Read the Rest of the Report
(Editors' note: This is part five of a five-part series)
Although human capital and competition remain the chief concerns over which grocers lose sleep, keeping up with technology has reached unprecedented heights of concern, rising to No. 3 (45.5 percent) from No. 9 since last year’s Annual Report. And while Amazon might have many grocers backed into a corner, these retailers aren’t going down without a fight: Nearly three in four (73.6 percent) respondents plan to increase their technology spend in 2018.
Technological innovations for marketing and merchandising have taken priority over traditional methods in 2018: Taking up the top three spots on the list of important strategies are in-store signage/digital media (71.1 percent), digital marketing (67.5 percent) and mobile marketing (57.9 percent), trailed far behind by direct mail (38.6 percent), newspaper inserts (29.8 percent), newspaper ads (23.7 percent), radio advertising (19.3 percent) and TV advertising (18.4 percent).
Social media no longer seems to be the greatest value in mobile for grocers: Facebook, which topped last year’s list, fell dramatically in this year’s survey (59.1 percent to 25.9 percent), while order online/pickup in-store (42.6 percent versus 27.9 percent last year); POS loyalty card (32.4 percent versus 23.6 percent); ecoupons (55.6 percent versus 51.9 percent); and personalized discounts (27.8 percent versus 23.4 percent) saw stronger favor. Mobile wallets and scan-as-you-go/bypass checkout, although not represented last year, were selected by 16.7 percent and 17.6 percent of respondents, respectively.
Several grocers have been working to connect their loyalty and coupon programs with their ecommerce operations over the past year, including Northeastern club chain BJ’s Wholesale Club, Minnesota grocer Lunds & Byerlys, and Midwest retailer-wholesaler SpartanNash. Other grocers nationwide, such as Jewel-Osco, Safeway, and Stop & Shop, have even worked to bring digital coupons to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.