Independents continue to rely on technology just like the tier one giants. And technology does not have to be just beacons, IoT and e-commerce. What about understanding buying habits and personalizing offers based on those habits, or even something as simple as offering digital coupons? Both provide immediate impact in-store, not to mention the increase in service levels to customers. Even if those service levels are just perceived, customers will notice. And that’s the goal, right?
Many store systems link shelf location to items and ultimately sales of those items but even with dramatic advances in technology many don’t. Even if data availability is an option, managing the shelf locations accurately is time intensive. Most likely, grocers aren’t able to easily pull sales reports by locations, compare that data with items that aren’t selling and then quickly make decisions to enhance displays. Sure, the reports exist for some of this analysis, but going beyond the reports, the more important piece is suggesting what to do next. Limited time, limited resources, limited capital and no immediacy to proving return all add up to the notion “it’s a cost, not an investment.”
Benefits from a program like Target Circle will only come nationally if Target adapts the program to local demographics. To put the program in perspective, the retailer is providing $1 for every $100 spent. Not sure that is enough incentive to switch even a modestly satisfied customer from a competitor, especially in middle, middle to upper, middle America.
Shopping as a delivery mechanism will adapt. Remember the classic catalog store/showroom stores, like Best Products? Grocers and other retail outlets may take a similar approach to help better control inventory. Instead of visiting a store to select a product that will be delivered on a set of conveyor belts, consumers create their initial requests online or in-app, then pick up their order at a smaller concept store or delivery center. Many grocers are testing this basic concept today with curbside pickup options. The next step will be outlets that only offer pickup. Sure, there will be full service stores too, just fewer and farther between.