The 2008 financial crisis may seem like ancient history, but the effect it had on shoppers lingers on…
The recession caused people to dial back on their spending — shopping for what they needed instead of stocking up and reserving “luxury” items for special occasions.
Despite a drop in revenue from loyal customers, savvy grocers were able to retain their market share by attracting new customers from the large pool of “switchers” who are customers without loyalty to any particular store or brand.
They were able to do this by:
- Identifying who their shoppers are
- Determining what they are buying elsewhere… and why
- Cutting costs that don’t provide any benefits to the consumer
- Replacing a ‘one-size-fits-all mentality with targeted stores based on specific demographics
- Focusing their marketing efforts on switchers
So what does this have to do with today? So far, the post-pandemic world has been marked by uncertainty. High inflation, supply chain issues and a rise in interest rates have created new challenges for retailers and consumers… but a lot of the lessons learned back then still apply today.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on how people shop
We are creatures of habit, but life changes or large events (like a recession or a pandemic) force our hands and are a catalyst for change.
- Online shopping became more prevalent, with online grocery sales jumping 103% year-over-year to $73.7 billion. And while consumers are back to visiting brick-and-mortar stores, many are still using e-commerce to top off their weekly and monthly grocery needs.
- People began spending more at grocery stores (both online and in-person) as shuttered restaurants forced them to cook more meals at home
- People made fewer trips to the store but spent more once they were there.
- Brand loyalty diminished because people were going to the store for necessity rather than the experience.
The big lesson for retail grocers — whether responding to a recession or a pandemic — is to understand what it is consumers actually want, and give it to them.
So, what do consumers want?
This is a tricky question because shoppers have different habits based on their circumstances, values and worldview.
Low-income shoppers, for instance, don’t have the luxury to pick and choose where they shop. Their choice, for the most part, is confined to stores closest to their geographic location and/or those offering discounted savings.
More affluent shoppers have more choice, but tend to favor overall value (perceived or actual) over lower prices. When choosing where to spend their food dollars they consider other factors such as selection, customer service, and how the experience makes them feel.
These three factors are where you’ll find your biggest opportunities in today’s marketplace.
How to attract loyal customers
With all the competition from competitors and online merchandisers, it’s more important than ever to deliver an exceptional shopping experience. There are a number of ways this can be achieved:
Keep your store clean and inviting. — That may seem obvious, but as odd as it sounds, I’ve been to many grocery stores that had dusty shelves, messy displays, dirty floors and stocking carts in the aisles.
Make sure display units are clean and up-to-date. — Old, dirty and worn out shelving and display cases really reflect poorly on the products they’re meant to enhance. Our cases feature modular designs that are easy to clean so they always look fresh and new (and they can be customized to match your brand’s identity).
- Keep your store well-stocked. — A store with lots of empty spaces looks picked over, giving the impression that the food left behind must be substandard. People like choice. Even if supplies are low, you can still make your shelves appear full by displaying your products properly (we offer a lot of depth and length options in our cases to help you right-size your merchandising).
- Provide great customer service. — The friendliness and helpfulness of your staff have a profound effect on how people experience your store. It’s important to train your staff properly — untrained and unmotivated employees can leave customers feeling anxious and frustrated, sending them down the street to your competitors. I have a friend who switched stores because the employees were telling off-color jokes when stocking the shelves! These things matter.
- Embrace technology. — By replacing cashiers with self-serve options you free them up so they can spend more time on the floor, allowing them to answer questions and suggest/demonstrate products to shoppers. This helps boost sales and provides more value to the customer, keeping them coming back.
- Make items easy to find. — While some people do enjoy a leisurely shopping experience, many want to be able to find everything they need without too much hassle. Having products displayed in convenient Fresh Go bins or other self-service displays makes shopping easier.
- Take advantage of fresh and seasonal products. — Flexible display cases (like nesting tables or market bins) are easy to adapt to your floor plan, making it simple to adjust to changing needs (like the social distancing mandates of 2020-2021) or take advantage of seasonal offerings.
In today's market, you have to really care about your customer’s experience — lure them in with gorgeous displays of seasonal produce (nicely displayed in produce tables, market tables and Fresh Go bins), or draw them in with delicious aromas from the bakery (and displaying your mouth-watering baked goods in all their glory!).
People shop with their eyes and their emotions… so give them a great experience and they’ll come back for more.
Let us help
At Cayuga displays, we make it easy for you to give your customers what they want — an elevated experience with plenty of fresh food, proudly displayed in a clean and inviting environment.
Our Express Go and Fresh Go series of display cases and bins are flexible and customizable — and best of all they can be delivered in as little as eight weeks!
Whether you’re thinking of upgrading a single department, transforming your entire store or just have a question or two, give us a call or book a consultation. We’d love to hear from you!