As I reflect on the state of food retailing today and where it is heading, several areas are at the top of my mind: online shopping (it’s here), and the in-store experience (and how younger shoppers rate it). While these topics are front and center in many of our daily conversations with colleagues, clients and customers, I’ll elaborate on what I feel is most significant about each in depth below, the insights for which are based in part
on our most recent U.S. Supermarket Experience Study.
Online Shopping—It’s Game Time
Online shopping is growing. Our research says about half
of online shoppers plan to purchase grocery items more
often in the coming year, and that overall satisfaction with
online grocery shopping is similar across all age groups.
Amazon is coming on strong with high satisfaction across
the online grocery shopping experience, beating out supermarkets at what should be a default home field advantage.
Further, Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods will likely
GROWING YOUR BIZ
accelerate joint learning that will benefit both companies,
potentially strengthening its stance in the future.
One of the biggest objections as it relates to willingness
to shop online is produce. Eight of 10 online shoppers indicated that freshness and quality were the top factors they
consider to be “very important” when purchasing produce
online. Among those who do not purchase produce online,
the top reasons were wanting to choose fresh fruit and
vegetable items themselves (66%), followed by concerns
that produce items might not be fresh enough (55%).
While you may not persuade the folks who absolutely
want to touch and feel their produce about the benefits of
buying it online, retailers that succeed in demonstrating
the freshness proposition may well capture more sales.
Both Online and In-Store Opportunities Matter
We know that people shop at a store and online for different reasons. Online shoppers want convenience and
to make the most efficient use of their time. On the other
hand, in-store shopping strengths include quality and
freshness, offering a better selection of products, making
shoppers feel more valued as a customer, providing better
customer service, showing the company knows and cares
about food, and providing more value for the money.
Meanwhile, some areas register as a draw across both
real and virtual grocery shopping, including pleasantly
surprising, enjoyable experiences and more attention to
detail with securing payments and personal information.
While in-store retailing has inherent advantages in some
of these important areas today, brick-and-mortar retailers
can’t afford to be complacent. Online retailers will strive
to learn and reshape these areas in the future and negate
some of the advantages. Retailers operating both food
retailing channels should leverage the strengths of each.
Millennials Aren’t Buying It
Another revealing nugget from our 2017 Supermarket
Experience Study: Millennials scored supermarkets the
lowest on all core experience factors, as well as overall
trip satisfaction. Boomers, on the other hand, rated overall trip experience and nearly all core experience factors
highest (and only one area—staff knowledge/helpful-ness—was rated the same by both boomers and Gen X).
These low ratings by millennials need to be a call to
action for supermarkets. Failure to make the supermarket
more relevant and appealing to these younger shoppers
could endanger the future of the traditional supermarket.
In the end, supermarket retailers must look at all forms
of shopping, leveraging both the in-store experience and
the online experience, to compete going forward. Retailers
must also find ways to engage younger shoppers to ensure
long-term viability. The food industry is changing rapidly,
so it’s prime time to plan and execute for a bright future.
Brian Numainville is a
principal with the Retail
Priming for a
How to leverage online shopping, in-store experiences
and differing consumer bases. By Brian Numainville