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Coffee with CART (12/3): Develop a strategy, don’t just react

With Thanksgiving fresh in your minds, I have a question for you. Does your store organize a turkey giveaway around Thanksgiving? How well does this promotion do to boost your sales during the holiday season? Do you notice that a lot of young shoppers are participating? My guess would be no. Not because I don’t think it’s a good idea but because there is statistical evidence that this kind of promo isn’t all that exciting to the young millenial shoppers that many of you are trying to get in to your stores.

These younger shoppers might not be hosting their own Thanksgiving dinners yet so it’s possible that their interest in a free turkey will increase as they get older. However, I use this example to show you that you cannot do things the way you’ve always done them and expect that they will work in these changing times and with the younger generations.

It’s important to understand what the younger generation and an overall more tech-savvy society is looking for in a grocery retailer.  As Gary and Sterling Hawkins mentioned in last week’s Advancing Retail Coffee with CART webinar, shoppers and brands are spending a lot more time on social media and retailers no longer have a choice about things like creating a social media presence and providing online shopping. It’s what customers want and are coming to expect from a grocery store.

Retailers must go to where their customers are (like their phones and tablets) in order to succeed in the modern marketplace. For example, did you know that 50% of adults do comparison shopping on their smartphone while in a store? If you don’t have a digital presence (especially one that’s mobile-friendly), you will not be able to have the same impact on your customers as your competition.

However, grocery retailers should also take a step back and look at the big picture. They must view the store as a whole and determine which tools and platforms will work best for their store and their current and desired customer demographic. For example, while many brands are using Periscope to reach millenials, Sterling Hawkins stated that it remains to be seen whether or not this something the grocery industry can and should use to reach customers.

Another fairly new tool that grocers are still trying to figure out is in-store beacon technology, which recently celebrated two years in the marketplace. While this technology has great promise for grocery retailers, the industry creating the beacon tools needs to work on location inaccuracy. Gary Hawkins also mentioned in the webinar that retailers need to ensure that unwanted messages and ads don’t appear on phones with this technology. That is on the same level with SPAM and the retailers should work with the tech companies to create a beacon tool that will be relevant and personalized to their customer.

Ultimately, both Gary and Sterling provide a great piece of insight for the grocery retail industry as it relates to technology. While they started the webinar with a call to action that the independent grocers can no longer ignore the digital realm, they suggest that retailers “develop a strategy and don’t just react.” Do your research, learn what work best for your store and create a well-planned strategy to compete with the other stores in your area on a scale that you can manage.

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