Time-sensitive supermarkets can captivate

Articles
December 22, 2009

Time-sensitive supermarkets can captivate

Store managers have always kept close tabs on the highs and lows of shopper visits the weeklong to have the right amount of checklanes open and store staff on hand. In a business where pennies matter, especially in the recession, a constant goal is no labor waste.

Store managers have always kept close tabs on the highs and lows of shopper visits the weeklong to have the right amount of checklanes open and store staff on hand. In a business where pennies matter, especially in the recession, a constant goal is no labor waste.

Yet this same sensitivity to peak demands and lulls can benefit stores in other ways – perhaps through smart merchandising and pricing incentives, or even special events, that stir excitement when shoppers want it most. 

We say, welcome to the world of time-sensitive supermarkets. In this world, supermarkets would bend with customers’ life patterns, and would become social hubs that also fill the information and comfort needs of shoppers. The stores would draw more people in as a result. 

Start small, like the banks in Florida that offer retirees free coffee so they visit regularly, feel comfortable doing so, and could be likelier to renew their CDs there as a result.  

Now consider the millions of capable men thrown out of work in this recession, whose wives work while they pick up the household duties. Between those responsibilities and job searches, many men shop at uncharacteristic times. When they do, many have a high learning curve about nutrition, savings, spotting deals at the shelf, using coupons, navigating the store most efficiently…the list goes on.

There’s great value, we believe, in adjusting the stores to their needs – staffing for the different hours they shop, hosting store tours that teach them how to get the most out of the store. If there’s space available, why not host evening networking sessions with a jobs expert? Look within your own markets for the specific opportunities that would resonate with your shoppers.

The payback could be huge, we believe. Some retailers may already be on this course, having seen the growth of telecommuters who work flexible schedules and entrepreneurs who squeeze in their shopping in between their business priorities. Now the time-shift trend is more pronounced, with practically everyone affected by this economy.

Indeed, new shopping patterns in convenience stores were detected recently by Sara Lee Foodservice. “The morning meal has been heavily impacted by job losses, seen in the decrease of commuters stopping for coffee and breakfast at their local convenience stores,” Catherine Porter, senior customer marketing manager for c-stores, told Convenience Store News. “That said, we have seen traffic increases during lunch, the afternoon commute and on the weekends – very non-traditional foodservice times for convenience stores.”

Therefore, the food manufacturer is urging convenience stores to re-evaluate planograms for the different day parts and week parts, CSN reported.

They’re onto something. SupermarketGuru.com says to take it even further – that both convenience stores and supermarkets could do better by shaping their offers and outreach to the new life patterns emerging in 2010 and beyond.