A year ago, the idea of shopping in my pajamas, hopping in the car and having someone deposit my groceries in my truck excited me. Now I find that I long for the tactile emotion I get from touching boxes and cans on a shelf, nodding at another customer as we pass each other in the aisles and bopping to the music while I meander through the store with my sanitized buggy. My kids think that’s funny, but my Grandkids understand! The sites, the sounds, the smells…
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the ease of online ordering, the convenience is great. Acknowledging that online shopping will always be a part of my life now was easier to swallow than I thought, but don’t underestimate the emotional aspect of a brick-and-mortar store. That bond we feel with our community retailers has become more valuable since the pandemic. I think, and studies have shown, for retailers to be relevant it is important for the two to coexist.
Progressive Grocer and Shelby Report are two of my favorite reads that offer great insight into our current markets and both have reported a leveling off of online ordering just as I have personally experienced. So how do we begin to create a seamless shopping experience for both venues?
My Millennial kids purchased their bulk groceries online long before the pandemic hit. Then they just simply popped in for the occasional last-minute item a few times each week. And when I say occasionally, I mean every other day. Pre-planning is not their long suit. Those trips typically result in my sons or grandkids adding more items into the buggy. So, Yay for strategic omni-channel marketing. A well-placed sign accompanied by a strategic audio promotion does wonders for the bottom line.
Then there’s us Boomers. We have become keenly aware the past year that the convenience of online ordering has made an exhausting year a little bit easier. Out of necessity and caution we delved into the unknown arena of online ordering. Things like “who” is going to pick out my bananas, and will they get the ones that are still slightly green had to be overcome. It was a process for us but quite frankly we adjusted quickly, thanks to our local grocers.
Independent grocers had the upper hand in some ways because they could adjust and pivot services and operations quickly, not that it was easy though. Communicating those changes became a little more difficult initially. Using their audio for more than just price and product promotions proved to be the answer. A heightened awareness of digital services and platforms, how and where to find them became tantamount to success.
So, as you can see it’s clear as mud. Every grocer across out country has had to meet the differing needs of their shoppers this past year. Whether by demographic or region you have made the hard decisions necessary to serve your communities, and we applaud you.
For years I have droned on about the importance of audio messaging and building customer loyalty. When millennials began to gain market share, I realized the importance and need of changing how we communicate to reach them. Pre-pandemic we saw the indicators that digital could have a significant shift in shopping habits and began to work towards working with other vendors to build a more robust integrated shopping experience from the first touchpoint to the last. Audio was an important element of that approach to reach and communicate with shoppers.
And…ha-ha…the pandemic proved me right! (I do gloat whenever I get the chance because the opportunity doesn’t come along often enough for me).
So where does that leave us? Somewhere in between the Jetson’s and Mayberry. Neither of which Millennials will understand.
Blue Skies Everyone!