Expert Column: Brick and Mortar Supermarkets at a Crossroads


Digital and social media have effectively changed how and where people choose to conduct their shopping. As ecommerce continues to disrupt the way business is done, the convenience of ordering products and services online will become more and more attractive to shoppers. Just do the math: according to figures from eMarketer, worldwide ecommerce sales are expected to reach $1.471 trillion this year, a 20 percent increase over 2013.

So how can traditional brick-and-mortar grocery stores avoid becoming an antiquated shopping format? To drive in-store traffic, they need to embrace and integrate the very vehicles that are prompting people to shop online. Here’s how digital and social media can be the saving grace of physical stores.

Bloggers the Embodiment of Modern Shoppers

Professional bloggers are creating the shopping list for the in-store visit. Influencer-generated content is now showcasing trips to the grocery store as their “one-stop shop” for getting everything they require for tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s birthday party and this weekend’s baseball game. High-grade photos highlight what they are buying and where their readers can find the same products. Take advantage of the significant reach of blogger networks to cast your store in a modern and convenient light.

Social Media is the New Search Engine

Social media is the preeminent point of discovery for products and services today. According to a study by GE Capital Research Bank, 81 percent of consumers research products online before heading to the store. The more people are organically talking about your brand, the more people in their networks are likely to trust their positive recommendations and recall them when making their shopping lists.

Digital Channels Highlight Versatility of In-store Products

What are “one-note” products? That is, the typical household items like batteries and cleaning agents that usually serve a single purpose. Use online content to feature unconventional and refreshing approaches to utilizing conventional products. Consumers will appreciate the creativity, while simultaneously being endowed with more reasons to purchase those specific items at your store.

Social Can Humanize Brands

It's incredibly easy for a brand to come off as unreachable – or worse, robotic. In today’s social-first world, consumers are going for brands with personality that they can engage with across a number of platforms. Give your social media presence some heart – consumers are 50 percent more likely to buy from a brand they can connect with it on social media, according to Brickfish. Include location-specific coupons, recipes and other media that point shoppers precisely to your store. Using social to directly interact with and respond to your current (and potential) customers in a timely manner will make all the difference when they're deciding where to do their shopping next.

Employing digital and social media in authentic ways that provide context to consumers will help drive the traffic and “share of wallet” that brick-and-mortar stores are currently fighting online venues for. By providing relevancy through content, shoppers see why your store is germane to their everyday needs and will continue to be dedicated in-store aisle-browsers and brand advocates.

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