Creating a Community Hub In-Store to Drive Traffic
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Public spaces, such as town and city centers, have always been at the heart of the community, acting as the first social network before the digital age. From markets to chain stores, shopping was an opportunity for interaction and meaningful experiences.
The buzz of the marketplace was enough to draw people, as it was a local source of everything a shopper could need, providing a strong sense of convenience before the internet. Eventually, the social aspect grew around it, but as we become more time-pressured in our daily lives, grocery shopping has become more of a functional task driven by low prices and convenience.
Since then, this change in behavior has led to the downfall of some big-name brands. Most grocery retailers have learned to adapt, bringing in digital tools to speed up services or trialing new experiences to entice shoppers. Experiential spaces may be a sure-fire win for big brands in fashion and homeware retailers, such as Vans, which introduced skate parks in its stores, and Ikea, which hosts in-store sleepovers — but what of grocers? The cost and risk of this are often too much for smaller stores, so a scalable alternative is to create in-store communities that reignite the idea of social shopping.
Consumerism has been under scrutiny in the past few months, with Millennials and Gen Z leading the way in environmental awareness and helping to influence other groups. As a result, retailers are increasingly challenged to ensure that their practices are in line with their customers’ values and expectations.
Behind-the-scenes technology is one solution that Albertsons has used; for example, the grocer purchased 10 all-electric Tesla tractors in 2018 to decrease carbon emissions and run a cleaner transportation program within its supply chain.
Another way to improve sustainability is to think ‘local’ as much as possible, and for the retailer to communicate this to its customers. Employing the talents of local artists has been one way that national grocery brand Walmart has attempted to solidify a feeling of community within each store. The chain acknowledged that the reason each store is unique is its people, so it has reflected this in a number of locations with a Mural Program that sources community-focused local art to display in-store.
Staying fit and healthy
Alongside environmental awareness, younger generations are taking physical and mental well-being much more seriously than previous generations, and retailers are increasingly tapping into this trend.
Kroger’s meal-planning platform is one example of how some grocers are taking responsibility for improving the health and well-being of their customers. By suggesting a huge variety of recipes for nutritious meals that are updated on a regular basis, Kroger has positioned itself not just as a supplier, but also as a place to go for cooking inspiration and genuine support for feeding a family in a health-conscious way.
Creating a boutique shopping experience
Acknowledging which specific departments ecommerce is having a particularly big impact on with regard to sales is also a strategy. In Stop & Shop stores, for example, store overhauls included a refresh of pet aisles and baby aisles, creating a more ‘boutique’ and enjoyable shopping experience.
This approach has also been introduced by H-E-B, with a transformation of its beauty sections. With a dedicated team of trained beauty advisers on hand to offer guidance and product demos, H-E-B stores are now destinations for a reason other than simply a weekly shop.
In the digital world, the most successful retailers understand the importance of making their stores interactive. This could include app technology, such as aggregating local deals according to a customer’s ZIP code and offering the ability to make shopping lists — all designed to improve in-store customer experience.
As online shopping continues to grow, brick-and-mortar grocery stores have the opportunity to evolve from product-based stores to creating experiences that reflect society’s desire to connect within a local community. Through this transformation, grocers can boost traffic as they produce a loyal customer base that repeatedly interacts with their engagement efforts.