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Coffee with CART (7/16): The digital tipping point of retail

Love it or hate it, technology advances will continue to affect almost every part of our lives. Retailers can no longer deny that they have to enter the digital space to succeed in today’s marketplace. This includes grocery stores — even independent grocers. In order to compete with the larger chains, small independent grocers must enhance their digital channels on a smaller scale to fit with their business model. In a recent Coffee with CART webinar, Gary and Schuyler Hawkins discussed the tipping point we are quickly approaching when it comes to digital retail spaces.

Citing a Food Navigator article, the two discussed the idea that much of the growth in the European retail space is expected to come from online purchases. Gary and Schuyler are seeing this trend in the United States as well, stating that 50% of retail sales might be done online within the next four to five years.

They point to the recent success of Amazon’s Prime Day. While there was some negative feedback about the selection of sale items, Amazon exceeded their sales from last year’s Black Friday sales (usually one of their highest sales days). Another big retailer, Wal-Mart, launched a rival sale to compete with Prime Day. A USA Today article pointed out that Wal-Mart has seen declining traffic in their stores so their strategy is to compete with online retailers like Amazon to stay relevant with customers and stay in the retail game.

While a smaller store or even a smaller chain doesn’t have the same budget or resources as Amazon or Wal-Mart, they can still participate in the digital retail sphere. More importantly, they should be participating in digital because it’s becoming the norm. Customers now expect an online option for their shopping experience. At the very least they expect online support and/or marketing to supplement their in-store shopping experience. Additionally, customers are becoming more trustful of the payment technologies used with online retail websites. They’re even getting to the point where they want online offers tailored to their shopping habits and interests as much as possible.

Many small retailers have already been navigating the digital space with websites, email marketing and social media. But how do they compete with the Amazons and Wal-Marts? One word: online shopping. The online grocery shopping market is becoming more competitive each day but it’s not completely saturated yet. According to a recent TechCrunch article, “with online penetration at roughly 1 percent, food and grocery delivery remains one of the largest markets still overwhelmingly offline, and its transition to online/mobile in the coming years will create a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs.”

These entrepreneurs are definitely taking advantage of this growing market. Many are offering technology for online shopping that can be used by small, independent retailers. Companies like Freshop, Hometown Grocers and Rosie are offering simple and affordable solutions for independent retailers.

Need help building an online strategy for your store or stores? At AWG, we can help you create a digital marketing strategy that will provide both convenience and a great interactive experience for your customers that will fit your budget.

Why do I work at AWG? “I like working for a company that supports local, often times family-owned, businesses in everything they do in order to help them succeed and stay competitive. It’s great to interact with the stores on a daily basis and learn about their story and the communities they serve.” -Melanie