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With 2016 in full swing, retailers are being challenged to keep up with the emergence of the “Convenience Economy,” in which today’s shopper increasingly has immediate access to the products and services they want, at the tap of a button.
Whether it’s skipping the payment process at the end of a cab ride by using Uber or pre-ordering your coffee via the Starbucks app, these types of services are driving a huge shift in consumer expectations for real-time, on-demand, convenient experiences.
For grocery retailers, these new shopper expectations lend themselves to many new types of customer experiences within two areas:
Convenient Shopping Process: Your shoppers want ways to immediately find products, whether online or in-store, and navigating through tens of thousands of items can be a challenge. Retailers can make this process much easier by narrowing the entire online product catalogue based on any combination of preferences including diet (organic, gluten-free, local, vegan, halal, etc), sale/price, nutritional score, whether or not the shopper had previously purchased an item and even customer ratings/reviews.
This type of online experience also helps customers shopping in-store, as they can use their mobile phone to quickly identify the top rated olive oil, for example, or find out which products they’ve previously purchased that are currently on sale or see all local organic products sold across the store.
Combining this with in-store aisle location will provide a rich, convenient, time-saving shopper experience that resonates with the convenience-driven shopper.
Instant Ordering: A convenient curbside or delivery experience is exactly what this new shopper is looking for, and what they’ll come to expect thanks to services like Starbucks Order Ahead. Retailers can make the ordering process really simple by creating an online experience that is organized, simple and intuitive, allowing their shoppers to re-order from their previous purchases, and communicating relevant product suggestions during the process. An ordering experience that can all be done in just a few taps or clicks will help your shoppers to save upwards of a couple of hours in their weekly routine.
Preparing to be Convenient
As the convenience economy becomes more widespread and more of your shoppers’ expectations adjust, how can you prepare?
We’ve outlined three areas to focus on first and foremost to set up a solid foundation that will allow you to adapt your offering to the Convenience Economy:
1) Create a Plan to Connect All of Your Systems
It’s imperative to get all of your disparate systems to talk to each other – from your loyalty systems to CRM to ecommerce to inventory management, and so on.
Why, you might ask?
In order to deliver an easy-to-use, unified user experience and value-added features, you will need to leverage and combine data across your different systems.
For example, to deliver a 1-to-1 personalized weekly ad, you need to develop systems that can connect ERP data (product info), loyalty/CRM data (user profile) and TLOG data (purchase history) to serve up a corresponding digital experience (web and mobile).
For the consumer, that means no longer sifting through all of your coupons and sales but instead being notified about sales that are connected to what they’ve bought in the past, creating the most convenient and easiest experience possible.