Supply chain issues. Limited inventory. Rising costs. For the past 12 months, these phrases have become the buzzwords of the retail industry. With inflation at the forefront of the news—and grocery prices increasing by a whopping 10%—grocers and shoppers are scrambling to find ways to pivot around numbers that are now at a 40-year high.
Grocers are now in the challenging position of not only navigating the rising cost of products, but also of addressing the habits shoppers adopted when online shopping became necessary during the Covid-19 pandemic. Interestingly enough, the bulk of these habits involve a reliance on—and love of—technology solutions tailored to a new “normal”.
While current trends show that shoppers are abandoning online shopping—preferring to shop in-store—it doesn’t mean that they’re abandoning their favorite mobile apps and retail technology tools.
This means that grocers should be prepared to meet shoppers at the crossroad of in-store and online shopping. While it’s natural for us to separate online shopping and the convenience of app-based purchasing from the in-store experience, it’s wiser to simply harness what we’ve learned. We should embrace the opportunity to create an integrated online and in-store shopping experience that helps shoppers navigate their shopping challenges—and rising food costs—with ease and confidence.
The Technology Is Here. It’s Time to Lean In.
So, how do we take the learnings from the past couple of years to support and benefit customers as inflation soars? We evolve. We get ahead of these trends and recognize that technology can drive in-store sales, build loyalty and create new revenue streams for grocers across the country.
First, grocers need to invest in digital solutions—specifically mobile apps that help shoppers find savings. With inventory at a premium, it’s important to put local pricing, available products and digital coupons in the hands of your customers. By making sure people know what’s available in-store—and what they’ll be spending—you’ll provide a frustration-free shopping trip, mitigating the risk that they’ll turn to competitors for a better experience.
The numbers show that, while today’s shopper depends more on mobile apps to make informed decisions, 90% of customers still prefer to shop in-store. In fact, U.S. online grocery sales declined by 6% in March, and those numbers will continue growing. It’s time to connect with those customers now… or someone else will.
This leads to the next logical addition to your digital strategy: a loyalty program that connects you with your customers in a targeted, data-driven way. By adopting technology that tracks individual habits and preferences, you’ll be able to deliver personalized suggestions, promotions and savings that will make a return trip to your store a no-brainer.
The bottom line is that shoppers want value—especially now. All signs point to the fact that the rate of year-over-year inflation could soar to nearly 15% depending on the product, with customers feeling the impact by the end of the year.
“It’s up to retailers to get ahead of this upward trend in pricing and help shoppers identify new approaches that will not only deliver savings but encourage them to engage both online and in the physical store. In fact, as prices continue to rise, the in-store shopping trip will become even more important as shoppers won’t be able to afford the costly premiums associated with delivery services,” says Henry Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of Swiftly.
Getting Ahead of the Effects of Inflation on Your Bottom Line
Shoppers aren’t the only ones feeling the crunch of inflation. As retailers raise prices to survive, it’s also important to look at the way they can channel technology to bring in added revenue. The most logical solution is by claiming their share of the $100B retail media market.
By taking control of your retail media program—and by partnering with brands your customers trust—you’re bringing dollars to your bottom line and uncovering opportunities to pass on savings.
Along with revenue, the data you’ll glean from a retail media program can give you valuable insight into the inventory you should be investing in.
The Big Question
For many retailers, the big question is simply, “How do I get this kind of technology built?” The good news is that it already exists. Companies like Swiftly provide you with the same technology that big retail uses without any work for your team. These plug-and-play solutions are tailored to your specific needs and can be integrated with your current point-of-sale system within a matter of weeks.
It’s no secret that, with the current rate of inflation, customers are going to become more mindful of their shopping habits. By modernizing your practices, and evolving with the technology solutions that are available, there’s no reason that grocers cannot only survive but thrive as we catapult toward our new normal.