‘Digitization Alone Isn’t Enough’ for Schnucks

St. Louis-based Schnucks partners with Looma to create destination for adult beverages
Photograph courtesy of Schnucks

“Experiential” is the new buzzword for the in-store shopping environment in 2021, and undoubtedly for years to come.

With this in mind, Schnucks has partnered with point-of-decision storytelling platform Looma to create an experiential destination for adult beverages across some 100 stores chainwide. The partnership with Looma is the first of its kind for Schnucks. This month, tablets designed for storytelling were installed in the beer and wine departments of 89 Schnucks stores.

Known as Loop, “the program introduces shoppers to the real people whose craft, sweat and love imbue the products at-shelf via short, human-centric videos playing on smart tablets, better informing purchasing decisions in the process,” said Looma in a release.

The North Carolina-based tech startup has a growing presence in retail that now extends to more than 350 stores across seven states. The company prides itself on its people-first storytelling approach and proprietary point-of-decision optimization model aimed at making content both more authentic and more helpful to shoppers seeking transparency in their purchases.

“The best retailers are doubling down on in-store experience," said Cole Johnson, Looma's founder and CEO. “Digitization alone isn’t enough, though,” he warned. “It has to be about discovery, education, immersion—connecting shoppers to the people and places and stories behind their products.”

Loop's success in other deployments demonstrates a healthy appetite for guidance on purchasing decisions in beer and wine, in particular, according to the company. Across Looma programs, brands see an average of 92% sales growth when first featured on Loop, followed by 25% the following month, the company states. When installed on an endcap, the endcap sells 51% more product, while 30% of shoppers trying a Loop-featured product are trying it for the first time, adds the company. 

“Shoppers increasingly want to make educated and informed decisions,” said Julie Dean, Schnucks category manager, beverage alcohol. “Looma allows us to create a stronger connection between shoppers and the brands they love while simultaneously introducing them to new ones.”

“At Schnucks, we are hyper -on creating unique, tailored customer experiences. It’s all about nourishing the lives of our customers by enabling enriched, informed shopping experiences,” Tom Henry, Schnucks chief data officer and deputy CIO, said in a statement. “Deploying Looma digital technologies within our stores has enabled our customers to make product selections with increased knowledge and confidence.”

Shoppers Seek Wine, Beer and Spirits In-Store

Recent studies show that while online grocery sales have surged since the pandemic, the vast majority of shoppers prefer to purchase adult beverages in-store.

According to a new survey from ChaseDesign of Skaneateles, N.Y., almost 90% of all beer, wine and spirits purchases in the last year were made in-store, and that share is expected to rise post-pandemic. Customers still prefer shopping in-store vs. online because they enjoy being in control of their experience and want the ability to browse,” said ChaseDesign in a release. 

Regarding in-store experience, 53% say they enjoy seeing beverage choices in person; 42% report they like to pick up products to learn more about them; 41% say it’s easier to discover new brands in-store; 37% indicate they like the overall atmosphere in a store, notes ChaseDesign.

Additionally, more than one-third of shoppers say something is missing when it comes to the online adult-beverage shopping experience, with 35% commenting that store associates who know about beverage options are missed while shopping online.

The ChaseDesign Beer, Wine and Spirits Shopping Trends survey also reports that while buying alcohol online for pickup at store and home delivery levels increased dramatically during the pandemic, it is in now experiencing a decline. Earlier in the pandemic, 40% reported buying alcohol online, but that share is down to 35% now and trending toward the 30% pre-pandemic levels.

“The results of our shopper survey certainly support the need for both online and in-store as part of an overall solution in adult beverages. But overall omnichannel strategies should recognize shopper’s preference toward in-store and be mindful of the trade-offs online purchases mean,” said Joe Lampertius, president at ChaseDesign.



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