It’s true that estimates say major banners such as Sears and Macy’s will lead the way in closing over 3,000 stores in 2018. Many blame Amazon and other e-retailers, and the reality is that Americans are spending more—just in different ways.
The problem is that many retailers are trying to replicate a physical retail experience in a digital environment—and many miss the mark.
According to a Walker study, by 2020, the customer experience will be a more important brand differentiator than product or price, and as many as 86% of customers will pay more for an experience they prefer. That means the move to digital is less important overall than the improvement of the end-to-end shopping experience across all channels, the report says.
Supermarkets are actually leading the way for change, and seem to be balancing physical and digital spaces. At the same time, they are focused on a sense of authenticity. Online grocery shopping is expected to grow fivefold by 2025, reaching $100 billion in annual sales.
Supermarkets are being smart about using tech-driven solutions, including mobile shopping, curbside pickup and home delivery—which solve the problem that many people have with standing in a checkout line. They are also remodeling and upping their game with retail dietitians and grocerants, and are trying to become the center of their communities. According to PwC study, 70% of shoppers worldwide still prefer to buy groceries in-store.
And supermarkets are developing new tools for brands. For example, Albertsons has launched a new program that gives brands metrics on the impact of digital ads on in-store sales—which comes at a time when many CPG advertisers such as P&G have slashed their digital ad budgets—and Amazon is instituting its data intelligence at Whole Foods to learn more about shoppers’ habits.