Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Have Opportunities to Shine vs. Online Competitors: GMDC

As trust in healthcare systems declines, study finds consumers turning to local retailers for advice
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As the competition between brick-and-mortar and online sales progresses, Global Market Development Center (GMDC) predicts certain merchandising categories will become obsolete in physical retail by 2025.

However, brick-and-mortar retailers appear to have an advantage when it comes to health and wellness products for which shoppers seek "authentic in-store experiences, enhanced services and personalized expert advice focused on products supporting healthy lifestyles," according to GMDC. 

Further research from GMDC supports this idea, finding that only 53% of U.S. citizens trust the healthcare systems, a drop of 9% over only one year, which means consumers are tending to gravitate toward alternative options such as local retailers to help them live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, 9 out of 10 consumers reported a desire for retailers to be more involved in their personal wellness. The health, beauty and personal care department has grown the second fastest of any retail department during the past year (second only to the deli) and the third fastest over the past four years (to the deli and produce departments), the study noted.

GMDC advised that brick-and-mortar would be wise to help meet this demand by transforming into "healthy-living experts," which could "help retailers differentiate and grow in the face of shifting retail competition by engaging with customers, providing personalized recommendations and building trust with shoppers," GMDC officials said, adding that retailers can expect to see an increase in customers loyalty and boosted profits. 

Some retailers are already ahead of the times in this department. Wakefern Food Corp.'s ShopRite division has developed a rigorous retail dietitian program with added customer outreach such as its Well Everyday program and even in-store fitness classes, and Southeastern Grocers, Hy-Vee and Stater Bros have all recently made improvements to pharmacy service.

“Consumers continue to gravitate toward online shopping for convenience reasons,” said Mark Mechelse, GMDC’s VP of insights and communications. “However, trading partners’ ability to convert, educate and have meaningful self-care conversations can only happen in the physical store. Selecting the right supplier who has a relentless focus on those strategies is essential to win."

Analgesics, adult incontinence and homeopathic products were among the top-growing categories identified in the report.


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