Grocery Research Preview

Improving bricks means integrating clicks

Discover what more than 2,000 grocery shoppers in 48 states like about physical shopping experiences — and how digital solutions could make them even better.

Fifteen years ago, when Amazon and other online retailers were gaining serious momentum, industry pundits declared it the beginning of the end of physical retail. In addition to buying their books and music online, consumers would soon turn to their browsers for groceries, pet food, pharmacy items and other daily staples. Stores, everywhere, would be shuttered.

True for some, untrue for many, many others. Indeed, grocery stores are flourishing, with concepts at both high and low ends offering new footprints, services and product mixes. And yet, for the grocery niche in particular, there’s a disconnect between all these traditional retail innovations and the digital assistance grocery shoppers have come to expect from nearly every other retail brand they love. Groceries are, ironically, besting online alternatives surviving without using technology to build brand and help customers shop. Which means the grocery that enhances its traditional experience could see a huge advantage.

We decided… this deserves a closer look.

That’s the goal of WD’s first major research initiative of 2012. Titled “Clicks and Bricks,” the study was designed to measure customer satisfaction when shopping 12 national and major regional grocery chains. Respondents were asked to rate the offering, service, and other experience in the stores they regularly visit.

“Some brands are better at making their customers happy than others. This study gives a window into these experiences. It’s useful to know who’s best at what — and how the lower customer experience scores might be improved.”

Lee Peterson
EVP, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

One key to improvement, the study suggests, is digital engagement. “When a customer can make both a physical and digital connection to the grocery store, they’ll get more out of the brand,” says Peterson. “Many other retail channels they experience are already succeeding at this.” And yet, the grocery is the place customers go most often — and where their loyalty is always a risk. So looking at experience gaps, and how digital might

a reliable base of feedback

The Clicks and Bricks Study was designed to assure the reliability of the data. An initial, demographically and geographically balanced group of more than 3,500 consumers were invited to participate in the study. From this group, about 900 were removed if they were involved in marketing or advertising fields, or were infrequent shoppers of the stores in the study. Another 400 were removed if their responses were inconsistent or answered too hastily. The resulting 2002 respondents provided very reliable feedback on grocery shopping experiences.

a revealing look at high performers

When the full study is released in March, it will showcase the Top Five Performers in five key categories: Service (responsiveness of staff), Community (perception of the store’s connection to the area and social good), Offer (breadth and depth of product choices) Navigation (ease of finding what they need), and Experience (overall feel about shopping).

Among the surprising findings: A couple of overall top performing grocery chains did not fare as well as expected in the Experience category, and there were only a small handful of grocers who performed well in the Service category. This study will reveal some very clear opportunities for growth for specific grocery chains.

crossing the digital divide

In addition to the study’s shopper-related physical numbers (everyone shops the store regardless of technology) we now have the ability to look at need and desire for digital shopping assistance and brand building. We’ll provide a preview into which retailers have the greatest opportunity and shopper need to provide digital solutions.

here’s a quick glimpse at the study’s analysis:

  • 73% of all of the shoppers are doing something digital in the store regardless of retailer.
  • 58% of all shoppers have at least some or many unmet digital needs at the store level.

shoppers indicate digital can:

  • 92.2% Help me save money
  • 80.1% Help me save time
  • 65.5% Help me locate a product in the store
  • 59.2% Help me discover new and different foods
  • 55.5% Help me make a more nutritious food choice
  • 30.4% Learn what others think about items

Today, virtually none of the leading groceries are meeting these needs.


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