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Customer Experience In The Amazon Age

You already know it is easier to sell to existing customers than to obtain new ones. Unlike online retailers, you have customers physically standing in your store. That gives you special opportunities to increase loyalty with personal service.​So instead of jumping on the online bandwagon and compete head-to-head with digital natives, supermarkets might have an underutilized “secret weapon”.

Protect and defend the lead

For now, supermarkets are still leaders in the American food retailing landscape, both physical and online. However, the gap is narrowing. They can’t afford to be complacent as supercenters, mass stores, and warehouse clubs are catching up, especially in the online grocery domain.

“This suggests these less food-focused channels have been able successfully to leverage the online relationship they initially established in non-grocery categories to win over grocery purchases as well” (FMI’s 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report).

What about online-only retailers? The trend is upwards there as well, with around 33% of shoppers now buy from these online grocery retailers ‘at least sometimes,’ more than double the number from 2015.

Meanwhile, Amazon has also branched out to physical stores, either through the acquisition of Whole Foods, the launch of cashierless Amazon Go stores, or even a new grocery chain altogether.

The opportunities in grocery store marketing

In this digital era of Amazon, Netflix and Facebook, people still crave the human experience and connection. And quite rightly:

“Retail anchors a human experience” - The Shelby Report

Online fatigue

This phenomenon can be true when there seems to be an unlimited number of choices on the Internet.

So whilst online wins in terms of offering broad selections, it’s not always the best for consumers. Brick-and-mortar stores can capitalize on providing customers some guidance in making purchase decisions. Some grocery store marketing ideas include offering product curation, or featuring products through in-store demos. Sometimes, less is more.

Customer data

Retailers often forget that they have access to first-hand customer data when shaping grocery store marketing strategies. From the early utilization of this in the form of loyalty programs, now there are even more opportunities to leverage insights and win customer engagement.

The reason to visit a supermarket or store

Customers are increasingly looking for experiences, especially Millennials and gen Z. In fact, the so-called concept of “The Experience Economy” dated back to 1999, and has given rise to a myriad of terms like retailtainment, experiential marketing/retail.

So what is the reason someone would go to a store if online retailers are competing on price and range?

The answer is you can differentiate by customer experience. Think long and hard about what you can offer that online retailers can’t (the same way they probably have thought about you and their point of difference).

Take a look at Costco. They have become famous for “free samples,” which on the surface seems to cost the business a lot but actually results in increased sales. Subconsciously and gradually, consumers have found a very compelling reason to visit Costco, where they will end up making purchases. In-Store Sampling events boosting shoppers traffic and sales are very well documented.

Ideas to increase sales in retail stores

With the physical space and the human touch, supermarkets/retail stores can grab those opportunities to provide customers with a better tactile experience, with more curation and interactivity.

A recent Retail Store Tours study shows that “when more senses are activated during the shopping experience, higher satisfaction levels are generated, which helps foster customer loyalty.”

That is why organizing in-store demonstrations to help consumers discover, try, and sample new products is so effective. Not only can they taste, see, smell, and touch the product, they can also interact and have Q&A with the brand ambassadors.

This simple tactic also casts a wide net to help increase sales, namely:

Impulse buyers

Buyers already familiar with the brand

Traditional try-before-you-buy consumers

To get more out of in-store demos, supermarkets can start to think cross-channels, just like brands. That means gathering data from:

Your customers’ shopping behaviors and needs

Your own customer surveys

Past successful demos

Sales figures: which items need a push?

You can even work with brands to identify their current marketing push that you can leverage for in-store demos. Or tie product demos to your loyalty programs for an integrated approach.

Simplicity of implementation ​

The beauty of it all is that it is not as complicated to organize in-store demos as you think. There is no need to add dedicated personnel as most supermarkets do not have so-called full time demo coordinators anyway.

The streamlining and coordinating of different people and processes can be left to a technology solution that is intuitive, easy to set up and operate, such as Demo Wizard. ​

Proven return on investment

As a final note, let’s look at the gains from these grocery retail marketing strategies.

First of all, the cost of running in-store demos is covered by vendor brands. Second, there are mutual benefits, namely the lift in sales of a brand and product.

In fact, in-store demos can result in “a 150% lift in same-day sales for a demonstrated CPG item – followed by a 90% lift for that item over the course of the next 90 days.”

This shows that operational executives of supermarkets should consider the long-term gains by thinking of in-store demos as a “network of events.” Just as how you would evaluate the effectiveness of advertising, think beyond the single instance and consider the “halo effect.”

With an integrated approach and the right tool, in-store demos can help improve the stickiness of your supermarket’s brand as you improve your customers’ experience. The time to act is now, when online-only retailers are still trying to navigate the brick-and-mortar space.

Schedule an online demonstration of Demo Wizard, or see how it helps streamline in-store ​demo planning here.