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5 Ways to Transform Modern Grocers into Experiential Destinations

5 Ways to Transform Modern Grocers into Experiential Destinations

Because online store options have become so vast and convenient for shoppers, actual physical locations are evolving the shopper experience within their walls. One industry that has become a hub for experiential destinations are modern grocery retailers.

These grocery retailers are adding innovative features that effectively attract new shoppers into the store, make existing shoppers stay in the store longer and make them stray away from their list leading to impulse purchases.

Why Modern Grocers Are Transforming into Experiential Destinations

Most businesses have a specific target market, but grocery retailers are different. Everyone needs groceries, so they compete with each other to bring shoppers into their stores and create brand loyalty. Because of this competition, as well as from big box-stores and online food services, grocers need to find new ways to entice shoppers.

Moreover, price is no longer the only factor in grocery shopping. Research by Acosta looked at individuals who shopped at multiple food stores in one week, and found that although price is their biggest motivator (60%), they also consider quality (41%), product availability (33%) and convenience (23%) when deciding where to purchase groceries. A grocer that may have focused solely on price in the past now needs to focus on non-price factors, including the shopping experience.

By making grocery stores experiential destinations, they’re able to gain a competitive edge – attracting more people to the store, developing brand loyalty and turning shoppers into brand ambassadors. And although it may require a large time and financial investment initially, adding unique features and services can be worth the effort in terms of continued growth and high customer retention and acquisition rates. And grocers can look to other retailers for examples of how to improve their in-store experience.

5 Ways Grocers Can Provide Experiential Options for Shoppers

1. Provide More Ways to Shop

Similar to other types of retail stores, grocers can offer more ways to shop, including in-store, delivery and pick-up options. In fact, click-and-collect options are becoming more popular among grocery shoppers. According to a Nielsen and FMI survey, nearly 40% prefer this fulfillment option – either picking up groceries in-store or curbside. Millennials, who tend to drive future trends, prefer click and collect over home delivery.

Kroger’s ClickList is a strong example of in-store pickup done right. Shoppers can purchase items online and retrieve them through a designated drive-thru area. It even has the capability to track a shopper’s “favorites” to allow for quicker reordering. The forward-thinking grocer reported that their online sales grew 66% earlier this year, and credited its ClickList in-store pickup service.

2. Offer a Sense of Community

Today’s shoppers are looking for authentic, human connections while in the store. To meet this desire, grocers should focus on providing high-level, friendly customer service as a priority. This is especially beneficial in terms of retaining shoppers, as 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.

Trader Joe’s is raising the bar for others. Chain Store Age explained that the retailer creates a warm and welcoming environment with employees who are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful to shoppers. For example, cashiers regularly share their thoughts on on items being purchased and make suggestions for future grocery trips.

3. Create an Immersive Environment

One way for grocers and other retailers to create an immersive experience is to add a cafe or restaurant inside the store. They can choose to create their own, or establish a licensing agreement with a partner. This addition can help to counteract trends toward shopping through online channels. It can also help shoppers stay in the store longer, encouraging additional purchases.

Wegmans takes “immersive” to another level. According to Supermarket News, the average Wegmans location includes a bookstore, a dry cleaner, a florist, child play areas and other options that are not normally found in a grocery store. It combines this with high-level service from its employees for a superior in-store experience.

4. Focus on Personalization

Personalization is important to modern shoppers. Grocers can use this technique to acquire new shoppers and drive loyalty. Epsilon research discovered that 90% of study participants found personalization appealing, and it would encourage 80% to do business with a brand. Furthermore, 75% of shoppers prefer personalized content that helps them find what they’re looking for in the exact moment that they’re looking – whether it’s in-store or online.

Grocers can achieve this through personalized coupons and offers, as well as in-store value-adds delivered through native mobile apps. They can also provide highly relevant content in real-time to influence shoppers’ decision-making in the buying process.

Whole Foods, for example, uses a recipe database chatbot to provide meal recommendations through Facebook Messenger. Shoppers can enter a keyword, cuisine type or even an emoji to receive meal inspiration based on their personal preferences.

5. Provide Food Demonstrations

Grocers have traditionally used in-store demonstrations and sampling to promote new products, drive sales and increase shopper engagement. To be effective, however, they must take a modern approach to these offerings. Many shoppers are looking for cooking help or inspiration, and more sophisticated food demonstrations can be the key to driving them into the store.

Whole Foods revolutionized in-store demos with its Salud! Cooking School, only available in select locations. The grocer offers demonstrations and hands-on cooking and wine classes that are led by in-store instructors or local chefs and artisans. The classes are designed for people of all ages and culinary skill levels.

Modern grocery retailers are perfectly positioned to integrate in-store experiential options to boost in-store traffic. Grocery shopping is a routine task, and these stores have the unique opportunity to implement new and innovative strategies to draw shoppers away from the competition and encourage return trips. Whether you invest in a click-and-collect solution, focus on providing top-quality service or apply all five strategies at once, enhancing the shopping experience is the key to winning shoppers and driving business growth.