GROCERY STORES REMAIN ONE OF THE MORE TRADITIONAL RETAIL; ERS and have yet to fully ex- plore the possibilities of the digital, omni-channel customer service tools. Perhaps this slow adoption
of digital communication strategy into the
daily grocery experience results from the
old school idea that it is an either/or paradigm—eliminating brick-and-mortar locations or focusing on digital. Are there other
options in this synergistic compromise?
Yes, there are, and the rewards for the early
adopting grocers could be huge.
Grocery store touch points for a customer shopping within
the aisles are typically
stockers, cashiers or possibly floor managers. But
imagine each customer
on every aisle empowered through your mobile
application to get instant
answers through the digital communication channel of their choice right
from their smartphone.
Consider the scenario
where the customer is
standing in front of the
wine section and needs a pairing idea,
standing in the pasta section for the third
visit and gluten-free bow ties are still out-of-stock or standing by the deli needing to
know which brand of turkey is nitrate-free.
How can the grocer get shoppers this valuable information quickly and accurately?
Via text, chat or even a phone call right
there in the aisle.
Grocery stores may be the best-po-sitioned retailer to execute a seamless
digital customer interaction and nobody
knows it yet. The smart grocer will engage
an expert to explore the possibilities and
begin to test these theories. Digital menus
and order-ahead is taking over the restaurant space and similar digital usage should
be accelerating in the grocery store.
Another digital age concern for grocery
stores has been the competitive threat
posed by Amazon and other online vendors. Grocery stores have the most brick-and-mortar locations and continue to
grow in their square footage. The majority of grocery shoppers still prefer buying in person, although online buying is
trending. So why not deploy digital tools
to allow online buying from the shopper’s
smartphone? It might be a way to cure an
out-of-stock issue, a means to expand shelf
space digitally and offer greater choice to
Stores themselves could be viewed as
inventory warehouses and distribution
points. Website-only companies need
distribution centers for inventory or part-
nerships with other merchants to try and
compete with the scale of the grocery
store’s massive physical presence. Who
wants to manage that many drop shippers
for consistency and customer experience?
By working with hundreds of drop ship-
pers retailers can move to the business of
compliance and quality in addition to their
Amazon has same day shipping in Seattle. Why? Because they have local capabilities. Who else has same day shipping opportunities with local capabilities? Grocers.
Delivery methods might be an obstacle, but that can be solved. Grocery
stores have the neighborhood presence
and inventory to be primed for same day
opportunities at a large scale edging out
competitors that ship and deliver similar
products. Several years ago the U.S. Postal Service partnered with private shippers because they had more distribution
points. The process was a customer nightmare for tracking packages but the idea
still has value. Amazon cannot build fast
enough to equal the number of grocery
stores. Grocery stores have thousands of
locations to support massive website orders with faster delivery options supported by readily available inventory.
Grocers are in a great position to integrate digital communication with the
brick-and-mortar customer experience to
increase revenue and customer satisfaction. Grocery stores’ large customer base
and vast physical presence is prime for
digital enabled sales acceleration. Using
digital communication channels such as
text, chat and video calls, improved website capabilities, and mobile apps focusing
on shopping will drive revenue generation
and customer loyalty, while offering the
consumer a choice of how to communicate real time with the stores; propelling
the grocer forward in growth. S
Tracey Sche;er is president of
Consumer Services. She can be
reached at Tracey_sche;er@
DIPPING INTO DIGITAL
Grocers can integrate digital communication with the brick-and-mortar shopping
experience to increase revenue and customer satisfaction.
By Tracey Scheffler