3 Trends Impacting Supermarkets

In a recent article published by ECRM, a support organization that provides business solutions to retailers by integrating process, vision and technology, three key trends were identified as having a significant impact on the grocery retail field:

“The U.S. food retailing business has never been more competitive, the article said. “A number of trends are putting pressure on food retailers of all stripes…”

The article went on to suggest that the food retail business is evolving and “the customer is king!” Data from a study done by Packaged Facts was also shared, identifying three key trends as “shaping” the food and beverage retail market:

  • The incursion of e-commerce onto the food retailing landscape
  • The evolution and expansion of contactless payment options
  • The rise of the smaller store formats

Read the full article…

In-store v. On-line Shopping?

33% of all grocery shoppers will shop online this year, according to a recent article posted on retailcustomerexperience.com, which shared data from the 2017 Grocery eCommerce Forecast from Unata and in partnership with Brick Meets Click.

The article notes that ‘egrocery’ is gaining greater consumer attention and 31 percent of shoppers are likely to order online, up from 19 percent last year.

The article also states that seventy-five-percent of shoppers will switch grocers if there is a better shopping experience to be had, and sixty-eight percent of shoppers who had shopped online the previous year are “somewhat” or “very” likely to switch to a grocer offering a better online shopping experience.

However, when looking at retail in total, a Modern Consumer survey shows that fifty-six percent of U.S. consumers prefer a brick and mortar shopping channel, and 93 percent of customer journeys involve multiple channels. The survey, which polled 1,000 U.S. shoppers, also revealed that over seventy-percent browse for products online before buying in a physical store, and only 10 percent of shoppers mainly shop online.

So while it seems that shoppers in general lean more toward the in-store buying experience, many more leverage on-line shopping in advance and an increasing number of grocery shoppers are trending toward the on-line experience, at least some of the time.

“Quick” Customer Experience Analysis

As you most likely know, “Omnichannel” refers to a type of retail that integrates the different methods of shopping available to consumers (i.e., online, in-store, phone…).

While some say the concept is just a fancier way of describing cross-channel sales, others profess that “Omnichannel” goes further to encompass the continuity of the shopping or customer experience (CX).

To further illustrate this perspective, Todd Leach
VP, Client Insights at Service Management Group (SMG), an organization that focuses on customer and employee experience, writes that Omnichannel is changing consumer expectations and, in one of his blog posts, suggests that “speed” is high on the expectation list.

“Above all else, speed means seamless,” Leach says. “…and the idea of seamless is the root of an Omnichannel experience. Customer information must be available across multiple touch points throughout the customer journey to help make interactions with your brand both efficient and effective. Remembering a customer’s most-purchased items makes checkout a breeze…  a push notification lets them open your app when they come near a store… one-click check-out saves customers from having to give the same information over and over again. These small details make a huge difference in a smooth and efficient customer experience—and that translates to a favorable brand perception and a boost in customer loyalty.”

It seems the online and in-store experiences are merging to better serve customers. The question is, will this ongoing evolution and the associated impact on the customer experience also drive customer loyalty?

 

Employee Engagement Might Be the Key Differentiator for Lidl

Based on statistics published by smallbusiness.chron.com,  employee turnover averages 100 percent in the grocery industry. Cashiers, order fillers and stock clerks have the highest turnover rates, and the cost of replacing just one supermarket cashier is at least $3,637.

But more troubling than the cost, this turnover has a negative impact on the customer experience.

This perspective is consistent with information shared recently on fooddive.com, which states, “Never mind store designs, or prices, or any of the other issues potential competitors have been concerned about: While those issues are all important, so are the ways employees are treated… retaining employees helps to build a cohesive team and a solid shopping experience.

The article goes on to cite the rapid growth of German grocery chain Lidl, whose accelerated U.S. expansion is making many take notice. The grocery chain’s first 20 stores will open this summer in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

But along the lines of engaging employees, the chain has a plan to attract and retain the best talent by offering one of the most generous benefits and compensation packages in the industry. “The program is designed to ensure that Lidl U.S. employees are recognized and rewarded for their talents, feel valued for their contributions and are motivated to continue to grow their careers with us,” the article said.

Store associates will receive starting salaries of $12 per hour, plus benefits, according to a Lidl press release.  Possibly more important than the robust pay rate is the robust benefits plan, which includes medical, dental and vision insurance with flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) and retirement plan with employer contribution, life insurance, disability insurance, an employee assistance program, paid time off, time off for volunteering, commuter benefits and company sponsored social and fitness events.

Clearly Lidl leadership has a strong appreciation for its workforce and values the concept of employee engagement. If the correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction proves true, which we believe it will, it will be interesting to see what happens over the course of 2017, during which time Lidl plans to open 100 U.S. stores.

The Experience Economy?

Continuing with our previous post’s topic of the “shopping experience,” a recent SupermarketNews article referenced an emerging trend called the “Experience Economy.”

According to the article, for a growing number of consumers it is simply not enough to provide competitive pricing, selection, and convenience. Instead, the article suggests, individuals are now seeking “memories” when shopping, which can come in the form of in-store education, additional services, entertainment, or other offerings that engage shoppers.

To simplify the planning process, it is recommended that supermarkets focus on four “quadrants” to enhance the shopping experience:

Entertainment. Live engagement with shoppers — such as cooking and pairing demonstrations, as well as wine and beer samplings.

Education. Examples of this could include in-store cooking classes, “stories” behind the sourcing and production of products, and meal ideas.

Esthetic. (spelled with an “e”) In-store amenities such as restaurants, wine bars, and cafés.

Escapism. Tasting new cuisine and flavors can mentally whisk shoppers off to new locales or inspire them to experiment with new ingredients.

Read the full article… 

Shopping Experience & Center Store Growth

An AMG Strategic Advisors report defines “Center Store” as: Packaged Food, Beverages, Health & Beauty Care, General Merchandise, and Home Care.

Industry insiders say that center store sales have declined over the past several years.

However, a recent SupermarketNews article shares some interesting perspectives on this issue; and while the piece acknowledges the fact that growing center store sales is difficult, it also suggests a simple approach to solving the problem.

The article quoted Scott Lewis, VP, operations, at Harmon City Inc. , who said, “The answer [to growing center store sales…] is focusing on the shopper experience.”

“One benefit of being an independent grocer is the ability to react quickly to new consumers and trends. It’s hard to go to Amazon and browse for a new product — but it’s easy to do in a store. We try to create a treasure hunt in our stores where you’re going to find something new in those center store aisles. That’s what people are looking for in their shopping experience.”

The article also suggests pairing like products with their fresh counterparts as another method for enhancing the shopping experience and, in so doing, growing center store sales.

Read the full article…

Supermarkets of the Future Fast Approaching!

Several past posts have shared details about radical new changes that are being tested by various supermarket chains.

Well, the trend seems to be continuing according to a recent NY Post article, which gives the scoop on Amazon’s latest innovation: a two-story, automated grocery store in which a staff of robots on the floor upstairs grabs and bags items for shoppers below!

The “futuristic prototype” is based on the recently unveiled “Amazon Go” convenience store, “with a bigger layout that could span anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 square feet.”

The article goes on to explain that Amazon’s plan is to stock these bigger stores with items people prefer to see before buying. In addition, these bigger stores are expected to operate with fewer  employees – possibly as few as 3 to 10 workers per shift!

Read the full story… 

Should Supermarkets Partner for Fast Track to Online Sales?

In an effort to more easily ramp-up online shopping , some supermarkets have opted to partner with third-party service-providers like Instacart, Postmates and Google Express.

This option can make sense, especially when you consider the various processes involved and the time it might take to create and fine-tune them.

This perspective was expressed in a recent Retail Dive article,  which stated, “With deep knowledge of consumer analytics and logistics, these providers can quickly get products into the hands of customers — sometimes, in as little as one hour.”

But the article also raised a few good questions about brand loyalty and customer relationships…

Read the full article

On-line Grocery Seen as Gaining Traction in 2017 & Will Require New Process Imrpovement

A recent SupermarketNews article predicts that on-line grocery shopping will continue to gain traction again this year.

According to the article, consumers and food retailers are becoming more comfortable with the concept of shopping for groceries via the Internet.

“The rate of acceleration of change is increasing drastically,” said Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click. “We sense 2017 is going to be a year of major change.”

The article went on to site research indicatiing that the number of active users of online grocery — those who have ordered groceries online at least once in the last 30 days — nearly doubled from 11% of households in 2013 to 21% of households in 2015, and he expects that proportion to have doubled again since then.

Key factors driving the growth include:

  • Increasing availability
  • Diversity of features available as new players enter the market with a range of alternatives for consumers, such as click-and-collect delivery options and a variety of product assortments
  • Online grocery might also be getting more affordable

It was also noted that an increasing number of major supermarket chains are driving the trend toward on-line shopping, and that the entire industry will need to master new protocols and work processes to optimize efficiency.

Insight Into Shelf-side Decision Making?

A recent article published by advancingretail.org shared some interesting information about understanding shopper behavior at the shelf.

“Understanding true shopper behavior in the store has become the latest battlefield in the fast moving consumer goods industry,” the article states.

Citing studies that show an estimated 76% of purchase decisions are made in the store, the article goes on to suggest that adding even a single product to a small percentage of shopping trips could equate to significant increases in sales revenue.

Wondering if there’s a way to accomplish this?

According to the article, Shopperception, a company with locations in Delaware and Buenos Aires, offers a platform that is able to “digitize shopper behavior in much the same way marketers are able to understand shoppers’ behavior online.”

Apparently their platform uses three-dimensional sensors combined with sophisticated algorithms to generate the data.

Assuming the decision-making that will be based on the consumer preferences translated by this data is combined with high levels of customer service, could this be a win-win opportunity for shoppers and supermarkets alike?