The food retailing industry seems to be constantly bracing for the next move by Amazon. Retailers and brands alike are wondering how will they shake up an already disrupted marketplace. And with good reason.
At this year’s Future of Food Retailing webinar—presented on June 18 by the Food Institute and Inmar—Craig Rosenblum, regional vice president of enterprise retail at Inmar, and I shared information aggregated by Inmar’s analytics and retail teams and took a deep dive into the implications of Amazon’s expansion into brick and mortar grocery. Our research and analysis surfaced these key strategies that retailers and brands should commit to in order to thrive rather than just survive:
Personalizing Omnichannel Shopper Engagement
Engagement must be personalized to the shopper and extend across channels. Personalization is no longer a buzzword; it’s a requirement. From messaging to promotions to method of delivery, retailers and brands have to be cohesive in their connection with shoppers and ensure they’re delivering value at every touchpoint.
Shoppers are consulting their phones in-store before making purchases looking for reviews, offers, inspirational recipes and how-tos. Brands and retailers that anticipate this need, and make it convenient to discover value and inspiration will set themselves apart.
Enabling a Stellar In-Store Experience
With the expectation that Amazon will bring the same customer-centric mindset to their physical store, those who wish to remain competitive will have to deliver a comparative—or better—in-store experience.
The grocery retailers that rank highest in customer satisfaction are those that offer shoppers an in-store experience that is as enjoyable as it is economical. In a 2018 study by Market Force Information, Wegmans, Publix and Trader Joe’s took the top spots for shoppers’ favorite grocery store chains with those surveyed citing food demonstrations, knowledgeable and friendly staff, cleanliness, item availability and speed to check out as the primary reasons for choosing them.
Trading partners will be well-served to collaborate in creating an elevated in-store experience that spotlights both product and environment.
Building and Maintaining Trust
Online-only platforms have been plagued by counterfeit items that erode the trust between them and the shopper. As a virtual marketplace protected by anonymity, shoppers are at the mercy of the sellers.
Of products purchased online in the past three months, only 36% were packaged goods compared to personal care items which made up 57%. There was a major drop off with other consumables. Frozen foods, dairy or other refrigerated items were only 16% of the products purchased online (Inmar 2018 e-Commerce Study).
Inside the store, shoppers feel secure that the product they are buying is what they expect it to be. They can inspect the item before they buy, and there are store clerks to help them make the best selections. Brand sponsored events, and in-store demonstrations are good ways to strengthen the trust that shoppers have.
To view the 2019 Future of Food Retailing webinar, click here. Keep an eye out for the 2019 Future of Food Retailing Report to be released in July.
—Jim Hertel, Senior Vice President, Inmar