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Best Exterior: Swiss Farms

Swiss Farms' new prototype in Ridley Township, Pa., is billed as the drive-thru dairy chain's speediest and most efficient drive-thru yet. Wanting to reposition its stores as "the customer's in-between shopping trip," Swiss Farms broadened its product offering to include fresh produce, baked goods and prepared meals, and challenged designers at Chute Gerdeman Retail in Columbus, Ohio, to create a new identity reflecting this shift.

The new prototype -- the company's 13th location -- communicates "fresh express" at a glance, and creates a "fresh from the farm" feel through the iconic rooster, sunrise imagery and new color palette. The curved horizon line gives the feeling of a landscape, and also speaks to the speed of the shopping process, according to the designers.

The drive-thru's exterior features fresh queues from European barn architecture, combined with a sleek shape and metal accents. Swiss Farms' barn motif also has been ramped up with the addition of an eye-catching, hand-painted silo.

In an effort to pull in new customers and make regulars aware of the expanded product offer, the new design includes a pylon LED sign for increased street visibility, and a series of 46-inch screens inside the store to communicate during the ordering process. Select screens are linked to a meteorological Web site and suggest products appropriate to the current time of day, as well as the weather conditions at the moment.

Shopping is also easier for customers in their cars thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the use of visual merchandising and strategically placed product displays.

Customer response to the prototype has been terrific, according to the design firm, and items per transaction at the new model are higher than at a legacy store. Swiss Farms plans to retrofit all 12 of its existing locations to this design over the next three years, and wants to open 100 new units through franchising within the next five years.
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