Lines to get into the store are a rare sight at any brick-and-mortar retailer these days, let alone a supermarket. That’s exactly what French supermarket chain Intermarche brought upon itself this week, however. The chain slashed prices on popular chocolate hazelnut spread Nutella and suffered Black Friday-like crowds and chaos as customers fought to stock up.
Nutella normally sells for €4.70 ($5.85 USD) at Intermarche supermarkets. The chain dropped prices to €1.41 ($1.75) for the week, prompting a mad rush of shoppers that, in some cases, ended in violence and police intervention. Other stores saw no such violence but sold out long before the promotion ended.
Grocers, take note. Clearly, deep discounts on popular products are one surefire way to get customers through the doors — though preferably once those doors are open, and not through the closed glass, as has happened on more than one Black Friday.
Success stories of drawing substantial foot traffic are few and far between for grocers these days. Here are a few stand-out strategies that are keeping the traffic flowing, at least consistently if not quite as dramatically as Nutella discounts.
Lucky Lucky’s Shoppers
We won’t beat around the bush: Grocery shopping is lame. Why else would so many customers be turning to delivery services like Instacart, or opting to click and collect rather than trawling the aisles themselves? Buying groceries is every bit as fun as the phrase “chores and errands” sounds.
Luckily for Lucky’s shoppers, they can grab a drink at the in-store bar to take the edge off the misery. Customers can start their visit with a beer or glass of wine before subjecting themselves to the stress of the shopping list. Carts are even equipped with cup holders specifically designed for pint glasses, so there’s no need to chug that beer. Instead, they get to simply sip and shop.
Multitasking — now that’s efficiency!
Who doesn’t love free food? Scheduling free tastings can serve a few purposes for grocery stores. Few can resist the allure of trying something new for free, especially if they know ahead of time that those free snacks will be available and can plan their shopping trip around them — or even make a separate trip just to enjoy the tasting.
Whether it’s an all-new product or simply a new suggestion for how to pair or cook with an old favorite, tastings create a sense of fun and encourage customers to branch out from their normal shopping routines. Shoppers can’t get that at curbside pickup.
Another benefit of in-store tastings is that they can add elements of surprise and delight even for customers who didn’t know about the event ahead of time, and can encourage those shoppers to try and maybe buy something outside of their normal shopping lists, as well.
Mark The Calendar
Tastings aren’t the only events that can entice customers through the door when it isn’t “grocery day.” Instead of an exclusively retail-focused space, consider how the grocery store could be leveraged to educate shoppers about what they are buying (or could be buying).
In-store demos can teach shoppers how to prepare unfamiliar dishes, and if they like what they see, adding all the ingredients in the recipe to their shopping list could be done with a single swipe within the store’s mobile app.
Inviting nutrition experts into the store can be another draw. Shopping for healthy food can be difficult, either due to the environment — say, in an urban setting — or simply due to customer unfamiliarity with what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle. In both cases, having an expert right there to guide them can serve the twofold purpose of lowering that barrier and encouraging new or additional purchases in categories customers have not previously explored.
Finally, today’s consumers love to know where and how their food was grown and produced. Why not take them on a virtual reality (VR) tour of a Mexican market or Italian butcher shop? The customer could even make selections in the VR marketplace and have those products added to their real-life carts.
It’s A Snap
That’s more or less what French supermarket chain U did, except with Snapchat Stories. The chain uses Stories to share the product journey of its freshly-sourced seafood from fisherman to sales manager to fishmonger. Each step is documented using Snapchat Spectacles.
At the U store, origin labels at the fish counter display Snap codes that redirect to these Stories. Since Snapchat content disappears after 24 hours, any label that leads to a story indicates that the product arrived within the day.
Make Friends With The Local Competition
One of the supermarket’s prime competitors today is the local farmers market. Customers care about where and how their food was grown, and they feel good about supporting the local economy. They may even be friends with the farmer behind the product.
If grocery stores can make deals with these local producers, it gives consumers who are dedicated to fresh, organic and local products a reason to do their shopping at the store — and once they’re in, they’re sure to find other products of interest, as well.
Why Stop At Food?
Many supermarkets also sell books, office supplies, holiday and seasonal products, and even clothing. It's not just cheap cotton t-shirts or mass-produced ugly Christmas sweaters, either. Former supermodel Heidi Klum is bringing her designer fashion line to Lidl, and she’s far from the first to fashion where she foods.
Kroger also announced that it will be launching an apparel brand in Fall 2018. Described as “modern,” “playful” and “simple,” the line will be available in sizes for children, young men, juniors, men and women. There will also be a focus on activewear.
It’s not a far cry from big box retailers such as Target, Walmart and Costco adding grocery departments to their retail footprints. Either way, these merchants are diversifying to give consumers one more reason not to shop somewhere (or anywhere) else.