Food and Grocery is one of the fastest growing segments in retail and as per an estimate, by 2022 consumers could be spending $100 Billion on online grocery alone, constituting more than 20% of the overall market, worth almost $ 1.5 trillion.
While there is a dip in disposable income of an average citizen, the daily bread and meat is not something she can cut down on. Retailers must build their strategy keeping her in focus, giving her the seamless and intuitive shopping experience, she desires. This is in line with what Gartner suggests, it is vital to reorganize merchandising and marketing around the needs of the consumer. But it is easier said than done. According to a study by FMI and Nielsen – many retailers are not prepared tomeet the needs of omnichannel food shoppers, not for lack of multichannel assets or touchpoints, but for want of cohesive strategy integrating the physical stores and online business processes. They are struggling with fragmented data and are “failing to adequately share shopper data, segmentation and other consumer insights leading to missed opportunities”, the report claims. Poor forecasting ability also hinders scalability for the retailers. Most retailers find it challenging to strike a balance between demand planning and response execution and fail to reach the right customer at the right time with the right offer. Their marketing promotions are still following the traditional product-centric strategies rather than being aligned to customer choice and preference.
The new age realities are making the hitherto followed strategies and processes redundant. In today’s world, the shopper is being lured with sophisticated technologies that not only recognize them as individuals, pre-empt their shopping needs, but also help them plan their shopping and make most of the prevailing offers. How do the average grocery retailers keep pace with such sophistication? What should they do if they must survive and thrive in the omnichannel world and make their storefront an attraction for the customer to pay repeat visits? How can they come closer to the customer and re-imagine their entire business by keeping the customer in the focus – be it merchandise, inventory, store operations or marketing? Further, how can they empower the teams on the shop floor with insights and prescriptive actions to deliver unique experiences to the customer and ensure the suppliers are always replenishing the right shelves with the right assortment?
But the real question is – how does a Food and Grocery retailer get around to actually doing all this? Today, all that we discussed above can be easily enabled with advanced, predictive and prescriptive analytics aided by AI and Machine Learning. However, retailers need to be careful while deciding on the right solution in the crowded “me too” market. There are many solutions that claim horizontal capabilities that can fit any industry. Retailers must invest in analytics that does not pretend to understand retail but is built exclusively for retail. Informed decisions must not be restricted to the corner office but spread to the shop floor. As the era of on premise solutions erodes, retailers must look for SaaS subscription models and modernize their BI infrastructure with a Cloud-Based, AI and Advanced Analytics platform that can save 40% of cost currently spent on maintenance and upgrades.
Spreadsheets and dated reports are relics in this era. Replace the reporting systems with AI and Analytics systems that help predict future events and prescribe best actions. Empower the in-house teams to execute omnichannel marketing campaigns at 60% of the agency costs. The retailers can also increase the productivity of the IT teams with easy to use BI platform, Self Service Analytics, and AI conversation agents. These capabilities are very much within the reach, both in terms of cost and time investments. In fact, there are some marquee solutions that can hit the ground running and leapfrog the analytics journey in a matter of weeks.
The Food and Grocery reality for 2018 is very different from what it was, say even last year. Retailers are catering to a highly involved, hyper-connected and ‘spoilt for choice’ shopper, who is used to getting her desires pre-empted and fulfilled, here and now. Reimagine the store, reimagine the communication, and reimagine the assortment and pricing. Modern retail is about crafting a unique experience for each shopper and building the entire strategy with her at the center. The retailers must leverage the data they capture for accurate, real-time prescriptions for immediate impact. This is the era of here and now actions – the journey from data to insight to action to measurement must be completed in just a few clicks.