Driving shopper missions, delivering value and leveraging digital are the three top ways to stand out from the crowd in convenience, according to Michael Freedman, shopper insight manager, IGD.
Presenting at IGD’s Convenience Retailing conference, Freedman said staple top-up shopping still dominates the convenience market.
IGD ShopperVista research with 1,000 shoppers found 60% go to c-stores for bread, milk and eggs, for instance.
However, there are signs the world is changing, said Freedman.
More missions in c-stores
IGD research found 74% of shoppers said they had bought something on impulse on their last visit to a c-store; while one in 10 shoppers were doing a main shop in convenience in August 2013, doubling since May 2013.
“That should open your eyes that convenience is more than a top-up shop and can be a destination shop,” said Freedman.
Shoppers also have different missions on different days, he said; and he questioned whether stores are delivering missions in a differentiated enough manner.
Propensity to use c-stores is growing too. While shoppers are willing to use c-stores for top-up on fruit, lunch and cold food-to-go, twice as many say they would like to go to c-stores for these missions than do so at the moment.
According to Freedman, more work can be done on food-to-go ranges and meal deals, offering better pricing across different meal time occasions such as breakfast.
“Simple offers and showcasing the breadth of range will encourage shoppers to buy across categories in one outlet without shopping around,” he said.
There is also more work to do to satisfy the fresh food shopper as less than half are satisfied with the existing range and quality, Feedman added.
C-stores also need to deliver better presentation and availability and consider whether their floorplans meet the missions shoppers want, said Freedman.
Shoppers are open to change and younger shoppers in particular.
Serve over counters in-store are number one on the list of shoppers’ requirements, Freedman revealed.
Value as part of the mix
Convenience retailers must also make it easier for shoppers to conduct their shop and save time by merchandising similar products in the same area, creating an events aisle, as well as tiering ranges by premium, standard and value, Freedman suggested.
The gloom is lifting on the economy, he said; although 80% of shoppers still think food prices will go up.
“Shoppers are out of pocket and only 33% are satisfied convenience stores will help them save money,” he said.
There is pressure for c-stores to help shoppers get the best value and value is key for both the convenient shopper and multi-channel shopper.
Shoppers are not choosing a c-store for its proximity to home, Freedman said. They choose firstly for quality and secondly for price.
But stores are hard to navigate, he claimed.
“Shoppers say they are confronted by a blizzard of promotions when they go in store,” said Freedman; and he advised stores consider if promotions are adding long-term value to the whole category.
Shoppers also want better quality ingredients, local foods, healthy options, brands and value beyond price to exceed their expectations.
Widespread adoption of technology is shaping the market too but Freedman questioned whether the sector was taking advantage of the opportunity digital technology provides. Just 35% of shoppers said they had a must-have grocery app but only 5% have one they can’t live without.
Freedman said stores should use technology to help shoppers save time and money, find out about products and their origin and how to lead a healthy lifestyle etc.
Nearly three quarters – 72% – of shoppers also want mobile coupons sent to their smartphones and the mobile coupon market has grown 100% in five years, Freedman reported.
“Shoppers want technology to enhance the shopping experience in convenience stores,” he stressed.