The retail grocery industry is at a crossroads of sorts, with the looming rise of digital transformation having a profound impact on the marketplace.

Grocers have, for the most part, been immune to the effects of the digital revolution. As other corners of the retail industry experienced significant drops in both foot traffic and in-store sales, supermarkets held their ground.

Although the unique nature of the retail grocery industry has kept digital disruption at bay, the tide is turning. With Amazon’s entrance into the marketplace – and its subsequent price cuts – potentially sweeping changes could be coming. To stay competitive in this evolving landscape, grocers must embrace data analytics to identify opportunities to streamline operations, reduce unnecessary costs, and increase revenue.

Get ready for change

It’s hard to envision a world where consumers give up on the current grocery store model altogether in favor of a delivery service or other options, but there’s no denying that disruptive forces have drastically cut into industry profits.

Shoppers are less likely to make multiple trips each week to the same stores for their grocery needs. According to a 2017 Food Marketing Institute report, the number of average weekly trips grocery store customers make has steadily declined over the last few years, dropping from 2.2 in 2012 to 1.5 today.

Moreover, consumers are more likely to shop around to find the best deals and pick up items that cannot be found at traditional grocers, such as organic or ethnic foods. The days of shoppers sticking with their local supermarket for all of their needs are long gone.

Of particular note is the uptick in online grocer activity. In 2016, only 5 percent of shoppers purchased groceries through such channels. That figure increased to 11 percent in 2017.

Let data be your guide

With dwindling foot traffic and increased competition from digital channels, it’s more important than ever for the retail grocery industry to cut out costly inefficiencies and streamline operations. Data analytics would be a huge help in this regard, bringing powerful insights to light on everything from shopper behavior to internal workflows.

The best analytics projects rely on a consistent supply of real-time, accurate data to keep those insights flowing. Grocers can facilitate this process by equipping field employees with mobile data extraction platforms that empower them to gather information at the store level quickly and efficiently and then disseminate that data to all analytics stakeholders. This ensures that analytics projects only work with the most up-to-date information possible and can continue probing for potential opportunities to increase revenue and reduce costs.

The retail grocery industry can’t ignore the digital world forever. To meet the challenges created by market disruption head-on, grocers need to become leaner and more efficient. Data analytics initiatives can help businesses identify those powerful competitive advantages.

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