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How Grocers Can Survive (and Thrive) in the Age of Digital Disruption

In this day and age, the majority of retail executives rate digital adoption as a matter of survival. The reality is that in order for grocers to not only survive, but also thrive, in this ever-changing landscape, digital innovation is critical.

Consumers are more powerful and more informed than ever before. With widespread adoption of new technologies, they have instant access to information at any time and any place. They want a seamless experience through any channel, whether they’re in a physical store or shopping online, on a desktop or a tablet.

At the same time, grocers also have eCommerce powerhouses—like Amazon—to contend with, while smaller players continue to gain momentum in regional markets.

With all these disruptive changes taking place in the industry, how can grocers survive—and thrive—in the age of digital disruption?

1. Pay attention to emerging market trends

And that’s not only in the retail industry—but in others as well. Soak in trade publications, business magazines, thought-leadership platforms and other types of media to gain insights into larger market trends.

2. Learn about new technologies and see how they can benefit your business

Notice consumer adoption rates and see how consumers integrate and interact with new technologies in their lives.

3. Observe the competition

Scoping out your competitors is a natural place to start in any situation. Try and determine what's working for them and what isn't, while looking for trends and clues about where the market is headed.

4. Identify goals upfront

What business problem are you trying to solve? What metrics can be used to measure success? How will the digital investment impact the customer experience?

5. Determine what’s held you back in the past

All too often, retailers find it difficult to integrate back-office technologies across all of their channels. What's more, even though many businesses report having set up omni-channel teams, organizational silos and conflicting priorities remain a key challenge. Determine exactly what it is that's held you back with your digital initiatives in the past, and consider ways to overcome those barriers.

6. Ensure everyone’s on the same page

Success is dependent on the team—the group that will collectively get the organization where it needs to go. This may include people who don’t always share the same path and priorities, with diverse groups from IT, marketing, operations and finance. Getting everyone rowing in the same direction can undoubtedly be a challenge, but it's the ticket to success.

7. Don’t go it alone

Create and leverage a strong ecosystem of outside partners. Remember that no single company can do it all.

8. Think long-term

For the store of the future, the possibilities are limitless. Around the globe, leading-edge retailers are giving a glimpse into what lies ahead. Advancements in retail technology demonstrate the many ways in which grocers can use technologies to gain a competitive edge. Remember: simply being accessible through multiple mediums is no longer enough.

9. Leverage shopper data

“Big data” may seem like a buzzword, but it’s critical to businesses’ digital transformation. Massive amounts of customer interactions at multiple touch points have led to a goldmine of data that allows retailers to transform the shopping experience. Leveraging this data will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of consumers’ interests, purchase preferences, shopping patterns and levels of satisfaction, and will allow you to provide tailored shopping experience through personalization.

10. Create a roadmap

A roadmap is a strategic guide that will help prioritize the work and avoid being reactionary in the future. With a clear roadmap, you can better align your business.

The Bottom Line

We’re experiencing seismic shifts in the retail landscape and these changes are only getting bigger, more intense and more immediate. With all this change, companies have a choice to respond with fear and do nothing, or embrace this space with enthusiasm and excitement.

Those who fight fear and take action now will be the big winners in the retail space.

Ready to dive into this brave new world? Check out our eBook, “A Survival Guide to Digital Retail”.

Stefanie Neyland
Stefanie Neyland is a Content Marketing Manager at Mercatus, specializing in all things grocery eCommerce.

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