How Supermarkets Can Build an Omnichannel Edge

June 05, 2015

By enriching omnichannel initiatives with the right content, supermarkets can differentiate as go-to resources and win trips.

For food retailers, omnichannel begins with capital A.

As in Amazon - the “A reason” supermarkets need urgency in their efforts to upgrade omnichannel to connect with customers in the digital and in-store ways they prefer.   If not, Amazon, which already closes the deal with shoppers so skillfully, will encroach further on supermarket share via private label, Prime, Fresh and other food initiatives. Read more about Amazon in next week’s issue of Facts, Figures & The Future (F3).

For this reason, and the growing omnichannel skills of Target, Walmart and other competitors, it is truer than ever that supermarkets need to persuade shoppers during key moments on their path to purchase to secure trips. The earlier contact, engagement and influence begin, the better.  Also, the richer the educational content from supermarkets, the more differentiated they’ll become as go-to resources, says F3

That’s why, to us, supermarkets should use omnichannel content to burnish their image as innovative experts in the post-purchase use, enjoyment and safety of foods and beverages.  This differs from focusing on pre-purchase points such as ingredients, nutrition, pricing and sourcing – which are also important, but not distinguishable from what any retailer (including Amazon) can do. 

Food stores that do this could improve both the buying experience and the post-purchase experience – a leap ahead from where most supermarkets are today in their omnichannel skills set. 

Retailers seeking to scale gains faster via omnichannel can utilize a custom content service newly launched by The Consumer Insight Inc. Network, the parent of F3. For more information, contact Phil Lempert at

Consumer search for food and beverage is unlike search for categories people buy once every few years (CE, furniture, appliances) or require fit or color matches (apparel, home décor).  For hard goods, people largely search to help avoid inappropriate purchases.  By contrast, food and beverage buys are often routine, quick and automatic; access is high, service isn’t often required, shoppers are pretty familiar with products, and the risk of an error is typically a few dollars, not hundreds or thousands. 

It is this relative ease of purchase decision-making that makes omnichannel a vital area to win via content.  So many studies about omnichannel address functional aspects of searching and shopping – patterns of device and social media use, information and service access, and ordering, delivery, pickup and payment options.  Yet little is said about how robust content strategies via omnichannel could shift shoppers to favor one retailer over another.  This is whereF3 urges supermarkets to excel to win both in-store and virtual trips.

Indeed, a new comScore study, U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2015, says smartphones penetrated 75% of the U.S. mobile user base by the end of 2014.  Yet while mobile commerce jumped 28% to $31.6 billion (twice the pace of total U.S. retail digital commerce growth, which rose 14% to $268.5 billion), there is a “monetization gap.  Mobile now accounts for 60% of digital retail engagement as measured by time spent, but only 13% of dollars.  As friction gets removed from the mobile purchase process, gains in sales can be expected to accelerate.”

The digital influence on retail sales is even greater.  “Digital influenced $1.7 trillion of in-store sales last year compared to just $0.33 trillion only a couple of years ago. Mobile influence on in-store sales jumped to nearly $1.0 trillion from just $0.16 trillion in 2012,” states Deloitte’sNavigating the New Digital Divide.  In food and beverage categories, 31% of consumers are influenced by digital and 17% by mobile – and 21% use social media during their shopping journey for these items, the report says.