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With a fully-stocked bendy bus, REWE brings groceries to rural Germany

Germany will soon see the arrival of a new mobile shopping experience, as food retailer REWE and railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) pilot a supermarket-on-wheels that they'll drive to the doorsteps of rural communities in northern Hesse.

DB converted an articulated bus (aka a bendy bus) into a grocery store offering a full range of 700 products, including a wide selection of regional and organic goods from Hesse. The bus features extra air conditioning and can be operated for up to eight hours using rechargeable batteries.

Starting in spring, Der REWE Einkaufs-Bus will serve rural areas lacking a supermarket, allowing people to shop without driving long distances. In addition to offering convenience, REWE hopes the bus will fulfill a social function by providing a space where villagers will run into each other.

Woman with shopping basket inside grocery bus

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The shopping bus is an innovative way to bring essential goods to rural districts, reducing the need for individual trips by car and offering a much-needed service to people who don't have their own means of transport. Other brands in the retail sector: one to explore for under-served communities in your area? Partnering with a local transportation company — as REWE did with Deutsche Bahn —  seems key.

The bus isn't REWE's only initiative focused on bringing groceries to smaller towns and villages. Last year, the retailer launched nahkauf BOX, an unstaffed mini-mart stocked with daily groceries.

Related: In Johannesburg, a zero-waste grocery bus saves money as well as packaging.