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Multichannel shoppers pick the low-hanging fruit, including apples and oranges

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — With shoppers looking for ways to buy things more conveniently, it’s clear that the age of the multichannel consumer is well under way, and retailers would be wise to respond in kind. Many of them have already done so.

According to retail consulting firm Upstream Commerce, convenience ranks at the top of reasons why consumers shop online, and as recent news has shown, this is just as true for supermarkets as it is for anyone else.

(THE NEWS: Kroger looking to expand its footprint into new markets, both physical and digital. Click here for the story.) 

In addition to Kroger’s plans to reach more multichannel consumers, Ahold has made a major push for them as well recently. Earlier this month, Peapod, the online grocery delivery service owned by Ahold, announced it would roll out its "virtual grocery stores" at commuter rail stations in Chicago and several markets in the Northeast. The "stores" consist of billboards that allow commuters with iPhones, iPads and Android devices to scan a QR code, download an app and shop by scanning bar codes. Even in New York, where the supermarket is often just a couple blocks away, FreshDirect trucks are a common sight.

Another major reason for consumer preference for online shopping listed by Upstream was pricing. With Wednesday’s announcement of a survey commissioned by CouponCabin.com and conducted by Harris Interactive showing that more than 40% of smartphone owners "showroom" — going into stores to research items without buying them and then looking for the same items online to find lower prices — the ability to capture multichannel consumers is all the more imperative. Granted, the survey indicated that showrooming was more common among consumers looking for items like apparel and electronics, but it’s a clear indication that the key to capturing today’s consumer is high convenience, competitive cost.

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Supermarkets facing competition as grocery leader

BY Gail Hoffer

FORT LEE, N.J. — Supermarkets are facing increased competition from dollar stores, according to a new survey from Perception Research Services International.

Supermarkets continue to be the primary channel where consumers purchase groceries but are continuing to face challenges from other retail formats. PRS’ survey results indicate that supermarkets are still where most shoppers (91%) have purchased groceries in the past three months (in line with last year’s 92%), and mass merchandisers are still their largest competitive threat (73% purchase groceries there – down from 76% in 2011). But this year’s data shows that dollar stores are gaining momentum as the percentage of shoppers who purchase groceries at Dollar Stores has increased, from 32% in 2011 to 35% in 2012.  Alternatively, levels at drug and convenience are holding steady relative to last year (46%/47% and 23%/ 24% respectively).

While consumers purchase beverages and food generally at the same rate across mass merchandisers and dollar stores, cleaning supplies and personal care items are purchased more often at dollar stores. In addition to these items, shelf stable products at dollar stores are most competitive with mass merchandisers.

This survey also revealed that shoppers prefer supermarkets for selection, mass merchandisers and dollar stores for price and drug and convenience stores for price.

During 2012, more shoppers utilized sales/coupons (83%) and quantity/size control (70%) to save money than in 2011, the survey found. Most importantly, this year significantly more shoppers claimed to have switched brands to curb costs (61% vs, 49%).

"Our latest findings on grocery shopping indicate how very discerning today’s shoppers are – about their venue preferences as well as brand choices," said Jonathan Asher, EVP at PRS. "Retailers must understand their competitive strengths and capitalize on them, while also making the necessary adjustments to their offerings to seize opportunities for a larger slice of the pie as shoppers are more open to new shopping possibilities than they have been since the 1950’s with the advent of large, supermarket chains."

This online study was conducted among over 1,500 shoppers, aged 18 and over, during June, 2012.

 

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Shopping guide to made-in-USA products released

BY Alaric DeArment

LOS ANGELES — With the holiday shopping season approaching, one group has released a guide to goods produced domestically.

The Made in USA Foundation announced the latest edition of the "All-American Holiday Gift Guide," which shows readers how to buy American-made Christmas and Hannukah gifts, ornaments and cards, with sections on toys, jewelry, games and other items for men, women and children. Co-published with Made in USA Certified, the 115-page guide also includes food-related items, such as chocolates, blenders and stoves.

"Companies are coming back to the United States," Made in USA Foundation chairman Joel Joseph said. "Consumers are demanding American-made products, and U.S. companies are more competitive than ever in making high-quality consumer goods."

The guide is available on the foundation’s website and Amazon.com for $9.95 as a paperback or $2.99 as an electronic book.

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