From meal kit delivery services to Amazon’s Echo, disruptors come in many forms, and grocers have an “epic battle for influence” on their hands.
Robert Howard, managing director at global consulting firm Kurt Salmon, offered words of warning to attendees of Retail Council of Canada’s two-day Store 2017 conference in Toronto.
Conventionally, shoppers made a list for their weekly visit to the grocery store. Now, thanks to advances in technology, a consumer can order items on demand and have it delivered to their front door.
“Traditional grocery doesn’t have stranglehold the way it used to,” said Howard. “Amazon is the Trojan horse and setting up camp and circumventing that demand chain before people start to even think about the grocery store.”
Grocers must remain relevant throughout the customer journey and really understand what it is the shopper wants and needs, said Howard. Communicating through coupons and flyers is no longer enough.
It’s important to understand dietary needs, health concerns or even something as basic as learning how to cook, he said. How-to cooking videos have become the rage online, and it’s an area grocers can leverage.
Demand for the online grocery options will continue to increase and grocers will need to embrace digital and use it as an engagement tool – digital displays in store, social media and interactive videos are a few of the ways grocers can do this, said Howard.
And, what’s old may very well be new again. Howard pointed to home milk delivery as an example of a once coveted and convenient service, which isn’t so different from what consumers seek today.
“Start testing home delivery if that’s what consumers demand” he urged. “We can’t lose them to Amazon.”
Howard advised the grocers at the session to continually evaluate the marketplace and what the consumer is demanding. “Be proactive and think differently about the role we have in the food retail process," he said.
Are you ready to survive the brave new world of food retailing?