Operating a grocery store is a complex challenge in an ever-evolving marketplace. The grocer of today faces an onslaught of new automation and AI technologies; struggles to retain consumers, increase ROI, and market to new audiences during unforeseeable events like the COVID-19 pandemic; tries to keep the supply chain efficient and prevent excessive loss; experiments with trends in products and services; and does it all while overseeing day-to-day operations of countless stores and employees and trying to keep consumers happy and returning. The risks are plenty; but the grocery industry is unafraid to embrace innovation and rise to the challenge.
Technology Innovation, AI, & Automation
Innovation in technology has always driven change in the retail industry. Grocery retail is not exempt from this reality. Bringing artificial intelligence, automation, and other innovative technologies to the grocery store aisles is inevitable and increasingly necessary in a post-COVID world where consumers will prioritize an efficient and sanitary shopping experience. Advancements in automation and AI will affect the grocery supply chain from distributor to shopping cart. In an age of surplus information, grocery retailers can harness this data to the best advantage of not only the company, but also the consumer. Mobilizing the power of AI, automated machines, and data has become a must as customers shift between in-store shopping to ecommerce and expect stores to maintain a personalized and frictionless experience.
Increasing ROI & Sales
Every grocery retailer has different fiscal goals, but likely share one in common: To increase revenue and ROI. Grocers must constantly keep up with the ever-evolving market to meet competitors at the cutting edge. Strategies to decrease loss and increase efficiency may also vary from store to store, but some universal systems exist: effective SKU rationalization, sanitation protocol, demand forecasting, managing expired shrink, etc.
Operating a grocery store would be impossible without employees! Investment in labor—at all company levels—is an investment in business success. Fair compensation and treatment of employees is a no-brainer good practice: Workers employed by companies with clear disinterest in them will undoubtedly lack motivation to remain with such a company. Investing in employees as humans improves morale, customer service, and can positively influence revenue. The way you treat your employees directly impacts how they treat customers in return. An employee with high morale, compensation that aligns with their labor and qualifications, and an overall feeling of being a part of the mission and care of the company—rather than just a cog in the wheel—is an employee more likely to enjoy their job and improve the store environment for customers.
It is the responsibility of grocery retailers to keep up to date on important legislation that may affect operations, sales, and donations. Check out these helpful blog posts on what grocers need to know about vital legislative materials having to do with the CARES Act, FSMA and FDA specifics, tax credits and deductions from donations, and more.
And be sure to download our free guide to Food Donations:
Consumer meal dollars spent this past year shifted dramatically toward grocery stores: whether in-store, online, or through delivery or curbside pickup services. When restaurant dining became unsafe, consumers pivoted hard toward groceries, causing a surge in supermarket profits as retailers adjusted frantically to the strange times. But now, as COVID-19 restrictions dwindle and vaccinations allow shoppers new confidence and comfort, restaurant dining is again on the rise. How can grocers adjust? Are there ways to retain meal dollars as pandemic restrictions lift? Appealing to pandemic-era shifts in eating habits will be key to retaining meal dollars. During the pandemic, consumers became concerned with products that benefit their health and wellness, and are looking for easy and inexpensive ways to continue cooking from home. Read on to find out how some retailers are already adjusting to these expectations and keeping consumers in their stores.
The highest level of food integrity is a requirement in today’s environment. In order to keep customer loyalty and trust, grocers, retailers and their supply chain partners will have to provide their customers with clearer insight into how their products are manufactured, sourced, and brought to market moving forward.
The Center for Food Integrity’s 2015 Consumer Trust Research report indicates food manufacturers are expected to lead this charge. In a marketplace where consumers are demanding transparency not only from grocery stores and restaurants, but also the food companies manufacturing their products, the best way to retain customer loyalty and trust is to build a transparent supply chain. To gain this type of visibility into the supply base, there are a few best practices to keep in mind.
In a market saturated with every type of grocery retailer a consumer could imagine, what makes one store stand out? Large grocery retailers hold several obvious advantages when it comes to drawing customers: Size, selection, convenience, location variety, competitive pricing. These same advantages, however, might also lead to certain pitfalls in a consumer experience: Less employee availability, less innovative products, less exciting shopping. Limited assortment retailers—like ALDI and Trader Joe's—seem to thrive in the spaces where the larger stores fall short. What makes the operation of a smaller, less assorted retailer succeed in these categories? How can the big retailers learn from them?
Check out these ebook resources to learn more about grocery retail operations: