The evolving grocer

Rupal Karia
By , - InnovationRetail

Let’s face it, consumers today are increasingly demanding. When they want something they want it at the best price, with the best service, and they want it yesterday. Expectations have changed radically, and retailers are doing all they can to keep up.

While operating a 24-hour store once was what the market required, we’ve since seen Tesco decide to reduce its store opening times and more recently launch a competitive same day click and collect offering to match the habits of a customer base that increasingly shops with a virtual basket.

Consumers are now used to having more choice quite literally at their fingertips. Be it shopping online, via smartphone apps, or picking from a plethora of services like click and collect, home delivery and delivery lockers, there’s an option to suit everyone. And increasingly they don’t involve pushing a trolley down the aisles.

This is but one example of how digital evolution – if not revolution – has influenced changes in the world of bricks and mortar.

Although the e-grocery model has taken longer to become mainstream (when compared with other areas of retail) IDG predicts that online will remain the fastest growing grocery channel in the next five years.

Open all hours?

As a result, supermarkets have to think strategically to decide on the services they use to improve the quality of service for customers.

As 24-hour supermarkets are no longer required, long opening hours are viewed as an inefficient use of a store’s time, money, and resources.

In reducing its opening hours, Tesco will now be able to refocus its efforts on providing a better service to those customers for whom it is still most convenient to pay a personal visit. This of course applies particularly to those times at which the stores in question are likely to have a higher influx of customers.

Reduced hours mean employees will be more refreshed and energised too. It’s a cliché that happy employees make for happy customers, but it’s a cliché for a reason.

Feeling refreshed enables employees to provide that high quality of service that builds a brand’s reputation and is instrumental in driving greater levels of customer loyalty and retention – something which supermarkets could not survive without.

Covering all bases

If shoppers are spending less time in stores, then it makes sense to extend that offering online. There’s a growing pressure to maximise online and mobile offerings and deliver truly personalised services that stand out.

Enabled by technology, grocers are able to engage directly with shoppers to provide a service that’s optimised to their preferences.

In much the same way that supermarket shelves present shoppers with a range of options to pick from, the Web has become something of a supermarket shelf for service offerings.

Many consumers now use a number of channels before purchase to research and make decisions regarding products and where to buy them from.

Grocers alike need to provide customers with all of the tools to make fully-informed decisions via flawlessly integrated channels. Customers will be able to move freely from one to the other during their shopping experience.

The supermarkets that ensure they are digital from the inside out will be the ones to succeed. It’s about creating a balanced, efficient offering that caters for all audiences will be the ones who see success in the ever-changing retail environment – no mean feat, but certainly not an impossible one either.

Keeping it fresh

If grocers are to maintain and grow their customer bases it’s essential that they move forward and adapt their offerings to match the ever-changing behaviour of consumers.

With new players entering the market all the time (AmazonFresh one recent example), grocers need to find ways to differentiate themselves optimise their services. Tesco has demonstrated that it is doing this and listening to the needs of its customers. It will be interesting to see if others grocers mirror this and see how they can create the very best experiences both online and in-store.

Liked this post? Check out my recent piece about Brent Cross at 40 – how this iconic centre evolved in the retail revolution

Rupal Karia

Rupal Karia

Head of Commercial Sector at Fujitsu at Fujitsu UK&I
Rupal heads Fujitsu’s Commercial Sector encompassing Retail, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Utilities, Telecoms and Services; a business with a large number of household brands as clients.
Rupal Karia

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