4 In-Store Experience Challenges in Digital Grocery
At a Glance
- Digital sales at $29.9 billion accounted for 13.9% of overall grocery sales in the first quarter of 2023
- Digital sales witnessed a dip of nearly 2% in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022
- While there has been a shift to digital sales over the last few years, many customers continue to support physical stores
- The in-store experience is definitely an advantage for brick-and-mortar retail
- This article explores the challenges grocers face while enhancing the in-store experience
Digital sales have increased over the last few years due to the pandemic. However, the once-in-a-while marginal dips indicate that many customers still prefer the physical stores. The recent Grocery Doppio performance scorecard reported that digital sales at $29.9 billion accounted for 13.9% of overall grocery sales in the first quarter of 2023. Whereas digital sales at $30.5 billion accounted for 14.8% of overall grocery sales in Q1 2022. Digital sales witnessed a dip of nearly 2% in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022.
While there has been a shift to digital sales over the last few years, many customers continue to support physical stores. With convenience becoming increasingly important to customers, why do many still prefer the brick-and-mortar model? A straightforward answer to that is experience.
The in-store experience is definitely an advantage for brick-and-mortar retail. However, grocers face many challenges to ensure this differentiating experience is brought to their customers. Here, we look at some of these challenges:
As increasingly more customers seek a contactless experience, it becomes mandatory for stores to offer services like curbside pickup. Grocers must ensure that they provide a great in-store experience to their customers and seamlessly integrate critical digital offerings. The unprecedented pace of omnichannel growth is challenging and requires a considerable amount of investment, both in terms of cost and time, to create a successful in-store experience.
While we have previously discussed how a seamless in-store experience enables grocers to manage inventory better, it is essentially a Catch-22 situation. The shorter shelf-life of goods in the grocery sector and the need to regulate humidity and temperature to maintain the freshness of products make it challenging for grocers to optimize inventory. Additionally, the modern store experience has shifted from standardized and simple extensive volume inventories to more complex and fresh products. This is an obstacle that grocers must navigate to ensure a great in-store experience.
Most grocery stores still need help understanding the magnitude of technological advances required to improve the in-store experience. Even the ones who comprehend often cite a lack of time and skilled resources as a significant barrier to implementing these tech solutions. While many digital transformation mechanisms exist, from inventory management tools to automation and robotic capabilities, their implementation is still a hurdle that grocers need to combat to leverage fully.
Customer expectations have significantly evolved over the past few years, and it continues to do so. Keeping track of these expectations and satisfying these growing demands can prove to be cumbersome for grocers. Grocery retailers need ‘big data’ capabilities to accurately forecast and fulfill customer demand and expectations. Moreover, understanding customer expectations is vital to creating an in-store experience that not only meets these expectations but also results in improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.