Organisations Map Out Vision for the Future of Physical Grocery Stores

Grocery research organisation IGD and The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) have outlined 10 areas bricks and mortar grocery retailers must focus on to ensure they remain relevant for shoppers in an increasingly digital age

The companies' latest free-to-download The Evolution of the Physical Store report highlights the forces informing and influencing store evolution, reveals global case studies of best practice and offers checklists for retailers to ensure they make the most of the advice contained in the document.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD said, “The digital world is advancing at lightning speed and the online shopping experience will just keep improving, which means it could be challenging for physical stores to remain relevant for shoppers in the future. However, we believe there will always be a place for bricks and mortar stores in grocery retailing, as physical stores will always be best placed to deliver instant gratification, impulse purchases and customer service. So, we expect the store of the future to merge the physical and digital worlds, to create a much more absorbing experience featuring fresh food, new products, unique events and more ways to taste, learn and discover. Retailers and manufacturers must therefore work collaboratively, to prepare for the very different future taking shape around us.”

Ruediger Hagedorn, senior manager, collaborative value chain initiatives & projects at CBF said, "The consumer goods industry has been presented with enormous opportunities in recent years. It is important companies continue to be forward thinking and ready to evolve if they want to meet changing consumer demands and overcome increasing supply chain complexities. The latest addition to our End-to-End Learning Series will help companies understand what will shape grocery food and retail in the future and how to respond. Supported by IGD's research, the Evolution of the Physical Store provides a concrete checklist on what companies should consider today to better prepare for tomorrow".

The top 10 areas for retailers and suppliers to consider are:

Understand shoppers and their missions – best-in-class retailers increasingly recognise and cater for shoppers’ different missions, but there is still more to be done. In our vision of the future, distinctions between formats will become less relevant and retailers and suppliers will engage and interact with shoppers in a much more individual way

Better data will enable better service – enhanced use of data and analytics will help retailers make more informed decisions around their ranges. Personalisation will also be a major part of the store of the future

Be ready to enable flexible store designs – robotics and technology will free up more space in-store that can be used to excite shoppers and drive footfall, with more focus on fresh food, mission-focused fixtures and convenient meal options

Invest in staff – one of the main benefits of using more robotics and technology in-store will be to free up staff to focus on value-added services. As technology removes some of the human elements of in-store services, it will be essential for companies to have a friendly face to bring their brands to life

Reconsider stores’ ranges – a key element in creating an engaging store will be offering what e-commerce cannot. Shoppers’ more regular purchases will have increasingly shifted online, so stores’ ranges will need to be unique, adaptable and relevant

Remove friction from the whole journey – retailers will need to understand where and why there is friction in shoppers’ journeys around their stores. A speedy experience at the checkout is very important to shoppers, so removing checkouts altogether could be a big gain, also freeing up space for new features and fixtures and giving staff the opportunity to spend more time helping and inspiring shoppers

Build and support brands – for retailers and suppliers preparing for the store of the future, investing in brands will be important. Brand integrity is and will continue to be crucial and manufacturers will need to continue to invest to find creative ways to build and support their brand

Involve the supply chain team earlier and more often – more pressure will be placed on retailers’ supply chains to meet shoppers’ demands. Retailers will need greater understanding of demand planning and the ability to react quickly, plus greater collaboration across the chain

New stores will require different ways to measure success – retailers will need to come up with new ways of measuring success for the store of the future and demands created by shoppers

Get buy-in from the top and from partners in the chain – creating the store of the future will require investment and long-term planning. Retailers will need to establish and maintain a company-wide view of how the store will develop for their brands, putting the shopper at the heart of this evolution. Senior teams will need to commit to drive these wide-ranging, long-term changes

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