LITTLE ROCK, ARK. - Technology and media solution expert Vestcom has published insights on how to meet evolving shopper needs based on the lasting impacts of COVID-19 in the grocery sector. 

Vestcom’s Meeting Shoppers’ Needs at the Point of Decision shares insights designed to help retailers pivot with a competitive advantage to the new landscape created and accelerated by COVID-19, in which shoppers have more options than ever before.  

The company pointed out that although new shopping channels are on the rise, the physical store remains very relevant with grocery visits returning to pre-COVID levels and foot traffic improving at most retailers. While e-commerce is expected to rise from 3.6% to 5.9% by 2021, that still leaves brick and mortar stores as the dominant channel driving sales. 

Vestcom suggests retailers meet customers at the shelf edge with the following strategies: 

  • Be nimble: optimize assortment and space allocation quickly – Assortment of the shelf needs to reflect what shoppers are looking for. According to Vestcom research product selection is the primary motivator keeping shoppers coming to the store vs. shopping online. It’s important for retailers to examine their assortment frequently because what shoppers are looking for is continually changing.  

  • Nearly 50% more consumers in May want to spend as little time as possible cooking vs. in March, showing an increased need for meal solutions and other convenience options. 

  • Between March and May there was a 10-point increase in consumers seeking out “something interesting” to eat when they cook at home, pointing to a need for new items and specialty flavors. 

  • Retailers that can find a way to adapt to changing consumer needs, will win their shoppers’ loyalty. 

  • Double down on the shopping experience by creating clarity at shelf – Rather than “treasure hunt” behavior consumers have exhibited in the past, shoppers now focus on finding what they need quickly and in one place.  

  • A recent IRI study found nearly half of shoppers choose their store mainly based on the ability to get their items in one place.  

  • Consumers have also become more comfortable switching stores if they can’t find what they need. Recent findings from McKinsey identified that 34% of consumers have increased their shopping on private label products and IRI found that 65% have switched to another brand because they couldn’t get what they needed. 

  • Retailers can respond to these shifts by reducing preventable out of stocks by ensuring teams are aware of new shelf sets; help shoppers find what they want via shelf-edge communications (calling out promotions, relevant product features, health attributes, etc.); communicate value at the shelf — 49% of consumers are concerned about grocery prices vs. 35% in March and 43% in early May.