I am a chronic over scheduler. Often times between an 8-5 job, events/meetings on top of that, and errands to run 8-5 more realistically looks like 7a-8p. In a world where more and more demands are being made on our time how does one balance everything? I have found myself relying on services and stores that cater to my lifestyle. Gyms offering classes geared, and timed, for working adults, restaurants offering mobile ordering and pickup to skip the line, grocery stores offering online ordering and delivery. Convenience and technology are reshaping the retail landscape and one brand has consistently been on the bleeding edge, Amazon.
Amazon has been winning customer loyalty with their Prime service for years. Users pay a yearly subscription for lower prices and reduced delivery fee. This year, they have been expanding their grocery delivery service to select markets. The items available are exactly what you would find in a grocery store, and in available markets, are delivered either same or next day. In order to grow this service and uphold the same service levels, Amazon will likely have to increase their number of distribution centers, creating new jobs in new markets.
Why does this matter? Convenience is king. Making customers’ lives easier will win loyalty.
How can independent retailers compete? By offering convenience services like online ordering, delivery, or easy grab and go meals in the front of the store.
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Beyond the basic delivery services, Amazon is looking to connect customers’ homes for even easier service with Amazon Dash. The Dash button, a wi-fi enabled device, makes re-ordering product from your favorite brands as easy as pushing a button. While Dash isn’t without its problems, it does speak to the importance of connecting the customer and anticipating their needs.
Why does this matter? Branded buttons throughout the home is Amazon’s easy way of growing the basket without the ‘basket’ even existing.
How can independent retailers compete? While implementing a Dash button replica isn’t realistic, creating a tailored experience based on customer data is. Using a Customer Relationship Management system to gather customer data stores can understand their customers, what they buy and how often. While this helps understand trends, more importantly, it allows stores to create offers to incentivize specific purchase behaviors.
Where Amazon has struggled to compete is in the local space; big business has a difficult time resonating with customers identifying as locavores. Farmers Markets are becoming more popular than ever and to meet this customer demand Amazon is testing delivery of local produce.
Why does this matter? Amazon’s inclusion of local producers makes them an alluring one-stop shop for even the more dedicated locavores. It’s easy to support a big business when they are supporting local.
How can independent retailers compete? Local is where independent retailers have the advantage, adding local farmers is Amazon’s play to directly compete at this level. Retailers can continue to highlight their connection to the community, local farmers, and why shopping small matters.
While the Amazons of the world are trying to figure out how to cater to busy lifestyles in the grocery world, independent retailers are at a distinct advantage. Amazon has to scale across, but also scale down to effectively play in these markets, for a business that is so complex this will be a slow, laborious process. Independent retailers can implement many of these ideas in a faster, less complex manner as an add on service to their existing customers. My loyalties, obviously, are with my local, independent retailer, but when time is at a minimum, convenience services are extremely tempting. As more independent retailers adopt technology-powered convenience services it will be easier to compete in an evolving grocery world.