Why Grocers Should “Just Do It” When it Comes to Technology

Maybe you’re looking at the grocery industry and seeing what is happening with technology and you’re thinking, “We’ve been around forever and what we’ve done has always worked. We don’t need these new fangled technology gimmicks.”  Hmmm…well, let me tell you a story about sneakers that might change your mind.

There’s this sneaker company called Nike that was built decades ago–which meant their organization, by their own admission, was neither nimble nor quick.  They never built their company with technology in mind and they didn’t have any technology partnerships in place to collaborate with them. However, they noticed the market was changing and they had to keep up or they would become obsolete.

In 2009, Nike’s mandate was to grow their retail stores worldwide, which meant wrapping their heads around digital commerce strategies. Naturally, the brick-and-mortar experience was attracting foot traffic (no pun intended). Some new visitors turned into buyers, and some turned into longtime customers.

But what about people who might not just wander into their store or weren’t part of their loyal shoppers club or didn’t look at the direct mail they were sending?

How could they acquire more customers or re-activate ones that left over the years?

They took a giant leap and started offering eCommerce, pairing this data-driven method with a localized approach to their brick-and-mortar stores.  What they found was shoppers wanted both experiences available to them. The option to order online for convenience and the option of visiting the store to touch, see, and experience the full product. Therefore, not all products were offered online. Some of their most popular products were in-store only features. They charged extra for convenience and only offered certain discounts and sales in their retail locations.

As they traced personal shopping trends, they could better analyze what products were flying off the shelves and which needed to retiretranslation: faster moving inventory. They were providing a better customer experience with the goal of building and retaining a customer base that would want to stay with them through years of business, or even decades, like thousands have done. You might even be a loyal fans of the iconic swish.

Nike defied the odds of their generation and now stand as a world class brand-leader in technology and innovation. Imagine if Nike hadn’t stepped out of their own comfort zone and made a big move a decade ago. Would they still be a household name?  

It’s useful to focus on how your customers are changing the way they grocery shop. From the customer’s point of view, they want the total experience, both physical AND virtual. Grocery retailers need to deliver that experience, regardless of which channel the customer is using.

When and where you succeed often comes back to the culture of the organization and whether the leaders are willing to buy into the idea that technologywhether it’s full eCommerce or starting with digital circulars, email programs, and other smaller technology changesis an important part of the business’ future. Without solid commitment from top leadership, this kind of shift isn’t possible, because it requires getting people to let go of a traditional in-store-only focus. In fact, we’ve seen employees actually resist the move into eCommerce if their leadership isn’t fully committed.

You can learn a lot from Nike. Even if you never imagined building a company with technology, you CAN find a partner today that can help you turn your strategy around. It’s time to run into your futurewith or without a swish on your shoes.

Just do it!