Grocery shoppers are making their preferences clear.
They are increasingly returning to more in-store shopping after relying heavily on e-commerce during much of the pandemic.
Independent grocers I spoke with at the recent NGA Show confirmed a shift but pointed out that things aren’t exactly going back to the way they were. Ecommerce will remain a permanent part of the mix and the future will likely involve hybrid shopping approaches, from in-store to online. Importantly, as shoppers increasingly patronize physical grocery stores, their perspectives about in-store shopping are different than before.
COVID has increased a pre-pandemic divide between two shopper groups — those who seek in-store experiences and those preferring in-store efficiency. You might call this a tale of two grocery shoppers in the new normal.
The efficiency shopper group became more enamored with the organized nature of online shopping, which enables features such as reordering easily from lists and quickly filtering choices. This group of consumers is now hoping to replicate that type of efficiency for in-store shopping.
The experience-focused shopper group found online shopping monotonous and missed being able to visit physical stores. These consumers have been frustrated by not being able to smell and taste products, browse the aisles for new items, and personally choose their own fresh goods. Not surprisingly, as they return to stores, they seek enjoyable experiences that stimulate the senses.
Interestingly, these two types of shoppers often live in the same household, including in my own. I’m an experiential shopper, even more so in the wake of the pandemic. My wife is more efficiency-focused in food shopping.
Retailers need to take different approaches to satisfy each of these shopper types. AppCard’s advanced shopper retention platform helps retailers to identify shopper preferences and pursue relevant marketing campaigns for each one. While this is accomplished through advanced automation, data analytics, and personalization strategies, the result is actually to simplify the complexities for grocery retailers and customize engagement with shoppers. Here’s how all this becomes actionable through different marketing approaches.
-Targeting Efficiency Shoppers: Your messaging to efficiency-focused shoppers should not be about experience. For efficiency shoppers, remind them when they need to replenish products, based on their buying history. And make sure that in-store layouts help support their efficiency goals.
-Pleasing Experiential Shoppers: Your marketing for this type of consumer should focus on new products and experiences. Maybe you have a new in-store café or an upgraded fresh department to promote. Maybe you just introduced a new flavor of yogurt and want to spotlight other products that compliment it.
-Choosing Rewards Strategies: Your strategies around loyalty and reward redemptions should be different for each type of shopper. The efficiency shopper typically wants to redeem points to repurchase items. The experience-focused consumer, on the other hand, will likely use rewards to buy new items, and may cash in points to trade up to more upscale products. So your marketing needs to be on target for each case.
This brings me to a fascinating insight about grocers in the wake of the pandemic. They understand the value of effective technology more than before. At AppCard, we can see that retailers are increasingly monitoring their marketing dashboards and reports. They are studying the data and exploring the implications.
This isn’t surprising to me, for a couple of reasons. First, it seems that everyone has become more tech-savvy in the virtual communications world of COVID-19. Second, food retailers increasingly realize their biggest competition is no longer traditional stores, but rather tech companies — and I’m not just talking about Amazon. A flood of emerging and heavily funded tech-driven companies are disrupting food retail and how it operates. Independent grocers realize they need to enhance their knowledge of technology and make smart decisions about the best tech solutions.
At AppCard, we use advanced technology to support independents — not to compete with them. We are an enabler and a consultant with the goal of helping retailers enhance marketing and loyalty. We provide tools such as data mining and analytics to enable them to compete — including against tech-driven competitors.
The shopper landscape will continue to evolve but the new consumer behaviors I described will last for quite some time. Independent grocers have long been the leaders in understanding their unique shopper bases. With the right marketing tools and support, they are positioned to win in the future.
AppCard is a Member of the Intel IoT Solutions Alliance. A global ecosystem of more than 800 industry leaders, the Alliance offers its Members unique access to intel Technology, expertise, and go-to-market support, accelerating deployment os best-in-class solutions.
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