21st Century Grocery: Open for Business

21st Century Grocery: Open for Business

By Mike Corbett, Jody Wasbro, Lee Peterson

In the last two months we’ve witnessed an already turbulent grocery market explode into a flurry of activity. From safety measures, to empty shelves, to reduced store hours and all the missing toilet paper, grocers are being forced to respond and react quickly to the changing and demanding needs of their associates and customers.

This is the most challenging time that our community has faced. Yet we see stories, brands and people on the front lines that are inspiring hope.

We believe that through clear vision, creative thinking, purposeful action and continued learning and evolving, brands can not only survive but innovate and thrive beyond this current crisis.

There are several key areas to consider and learn from including best-in-class examples, BOPIS findings, operational considerations, and an integration of health and wellness. Not to mention how to get it all done, from code compliance to storage to refrigeration to staffing models, dotting i’s and crossing t’s is critical to executing with excellence.

In this article we’ll share a preview of our thinking from our newest Grocery POV on how to succeed in the ever-changing environment. Feel free to download the full report here.

Let’s start by sharing a framework in which to work through the opportunity areas for your brand. While this specific article and examples below are geared towards grocery, the following four steps can be applied to any vertical.

  1. Uncover the possibilities
    Amidst the urgent need to act, understand your path forward.
  2. Devise a plan
    Identify the opportunities to lean into your strengths or pivot in a new direction.
  3. Create your platform
    Design the solution that’s right for your brand and your customers.
  4. Scaling the innovation
    Show up in a way that defines your brand, then learn and evolve to meet customer needs.

In addition to these four steps as a process for moving forward, we look at how a brand can either reassess (picture a new or evolved way of doing something) or reenvision (pivot in order to meet current and future needs) their experience.

Let’s double click into a couple of these steps…

  1. Uncover the possibilities

Finding your best way forward goes beyond wearing gloves and adding plastic shields. It’s about looking forward to see how your brand & offering can remain relevant to the changing needs of your customers.

Do you need to reassess?

Are you already fulfilling current guest needs during this crisis? Do you have:

  • Contactless pick-up methods that provide convenience and a sense of safety?
  • Safety measures in place for customers and associates?
  • Updated staffing plans to account for restocking, pickers and sanitizing?

Or do you need to reenvision?

Is it time to pivot to find new relevance or new guests? Do you have:

  • Additional services to offer your customers? Something that differentiates you from competition?
  • Frictionless experiences that address your customer’s needs and pain points?
  • A vision for leveraging stores as fulfillment centers?

One example to explore is BOPIS. Buy Online Pick Up In Store. Order pick up. Instore
pick up. Click & Collect. Regardless of the name, the retail service is table stakes. But how you execute it is the clincher.

Just a short time ago, it was a huge win for retailers just to offer it. Now, if you don’t do BOPIS really well, customers will go elsewhere. In fact, consumers have said so in our research, and they continue to vote with their dollars as BOPIS usage increases.

As more consumers use BOPIS, retailers need to refine their offering including operations, staffing models, equipment and storage, wayfinding and execution in
order to keep customers coming back.

  1. Devise a plan

After establishing whether to reassess or reenvision your brand, choose clear strategies that you can bring to life. How can you lean into your strengths? Or, find the right direction to pivot?

What does that all look like in practice? We’ve developed a rendering on what the Grocery Store of the Future could look like and called out some key areas based on the idea of reassess / reenvision.

  • Reassess by utilizing existing assets to create a flexible floorplan
  • Reassess anticipated wait times for customers in order to minimize them through proper queuing
  • Reenvision the roll of digital throughout the customer’s shopping experience from mobile to pick-up to in-store
  • Reenvision by creating a multi-channel hub—a small format fresh food grocery and eatery plus an online order fulfillment, pick-up and delivery center
  • Reenvision total cost of facility operations maintenance and energy management (refrigeration, conditioning, lighting, etc.)

We’d love to share the rest of the four steps with you including our five recommendations for executing with success that will hopefully provide insights for your business today and tomorrow.

Please download the full POV here


Mike Corbett
Mike Corbett
Senior Vice President
WD Partners
Lee Peterson
Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Thought Leadership & Marketing
WD Partners
Jody Wasbro
Jody Wasbro
Senior Vice President, Strategy & Experience Design
WD Partners

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