Savvy shopping tactics

My name is Rob and I am a shameless shopper….

… there, I’ve said it.  I am unashamed to say I will split a big shop into two smaller £40 shops to take advantage of a loyalty programme.  I make use of multiple online grocery accounts to utilise free delivery coupons.  On an ongoing basis, I plan our family meals for the week, then I use a price comparison site to compare the price of high ticket items before deciding where to shop.  I am not on my own however, and if you do not employ at least one of these tactics, you are in the minority.

This is not shameless shopping, this is savvy shopping and this is the landscape within which we operate.

The savviest tactic of them all, and the one that has caused the most seismic shift in the UK grocery landscape, is the rise of multichannel shopping.  Shoppers shopping across multiple channels to better meet their food & grocery shopping needs.

Multichannel shopping is primarily driven by the desire to save money; paying reduced prices for goods and making money go further by reducing waste.  This has driven more frequent, smaller basket missions, and has seen the power shift into the hands of the shopper, as they pick and choose where to shop to best meet their needs.

Take me for example.  I shop online to bulk buy cupboard staples.  I top up throughout the week as required across the supermarket, hypermarket and convenience channels (depending on which one best fits into my plans that day).  I visit a food discounter each week to bulk buy soft drinks, and I visit a high street discounter for toiletries and household products.  This is typical multichannel shopping behaviour.

The retailers I visit also cover a diverse spread.  A recent addition to my repertoire of retailers has been Waitrose.  Thanks largely to the influence of his grandparents, my 2 and half year old son has taken a shining to Waitrose apple and elderflower sparkling water.  Sadly, I kid you not.  Having been bought up myself on Rola Cola and Council Pop (that’s tap water, to anyone who hasn’t heard that expression), it pains me to say one of my most common shopping trips is to head to Lidl to buy soft drinks for myself before heading across the road to Waitrose for the “sparkly juice” my son is currently favouring.  Although the driver may be unusual the practice is not, with many people now shopping at both food discounters and the high end supermarkets.

So what drives shoppers between channels, and as such fuels this multichannel landscape?

The key driver for mutichannel shopping is to save money, however the convenience multichannel shopping brings should not be underestimated.  Shopping across multiple channels may take up a larger amount of time than one large weekly shop, but the key for shoppers is how this time is used.

Thanks to retailer expansion, shoppers are now better able to visit stores in a location and at a time convenient to them.  Visiting a town centre store during the working day, an out of town store on the way home from work, even conducting a top-up mission at the petrol station.  This may appear time poor, but it is time convenient for the shopper.

Each channel has strengths to pull shoppers in, and weaknesses that encourage shoppers to look elsewhere.  Supermarkets have tried to find a solution that best meets the needs of all, while discounters, convenience stores and online have grown by better meeting one or two distinct needs.

So what does that mean for us? Well, firstly, until George Osborne, Ed Balls or Russell Brand find a solution, the majority of the British public are still some way off seeing a rise in their disposable income.  Therefore we can expect shopper focus to remain on price, meaning we need to ensure the value of our products is communicated above the line and in-store.

Secondly, some of the tactics learnt during the recession will remain as good practice.  Multichannel is here to stay, so we need to ensure we have dedicated strategies in place to meet the distinct needs of shoppers in each channel.

Finally, savvy tactics cost shoppers’ time and energy.  As prosperity improves we can expect shoppers to place more emphasis on higher quality products and the experiences they have within the stores they visit.  Therefore, to achieve growth, we need to understand in-store behaviour and the drivers behind it.  We must then adapt our offer to ensure the drivers are met in-line with the behaviours we have seen.

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