There is no question that the desires of consumers will continue to evolve. In the March 12 edition of Coffee With CART, the Advancing Retail team touched on various aspects of this evolution. Whether via interest in the newly released Apple Watch, the changing loyalty to stores and preference for restaurant eating, or the continued need for retailers to upgrade their technology to meet consumer demands, consumers are keeping grocery retailers on their toes. The diversity of those topics is vast, but all come together at some point in the grocery space. Coffee With CART explored how.
Wearables have been around for some time, but mostly in the form of fitness trackers. With the release of the new Apple Watch, day-by-day functionality will be readily available to consumers looking to simplify their lives. The new watch will link to Apple Pay, and new merchants, banks & retailers are joining on daily. One brand taking advantage of this is Starbucks with their expanded mobile ordering and pay option. This is yet another evolution in making the lives of consumers easier. The watch also has the potential to take a health monitoring device to the next step, linking relevant offers with the lifestyle choices of the consumer wearing it, translating health information over to food choices.
Those food choices continue to evolve. The Private Label Manufacturer’s Association released a study that showed consumers are showing more loyalty to grocery stores, shopping only 1-2 stores per trip instead of the believed 4-5 stores. This can be a good sign for retailers if the consumers are shopping their stores, but it not, the challenge of how to get those consumer back into the store remains. The study also shows more consumers are shopping private-label products, a win for retailers. What isn’t a win for grocery retailers though is the findings of a study by Yahoo which shows Americans spent more in restaurants than grocery stores in January 2015. To continue to draw consumers in their stores, retailers are changing the environment, offering beverages in store and introducing new fast-casual dining options.
Even with the enhancements to in-store services, retailers must take care of the nuts and bolts of marketing. These days that means maintaining the digital spaces that consumers frequent, keeping their website and apps updated and relevant. Yet also, retailers must ensure their back-end systems are in place for PCI compliance. This is complex for small retailers, but even more complex for larger ones. Two-thirds of all purchases are on credit cards, with more and more payment moving digital, retailers must be aware. Retail is a tough business and does not get any easier. Even sophisticated retailers have to be constantly out building their image in front of shoppers.
The final topic of this session of Coffee With CART was a discussion around kiosks. The Advancing Retail team argued that if the value proposition is right, customers will use them, but deploying and maintaining them can be spendy. Retailers must think about that perfectly good device in the consumer’s hand. An app likely brings more value than a kiosk for the retailer as it brings the rest of the data about the consumer into the equation. Whether location services or apps are the method of choice, retailers must always understand that with mobile, it is a personal device and a small screen, if they are going to put advertising on it, it needs to be relevant.
Consumers, like retailers, are always searching for what’s next, what’s out there, what’s new and making their lives easier. New wearables, mobile payment, changing taste and changing preferences don’t make retail easy, but sometimes make it pretty darn interesting.