The New Haven Register has a piece looking at how Amazon is expanding its offerings and footprint across the state of Connecticut, in which it quotes Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York City based Strategic Resource Group, as saying that “the supermarket industry is approaching a crossroads. Sales grew during COVID-19; but now, as more people are getting vaccinated, the amount of groceries being purchased for cooking at home has started to decline, he said.
“I expect there will still be some consumer trepidation about going into stores (in the short term),” Flickinger said. “You’ll probably see between 20 and 30 percent of consumers still order their groceries online.”
The story goes on:
“Taking a longer view, he said that online grocery shopping will continue to grow because of generational shifts. ‘For people 30-years-old and older, they will continue to do in-store grocery shopping,’ Flickinger said. ‘But for much younger people, those who are 18-to-29, so much of their experience is online that I expect to see them buy at least half their groceries there … My expectation is that they will continue to order non-perishable items online, even as they return to stores for some of their food items’.”
It seems to me that in some ways the most important thing that Flickinger is saying – and he should feel free to correct me on this – is that it is the supermarket industry that is at a cross roads.
It is up to retailers to adjust their sights – and, for that matter, their sites – and cater to the evolving and sometimes fickle needs and desires of shoppers., who will simply evolve and choose the shopping experiences that meet the moment.
Shoppers are not at any sort of crossroads. They’ve learned new behaviors over the past year or so, and gotten a sense of what is possible and available to them.
The smart retailers will adapt to the moment, developing customer-centric strategies and tactics that will morph with the consumer as opposed to dictating to the customer. They will be clear-eyed about what they are and, just as important, what they are not.
This has less to do with size, and more to do with ambition.
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