Insights

How Customer Expectation Places the Old Retail Grocery Experience On the Shelf

Director, Digital Marketing Strategy US
Valtech

February 24, 2016

The Retail Grocery Experience Has a Full Basket

Powerful forces are reshaping the once simple grocery experience. A category that historically evolved in a deliberate pace is now transforming rapidly. Today’s grocers have much to contend with, such as:

  • New shopper demographics that sets the bar high when it comes to what they want digital to do for them.
  • Competitors in urban markets that are incubating smaller store formats with offerings curated around freshness and local craft.
  • The realization that the knowledge and nutritional solutions, which influence their customers’ health, wellness decisions, and dollars, sit squarely within their core competencies.

Consumers with higher expectations will shed their old loyalties and look for grocery experiences that best suit their needs and lifestyles.

They crave a new grocery experience, and expect it to be the following:

Personalized and Predictive

All customers are unique and require highly focused recommendations and solutions around health, cooking, food events, value, and loyalty. To stay relevant and responsive, merchants must leverage all their existing customer data – purchase history, brand preferences, timing, basket size and composition, and health profiles – to effectively target offers, services and campaigns.

With personalization comes the need for rich product and solution narratives to communicate details on use, sourcing, sustainability, and packaging. Transparency and clarity of information are critical to satisfy increasingly savvy consumers who want a clear view into quality as well as their grocers’ brand values.

For large format stores with extensive inventory, personalization is critical to help customers quickly understand their best options and make discovery relevant and rewarding.

In the near future, digital tools will be always-present and predictive. The capability to process the complete customer context (i.e. location, past behavior, search, biometric feedback) will enable marketers to serve up ideas, inspiration and answers in exactly the right moment without implicit customer action.

Brand-Centric

Customers want a consistent and convenient brand experience. Grocery brands need to master all touch points including in-store, mobile, desktop, curb-to doorstep, pick-up collection areas, connected appliances and wearables. What customers potentially find most valuable about the in-store experience must find expression across all these iterations.

Supportive of Meal Planning

Customers, especially families, need help understanding how prepared meal solutions and recipes support their taste, special diets and schedule preferences throughout their day.

Through simple, collaborative and mobile friendly meal planning, grocers can successfully market more profitable prepared foods while also helping their customers answer the “what’s for dinner” question.

Focused on Health & Wellness

Many customers have strong health aspirations and need help adopting wellness practices. Grocers must go beyond the generic and non-actionable health content that lives within their digital experiences. Usable and accessible information helps customers better understand their healthy food and organic options. Customer adherence to wellness plans requires product innovation and technology that bring them closer to expertise and appropriate options, reward success through existing loyalty programs, communicate results in simplified account toolboxes, and expanding selection and taste alternatives.

In this new reality, grocers are adapting. There is, however, more they can do to engineer connected experiences to serve and engage their customers as they shop in and out of the store.

Ultimately, to close the grocery experience gaps that stand in the way of seamless omni-channel commerce, retailers must evaluate:

  • Customer personas and journeys to align products and services to behavior
  • Technology that makes it easier for customers to accomplish their goals
  • Content strategy to support decision-making
  • Data sources to ensure they are consolidated and consistent