Competing in Convenience

Competing in Convenience

Naomi Sleeper
Director,  Productivity Improvement
Imperial Distributors


In today’s fast-paced digital age, instant gratification and convenience reign. Consumers now expect to do more in less time. As “the ultimate currency,” according to Nielsen, convenience drives consumers’ daily purchasing decisions. Consequently, consumers’ grocery shopping patterns are changing. Taking these new buying habits into consideration can result in big successes in non-foods sales for supermarkets.

The long supermarket outings that I recall from my childhood do not represent today’s grocery shopping experience for many consumers. Rather than stock-up grocery shopping trips, consumers are tending toward smaller, more frequent need-driven trips to the grocery store. In fact, Nielsen reports that 10% of shoppers buy groceries only for same-day meals. As the solution to meeting this immediate off-line grocery-shopping need, supermarket retail stores have a big opportunity. More frequent trips to the grocery store means more purchase occurrences and therefore more opportunities to capture sales, particularly from quick impulse purchases.

Retail stores can follow a few key tips to make the most of impulse purchase opportunities to ensure success in non-food sales.

  1. Cross-merchandise. For consumers purchasing for that evening’s meal, kitchen tools and gadgets that facilitate meal preparation, enhancing speed or ease, appeal to consumers’ focus on convenience. These items also appeal to the “foodie lifestyle,” according to GMDC report. Physically aligning these kitchen items next to related foods can translate to easy impulse buys.
  2. Stay on-trend. For general merchandise and health, beauty and wellness products, on-trend products are conducive to impulse purchases during frequent, short trips to the grocery store.
  3. Promote. Temporary price reductions not only attract shoppers but also drive impulse purchases, particularly for the frequent shopper who is used to seeing these products at a higher price.

While supermarkets seize in-store opportunities offered by convenience-driven grocery shopping habits, online and omnichannel offerings can provide additional convenience to consumers. The trend toward more frequent grocery shopping trips points to growth in smaller urban (conveniently-located) grocery stores. Smaller footprints can translate to smaller in-store assortments. Despite this constraint, supermarkets can satisfy customers’ needs of broad product selection through “endless aisle” programs that offer expanded product offerings online. Paired with consumer delivery, endless aisle provides additional convenience to customers beyond expedient in-store shopping experiences.

Through on-trend relevant impulse purchase opportunities in-store, along with “endless” product opportunities online, supermarkets can remain competitive in today’s consumer convenience market.