Social, Location, Mobile and just plain Online access to customers, gives Grocer’s and grocery-brands a better, more effective and soon to be mandatory manner of communicating. That communication can seal the loyalty deal, or it can push the shopper into a more fragmented multi-retailer, omni-channel , multi-product world.
Today there are many “grocery shopping assist” applications available to the consumer. List builders, price comparers, deal offer-ers, product locators, healthy substituters, product alternative suggesters and others.
· In some cases these applications are offered by the retailer (Amazon’s price comparison tool, Safeway’s feature price match program, Ahold’s Scanit).
· In other cases the application is retailer agnostic and “customer-centric” (Google, Grocery Saver).
Regardless of the application approach used by each consumer, your store and your brand offerings are going to be compared against other choices. You cannot help but to compete on price. No grocery shopper wants to have paid more for their milk than their neighbor.
However, now is the time when you can chose to make price just part of the value equation which you offer customers rounding it out by including performance. Bill Bishop refers to this opportunity in a recent blog of his at http://www.brickmeetsclick.com/updating-the-shopper-value-equation/
Let me broach two ways to bring performance into the equation allowing you to compete effectively against all current players regardless of their bricks, clicks or omni offering. These two efforts tie out your communication efforts to your merchandising plans and to the actual condition of the shelf in a performance package that will satisfy your shoppers and that will be unmatched by your competition.
1. Today you put a great deal of intellectual energy and creativity, collaboratively with your trading partner, in order to give your consumers the best possible shelf impression. That planning, testing and re-planning is followed by tremendous efforts to put the plan into action. How much time and energy is put into making sure that plan is still in place?
ShelfSnap has studied hundreds of products and categories in thousands of stores. The assortment of products actually on-shelf for the very top brands in the very largest retailers differ from plan by an average of over 20%. The facings presence on-shelf differed from plan by more than 50%. The purpose of all that communication mentioned earlier is to drive shoppers to shelf to complete the deal. When they get to the shelf and do not see products as you had planned them, the deal you were expecting to seal is ripped apart…the customer frustrated and you are just one more brand or store that promises great performance, but doesn’t deliver on the promise. If you measure and make sure that the very well thought out plan is still on the shelf you will PERFORM 30-70% better than your competitors.
2. You are investing enormous effort understanding and experimenting with various So-Lo-Mo and O communications techniques and vehicles. In order to “close the deal” in an online communication the shopper has to connect the product selected from the digital shelf with the one they encounter either on the real shelf or in the delivery tote. If the product they see on shelf looks different from the product image they chose, or if their product doesn’t show up digitally they will at least be confused, and in some cases frustrated. According to GS1UK at least half of these shoppers will either refuse to buy or will return the product if delivered. All early indications from research is that consumers blame the retailer for the product “switch”. At the very least “decision confusion” increases dwell time which translates into a smaller basket for that retailer.
ShelfSnap has matched virtually every source of grocery product images used by manufacturers, retailers and application providers to products that actually sit on shelves in Walmart, Kroger and other critical retailers. 20% of the products on shelf have no images, or data to support any digital communication efforts, including shelf level health and wellness programs. Of the products that are on the shelf and that do have images, in 46% of the cases the image is different from the package on the shelf. When the image is different so too is the nutritional data over 60% of the time.
The short message here is take an active role in measuring and managing the matchup between product images in your communications efforts and the product packaging on the shelf. ShelfSnap makes that matchup relatively painless, and the effort you go to in order to shore up the weakest link in the digital path to purchase will allow your offering to perform more than 50% more effectively than your competitor.