Five Ways Food Retailers Can Win Customers Back in 2021

Posted in Innovation Posted in Trends Written by Chris Schotsman

**A recent poll by Survey Monkey found that 86% of adults in the U.S. prefer to buy their groceries in-person rather than online. **

The meteoric rise of online grocery shopping during the pandemic — almost 200% higher than the previous year — took a lot of retailers by surprise. Those that failed to adapt to the ‘new normal’ by offering easy, viable alternatives to in-store shopping — such as providing in-store meal kits and prepared food — saw their customers leave in droves to those who could.

But despite the spike in online shopping caused by the pandemic, evidence suggests the pendulum is about to take a hard swing back. But how far back will it go?

After more than a year of social distancing and restrictions, people are more than ready to close their computers and head on out to stroll up and down the aisles of their local supermarket. The novelty of shopping online — along with the extra costs and concerns with fresh product choice, damage and accuracy — will, I believe, slow down significantly.


People are looking for more than just groceries…

We’re all social animals at heart and have been gathering together at markets for thousands of years. And we go there for more than just the milk and bread. We go there to greet our neighbours, smile at the little kid sitting in the grocery cart, and chat with the checkout clerk about today’s weather. We go for the sense of community we get from sharing our experiences with others. Some stores have even offered “singles events”!

In the State of Consumer Behavior report 2021, 90% of respondents said that they would be more likely to return to brick-and-mortar stores if they had a positive in-store experience. So the onus is on the grocer to not only win their customers back but to find ways to keep them coming back.

No easy feat.

Here are five ways to do so:

  1. Today’s consumers demand a diversity of products and expect everything they buy in-store to be available online — which not all online retailers do. You can entice shoppers to your store by highlighting those items not available online with special sales and in-store displays.
  2. They’re quick to shop elsewhere if they’re dissatisfied — even with a single experience. Savvy grocers can take advantage of low brand-loyalty by offering a better experience than their competitors. First impressions count, so taking care that your products are beautifully displayed helps create a welcoming atmosphere that keeps people coming back. It may seem obvious in today’s environment, but something as fundamental as keeping your store clean is paramount.
  3. Despite the increase in online grocery shopping and curbside pickup, people are still uncomfortable having other people choosing their fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and baked goods. They don’t trust strangers to check the expiry date on the milk or know how ripe they like their bananas. Make it easy for customers to come in and find what they’re looking for.
  4. The “Amazon Effect” has consumers expecting fast and free delivery, making it difficult for food and meal delivery companies to compete while still creating a profit. By displaying your own meal kits and prepared dishes you can give your customers the convenience of ready-made meals at a much lower price.
  5. People are more environmentally conscious and push back against what they perceive as excessive packaging, which is one of the objections to online meal delivery.

Being able to provide crisp produce, fresh meat and deli products, farm-fresh dairy and baked goods that make their mouths water will bring your customers to your door.

Providing them with outstanding customer service and creating stimulating visual experiences — by including things like grab & go displays, food preparation and display centers, and hot & cold bars — will keep them coming back.

At Cayuga, you’ll find everything you need — from heated or refrigerated units and display cases for fresh and prepared foods — to make shopping for groceries feel more like an experience and less of a chore. Our modular designs are flexible and easily customizable to suit your store’s or company’s needs — so give us a call today, and let’s chat!

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