If you give a shopper a sandwich, they might want something to drink. If you give them something to drink, they might want a place to sit down. If you give them a place to sit down, they might want to stay a while. If they stay a while, they might get hungry. If they get hungry, they might want a sandwich.
Today, shoppers are making fewer trips to the grocery store. Fewer shoppers rely on the supermarket as their go-to grocer. Growing eCommerce models threaten both the traditional store trip and the size of grocery baskets. Retailers must make better and faster strategic decisions based on how the shopper thinks and navigates. They must make the shopping experience simple and inspirational. The challenge with this is a fundamental shift away from “category” management where profit and loss statements are confined to a single category. It is a fundamental shift away from a static amount of in-store real estate and a staff that stocks shelves. It is a strategic shift towards shopper centric “total store” management.
I was on vacation last week at the beach. Don’t you just love vacation, a time to unplug and unwind? I was so proud of myself. For the first time, I used the click and collect service at a local grocery store. It was awesome! It saved me at least two hours of precious beach time. However, while I was very excited about the time I saved, I arrived at my condo with my groceries, and realized I didn’t have a full meal. Not once during my online shopping experience was I shown a recipe or meal idea that would complement the products I purchased. What a missed opportunity! Ultimately, I made a menu and returned to the grocery store. Sure, this could be considered poor planning on my part, but did you know that over 80% of shoppers do not know what they are going to eat an hour before dinner?
If only the retailer I shopped had a better idea about total store management (online and in-store), I would have had a larger basket ring, a better shopping experience, and a better chance I would be loyal to them in the future.
The idea behind total store management is that an in-store shopping experience should be designed in such a way that it would provide solutions, ideas, and inspiration for key eating occasions or meals. Most shoppers in a grocery store revolve their shopping around the idea of meal times; breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. Therefore, it’s important to start considering the role of a category in a total store/aisle context and how the location of products can be a better intuitive fit for the shopper. If we know that most shoppers think about meal times on a stock up trip, wouldn’t it make sense to layout a store that way? I know this is easier said than done. Traditional operational hurdles are likely the most difficult to overcome. However, more and more grocery stores are starting to show signs of progress. Some stores are displaying meal solutions on end caps that include refrigeration such as a roast or cuts of meat, with all the accompanying vegetables displayed together. Other retailers are putting food like refrigerated dips in the aisle with chips, while others are grouping together breakfast items like eggs and sausage. There are even retailers adding restaurants inside their stores or providing a space where a bottle of wine can be purchased, opened, and enjoyed with an in-store deli meal.
Clearly, total store management methodology isn’t rocket science but it has taken a long time to get here. The pressure of competing with the convenience and ease of online shopping is helping us realize the need to give shoppers a reason to leave the comfort of home shopping. Shoppers have said they want a value and seamless shopping experience. A knowledgeable sales staff who can demonstrate product offerings, explain product, help assist with on line look up, and who is friendly, is still the best weapon to defend against online sales.
In the end, retailers who find a way to interact with shoppers will likely be the ones offering the shopper a sandwich.
*Director, Category Leadership, Walmart & Grocery East – Tyson Foods
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.