The decorations are down and the dust has settled on Christmas grocery retail figures. There were few surprises in terms of the winners and losers. The supermarkets topping the tree – Aldi, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s – have all performed strongly over the past year or so.
More of a surprise was some of the supermarkets trumpeting their online sales success and using this to explain dips in store sales. This has fuelled talk of click and collect being one of the next big grocery market trends, and future gazing that drones will be dropping groceries at our doors.
Undoubtedly, click and collect has massive potential and shouldn’t be scoffed at. However, digital technologies are changing consumer expectations of how they shop, presenting much more immediate opportunity for supermarkets.
Omni-channel retailing is all about connecting with customers through multiple channels, but in a more integrated way. Consumers are ‘always on’ and therefore demanding quicker, more convenient and relevant information. They don’t consciously distinguish between online and offline, as they are focused on the ‘experience’ and taking control of the information they receive.
With this in mind, supermarkets need to think like the connected consumer and not be channel-specific. They should be merging in-store and digital communications to give customers what they want and when they want it.
A customer’s journey can start at any point, such as in-store, on a social network, at a supermarket’s website or when watching TV. Wherever this journey begins, supermarkets need to ensure messaging is customer-focused. A tactical example may include enabling shoppers to access consumer reviews or videos in-store via mobile devices relating to the products they’re thinking of purchasing. Similarly, throughout this journey, supermarkets could be providing customers with bespoke promotional offers through mobile apps, location-based messages or online ads.
Some retailers are already equipping staff with tablet devices and placing touchscreen terminals in stores to improve customer service, and enable customers to quickly access the information they require.
Perfecting an omni-channel strategy will help supermarkets to better understand their customers and give them what they want in a format they desire. This will help sales and strengthen brand loyalty, while also better preparing supermarkets for the arrival of a click and collect culture.
Andy Poole is a director at PR agency Weber Shandwick Manchester, which looks after Aldi UK’s national PR. This is a personal blog and views expressed are his own.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019