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    Meat, Seafood Experts Rule As Top-ranked In-store Services

    PG Annual Report reveals leading in-store offerings

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ

    The following is part of a series of key highlights from the 82nd Annual Report of the Grocery Industry, which appears in PG’s April 2015 issue. The full report can be found here.

    In the current food retailing war, supermarkets are clearly in the crosshairs of many formidable contenders. For that reason, grocers are pulling out all the tools in the shed to help them shine in a sea of sameness, with strategies to help impart an experience, rather than just another place to pick up products that can be sold anywhere. To that end, many grocery leaders are accelerating ongoing efforts to enhance relevancy, differentiation and tailor-made community appeal with specialty services and resident expertise that are available for the asking.

    In addition to personalized, professional advice and guidance from pharmacists, in-store nutritionists, dietitians, wellness experts and even aestheticians available to consult with shoppers on how to live with a new diagnosis such as diabetes, high blood pressure or celiac disease, many retailers are also seeing success with kids’ cooking and nutrition classes, wellness and nutrition sessions, oral care screenings, and smoking cessation seminars — all of which are usually free or inexpensive.

    However, the most critical in-store service cited by this year’s Annual Report of the Grocery Industry panelists is that of on-site butchers or resident meat department experts, viewed by 60 percent as the most rewarding component of an excellent in-store experience.

    Pacing butchers in the second seed is having seafood experts, which is also considered to yield a rewarding ROI for building bonds with consumers among 34 percent of respondents, followed next by service-based and informational kiosks.

    Other service-based programs scoring points with experiential retailing tactics include children’s/student programs, at 20 percent; wellness experts and registered dietitians, cited by 30 percent of panelists; event planners (12.6 percent); certified chefs (10 percent); and cheesemongers (10 percent).

    Benefits of Mobile Devices/Smartphones

    Like most other aspects of our lives, technology is playing an ever more important role throughout the store to deliver a more rewarding shopping experience. Innovations in digital, mobile and social technologies have created new contemporary expectations in today’s shopper. Indeed, as consumers increasingly use smartphones and tablets in their everyday lives, mobile-based technology have emerged as the top priority for retailers in 2015.

    Without question, the smartphone will be the end-all/be-all source of deals, personalized offers and customer engagement going forward. Pushing a grocery cart around with a paper shopping list is becoming a thing of the past. Along their path to purchase, modern aisle-browsers want convenience and value that makes their lives better and easier.

    Recognizing that social networks are the ultimate hub for conversations and word-of-mouth discoveries, 48 percent of retail execs responding to this year’s Annual Report of the Grocery Industry survey rank Facebook as the leading outlet to solidify connections with shoppers.

    For years, grocers have been reducing FSI circulation, and many retailers have done so with a scalpel rather than a hatchet — testing which markets will profitably respond to transitioning some of their print circular distribution to digital. As more grocers further enrich their wealth of customer data — and as consumers make digital an even bigger part of their lives — the race to offer the most relevant promotions for each customer will continue to intensify.

    Bearing out that the days of coupon clipping may be numbered, e-coupons (46.6 percent) and digital circulars (45.7 percent) are rated as the second and third top-rated benefits for an increasingly mobile-using base of shoppers.

    As grocers look to further increase share of wallet, they’re also investing more heavily in interactive websites (32 percent) and price comparison apps (28 percent), both of which gained double-digit traction from last year, as well as personalized discounts (27.6 percent). Other growing in-store technologies include indoor positioning systems to push customized offers in real time. A handful of retailers are already piloting beacon technologies that enable them to blast promotions to customers’ smartphones as they stroll through the aisles.


    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ
    • About Meg Major Veteran supermarket industry journalist Meg Major brings a wealth of experience to her role as Chief Content Editor of Progressive Grocer. In addition to her editorial duties, Major also spearheads the retail food industry’s premier women’s leadership recognition platform, Top Women in Grocery. Follow her on Twitter at @Meg_Major, connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/megmajor, or email her at [email protected]

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