially for high-frequency locations last year and made it even more modular,” said König. “Our goal is to make shopping even faster and more pleasant for customers, as well as to provide them with a product range that is designed with the particular location and customer needs in mind.”

Customers in a hurry want to quickly gain their bearings and be on their way. “To speed up the shopping experience, we optimised both our technologies and our processes in the store,” König said.

Nine self-checkout stations reduce wait times in the Cologne store and 50% of the  customers are already taking advantage of them. Customers can use a coffee machine to brew their favourite cup of exclusive Fairtrade and organic coffee from the new trendy brand COBEA Urban Coffee at the press of a button.

REWE’s young team of leaders applies the classic retailer cycle of “learn, do, deliver” to reinvent the format again and again and adapt it to the different types of locations.

REWE brought to life the new generation of the To Go concept at Cologne´s central station next to the city´s landmark cathedral, where each day about 350,000 people pass through. It is not far from the second train station where the new 160-square-metre REWE To Go format was introduced in Bonn. The station attracts more than 56,000 travelers and visitors each day. The new format boasts bright shelves, state-of-the-art refrigerating units, an innovative salad bar and wooden fruit baskets. The stores are stocked with 1,200 fresh, ready-to-eat products, including more than 100 private label brands.

“The focal point of the product range is immediate consumption,” said Safar. Portioned fruit, freshly pressed orange juice, straight-from-the-oven baked goods and sandwiches made in the store cater to customers who want balanced nutrition and healthy foods that taste great and can be eaten on the go. Customers also can select from the new hot foods menu featuring treats like homemade rosemary potatoes with sour cream, mango-carrot soup and a chorizo skillet.

Together with Lekkerland, REWE Group (winner of the 2017 NACS Insight Convenience Retail Sustainability Award), will offer new services to meet the needs of a mobile society. Part of REWE Group since 2020, Lekkerland specializes in consumption on the move. NACS member Lekkerland manages about 61,300 locations throughout Germany and employs about 2,750 staff. In the 2019 fiscal year, the company’s sales amounted to around 6.7 billion euros. In 2019, REWE Group achieved a total external turnover of around 63 billion euros. REWE Group, founded in 1927, is present in 24 European countries with more than 360,000 employees.

Christian Warning is founder and managing director of The Retail Marketeers, a Hamburg, Germany-based sales and marketing retail think tank. Christian worked with Royal Dutch/Shell for 13 years in different retail management functions and spearheaded Shell’s billion-dollar non-fuels retail business in Germany. He also developed Germany’s largest c-store franchise chain outside petrol filling stations as a senior manager of Deutsche Bahn/German rail. Christian is the NACS Regional Representative in the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region. 

Questions or comments? Contact Christian at or #NACSGlobal.