Staying ahead in grocery retail

A little more than a year ago, I asked a question of the retail grocery industry. I asked what they were doing to make it easier for people to do business with them?

Today, I want to take a look at how some of the bigger retail grocery providers are working to stand out on top, both in stores and online.

The retail world at large continues to move at breakneck speed. That means we have so many things going on in that sector that it’s hard to track the changes! These changes affect the customer, the retailer’s internal operations, and even their competition.

What the big 3 are doing

Earlier this month, Amazon rolled out their new Prime next day delivery and the very next day, Walmart announced that they would be rolling out a similar plan which would be available in 75 percent of their stores by the end of 2019.

Walmart already has a robust online business with customers able to get same-day pickup with its grocery pickup program that is being offered in a growing number of stores. The retailer has other same-day and ship-to-store options that makes it easy to purchase from them for both groceries and household items. This means Walmart has the leg up on all other retailers in this division for its brick and mortar stores.

Did you know, however, that Target also has a grocery section in many of its stores? Target had a great first quarter and seems on track for a great end to second quarter. One thing that I think Target has been incredibly smart about it, it’s stayed out of the fracas between Walmart and Amazon. While you can order clothes and other items from Target online, the retailer has not tried to compete in the e-commerce arena, and I think that’s smart.

Instead, they’ve continued to make quality customer service in their stores their primary focus and draw. If their numbers are any indication, their customers agree with their approach. I think that while most loyal customers of Target know they offer groceries, Target still is not a destination for regular grocery shopping.

Target’s strength is bringing in semi-upscale brands and products that you can’t find in the other stores. Even their store brands are a little higher class and appeal to their loyal customer base. Another great thing that Target is doing is wooing the millennial generation, which I pointed out more than a year ago was going to be a vital move.

The future of retail grocery

I think that the future of retail grocery lies not only in current leadership, but in the future leaders coming up. There is a book that I think should be required reading for all leaders and future leaders in the retail grocery industry. In his book Winning in a Hostile Environment, Dr. Steve Caldwell provides the most common sense “how to” for leadership. Reading this book would clarify each person’s leadership role clearly and that would positively affect their businesses.

All-in-all, I think grocery retail is a segment that is still active and growing. It deals with a commodity—food—that we as a society will always need in some form. The challenge will always be, what can grocery retailers do to stand out on top.

In all this competition and state of constant change, I think the customer will always be the one that comes out on top. They are the ones receiving the benefits of all these CPG companies competing against each other and there is no reason to believe that will not continue for a long time.