Do grocery stores have a customer engagement problem?
Consumers’ weekly grocery shopping trips have declined from 2.1 visits per week in 2006 to 1.6 in 2018, according to Statista. Shoppers now have tons of new formats and food solution options, from online same-day delivery, curbside pick-up and restaurant delivery to subscriptions and direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings from CPGs. Consumers demand convenience and value as well as more variety, information on ingredients, and healthful, sustainable and ready-to-eat meal and snack options.
How can traditional grocery operators inspire shoppers, given that how they want to shop is becoming as important as what they buy? I believe operators would be smart to:
Offer solutions (not just food)
I just attended the grand opening of a Sprouts Farmers Market in urban Philadelphia. The store was jam-packed with solutions to the “what to eat” dilemma that supported the company’s “healthy living for less” mantra. I was impressed (and you know I am a harsh judge) with the larger store format, which was assorted to engage customers. It was clear that considerable thought was given to everything, from curating stations by purpose to the clever sayings on its reusable shopping bags.
Make it easy (and fun)
Harness the power of technology to understand and engage customers, including data and analysis for customers, promotions and inventory optimization. Invest in educated, enthusiastic and available associates. Simplify layouts — especially the dreaded checkout — and guide shoppers to not only find what’s on their list, but to discover new items. Provide clear signage, fun messages like “Where You Bin All My Life” in the bulk area to inform, entice and amuse customers.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the keys for grocers looking to increase customer engagement? What grocery operators do you think are best at engaging customers in stores?