Store traffic is usually used as a metric to gauge the success of retail business strategies. However, the recent public health crisis has made it challenging to stick to foot traffic as a measure of success as we continuously shelter in place. Things have changed, and with the increased adoption of online grocery platforms and grocers slowly building micro-fulfillment centers to support online orders, a growing number of customers are now having their groceries delivered right to their doorsteps.
Still, nothing beats the experience of pushing shopping carts through grocery stores, navigating the aisles, and carefully choosing products while having the ability to quickly view and choose alternatives, if desired. That is why, despite the popularity of e-commerce platforms, some consumers still choose to visit their local grocers.
Aside from proximity, several factors play a key role in explaining why customers visit grocery stores and thus increase store traffic. Here are some of them:
Grocery Food Courts –Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) are expected to do very well in the coming years. Incorporating a QSR-like element or concept in grocery stores, such as maximizing food courts, is a great way to attract customers and drive foot traffic. As families continue to work from home, food courts are a great source for easy and inexpensive family dinner meals.
Adopting Food Trends – Nothing is as frustrating as driving up to your local grocers just to find out they don’t have the stock of your favorite kind of snack packs, meal kits, or frozen meals. According to a New York-based IHL Group called “The Future of Grocery and CPG”, it is estimated that the overall lost sales due to out-of-stocks during the pandemic were $505 billion. Retailers who have unique assortments, a wide selection of available meal solutions, and other food trends will not just win their loyal customers’ hearts, but also their pockets.
Digital Innovation and Flexible Fulfillment Options – Technological innovations that are integrated into grocery stores will always play a huge part in influencing store traffic as consumers continuously seek smoother, in-store transactions and convenience. Likewise, the more flexible the grocery store is on its fulfillment, the better for time-starved consumers. Customers want to buy on their terms. Grocers who are flexible and offer wide fulfillment options, such as curbside pickup or door-to-door delivery, generate repeat customers.
Aside from these factors, merchandising also plays a key role in increasing store traffic. Customers want to be able to look for products while easily navigating the store to shorten the time they spend shopping. Likewise, overall store look and feel, such as good lighting, functional display cases, and grocery store messaging, are essential in providing the customer with the optimal shopping experience. Educational materials, posters, banners, and displays are helpful in making customers more informed and engaged in the shopping process. Retailers should focus on offering personalized solutions as well as developing advanced merchandising techniques to meet the ever-evolving needs and wants of their consumers.
Though online groceries are becoming more and more popular these days, it is safe to say that grocery stores are here to stay and will always have a fighting chance of surviving the changes in the industry. To that end, the faster we can integrate technology with brick and mortar stores, the higher the probability we will thrive and succeed in the long term.