How Can Grocery Retailers Do More with Less? Here's the Secret Ingredient

May 11, 2018

retail operations | Grocery Retail | In-store conversion optimization

This article was originally posted in May 2018, and was updated in July 2019. 

If you've ever lived in a big city and picked up dinner from a supermarket after a long day of work, you've experienced the new reality of grocery retail. 

It usually goes something like this. 

You step inside your local supermarket, take one look at the long, unmoving line and think, I can't handle this right now. Then you walk straight into the supermarket across the street where the line is still long, but at least all the self-checkouts are open and the floors are clean. 

Competition is fierce. Shopper expectations are high. And it's put retailers in a squeeze.

They're now facing two competing realities.

The first is that convenience, aesthetic appeal, freshness and the feel of a friendly local shop are all equally important to shoppers. And all this needs to happen with the same affordable prices we've come to expect. 

The second is that re-structuring, layoffs and general chaos in the industry have slashed the number of store personnel. 

An estimated 4.8 million Americans work in grocery retail, but the growing popularity of online food shopping is putting those jobs at risk. FMI estimates that by 2022, US consumers could be spending $100 billion a year on online groceries. 

The pressure is on.

Fewer personnel means fewer resources to make the experiences consumers want a reality. So how can grocery retailers do more with less? 

By making store operations so efficient that staff can be good at everything and have more time to facilitate a smooth customer journey through the store. 

Store teams have to become generalists

Departmentalized roles are quickly becoming extinct. 

Fewer employees means that each one of them can actually make a massive difference. "It's not my job" or " I don't know how to do that" are no longer excuses store staff can use when the overall experience slips. 

Customers don't care that the store is short-staffed or that's it's peak time.

They want visual confirmation that the store team is facilitating the smooth running of the customer journey while getting help from a friendly, knowledgeable employee if they need it. 

To create these positive experiences for shoppers, store teams need more time. 

And that means store teams need clear, concise instructions from HQ

Because there's no time to lose! Every minute store teams spend trying to figure out what the instructions are really saying about how to put that display together is a minute spent not helping customers. 

Everyone knows that when the number of available self-checkouts is low, the number of stressed-out shoppers in the queue is proportionately higher.

And an employee restocking the shelves when this should have been done 2 hours ago is one less person helping shoppers get those unidentified items out of the bagging area.

Which means longer wait times and even more shoppers considering abandoning their armful of items and making a break for freedom. 

This is how customers join the ranks of competitors. It happens in a split second. 

To thrive when other retailers are feeling the squeeze, a team of engaged, knowledgeable staff will prevent situations like those above from happening.

To empower store staff to be good at anything that's thrown their way, they'll need a constant flow of information they can access on the go. 

If store teams are spending more time helping shoppers, they'll need to get operational and display tasks done faster. They'll need clearer instructions that eliminate confusion.  

The best way to do that is equipping employees with technology that drives their productivity. 42% of retailers are already actively investing in this area, and pretty soon it will be the norm. 

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Store teams at Aldi UK and Casino Group use YOOBIC to save time on operational and display tasks, so they can spend more time helping customers. If you're ready to #RetailSmarter with us, request a demo below! 

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