GMDC: Retailers need to re-think front-end to survive digital
The Global Market Development Center on Thursday published its latest next practice report, “Rethink Front-end: Innovation, Flexibility and Relevancy Elevate Performance,” to help retailers regain relevancy in destination-driven shopping trips lost to digital shopper diversion.
“Digital-savvy shoppers expect prime experiences – in quickness, convenience, solutions and communal feel,” Mark Mechelse, GMDC director of research, industry insights and communications, said. “Mobile is gaining traction year over year, faster than any industry, and will soon top $150 billion in transactions, representing one-third of e-com sales. And while disruption has been occurring at the retail level for many years, the intensity we’ve seen recently is unprecedented and shows no signs of slowing. Front-ends in brick and mortar are at a crucial point of reinvention since they punctuate the store’s devotion to serving customer journeys from start to finish.”
To combat that digital appeal, it’s about creating a front-end experience that serves as an engagement center with pop-up shops, food service, spa-like wellness centers, farmers’ markets, and a town square vibe, otherwise retailers may be missing an opportunity to meet the increasingly high expectations of those shoppers. They may also miss the opportunity to capitalize on new revenue streams.
While shoppers’ expectations throughout all retail channels have soared to new heights, the checkout remains relatively stagnant and is often cited as the most grueling part of the customer journey. Digital shoppers have evolved in how they want to shop and pay, buy on impulse, and connect to brands and stores of their choice. However, too many retailers have failed to contemporize their merchandising, payment processes and overall environment at the front-end.
These shortcomings have resulted in a nearly 10% decrease in front-end dollar sales from a decade ago, GMDC reported. According to Impulse Marketing Company’s Checkout Update, 2007 front-end sales were $6.1 billion, while sales shrank to $5.5 billion by 2016. Based on projected growth rates of typical categories represented in the front-end, a more than $2 billion gap is estimated if this area of the store had kept pace with total store sales trends.
In addition to a call-to-action to evolve with shoppers and end under-performance, the report challenges retailers to think broad, think local, think sightlines, think modular non-foods, think healthful and balanced, and think technology to future-proof their business.
In the report, Greg Parsons, senior director home and product development, Kroger, shared his vision and initiatives for front-end. “The innovation to figure out is for tech-savvy customers to pay differently from seniors who like seeing their favorite cashier every week,” he said. “It could mean a non-stop walkthrough with a smartphone, an associate with a tablet on the sales floor, or an exceptional experience for people who go online. People want choices to check out the way they want.”
Also in the report, Larry Wilson, vice president industry affairs, National Confectioners Association, describes the importance of understanding that customers’ need states may vary from moment to moment. “Retailers can be responsive to consumers and demonstrate responsibility by promoting ‘balance and choice’ with a wide range of traditional treats like chocolate, candy and snacks as well as other alternative instant consumable options to meet shopper’s changing need states,” he said. “It’s about putting yourself in position to win with your proven stars and then contemporizing assortments with the right blend of foods and non-foods.”
Cheez-It mashes together popcorn, pretzels in Duoz snacks
Cheez-It is taking its offering of products to the next level. The brand, which is part of the Kellogg’s portfolio, has created two brand new snacks that pair together some very unexpected flavors.
The Battle Creek, Mich.-based company has unveiled the new Duoz line, which delivers a mash-up of 100% real cheese flavors and textures that change with every bite the consumer takes.
“As food mash-ups become more popular, we’re excited to launch two Cheez-It Duoz varieties that pair our favorite cheesy, crunchy crackers with two salty snacks to create new satisfying snacking experiences for everyone,” Jeff Delonis, marketing director of Cheez-It, said. “Pairing our 100% real cheese Cheez-It crackers with caramel popcorn or cheddar pretzels creates two delicious snacks with flavors and textures that change with every bite.”
The Duoz caramel popcorn and Cheddar Cracker balances sweet and salty flavors, as caramel is paired with Cheez-It cheddar crackers. The second addition to the lineup, Cheez-It Duoz Cheddar Jack Cracker and sharp cheddar pretzel delivers double the cheese flavor with the crackers and sharp cheddar pretzels.
Both snacks are now available for purchase in retail locations nationwide. Further product information can be found on the brand’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.
New HRG e-book focuses on visual brand impact
Hamacher Resource Group on Wednesday published a new e-book, “Be Sure Your Images Make an Impact,” to help manufacturers, distributors and retailers recognize the importance of using high-quality images to promote their brand.
“This e-book helps clarify the type of image a client should consider based on the way it will be implemented,” Julie Massey, HRG visual assets manager, said. “It’s an easy-to-use guide of what to expect when a product is expertly captured and why that’s so important if you’re trying to make an impact in retail today.”
In today’s retail environment where consumers may come across a product or it’s likeness in any number of online or in-store venues, having superior product images consistently appear wherever the omnichannel shopper may happen upon them will positively influence brand integrity and sales.
While the responsibility for product images is on the CPG manufacturers, wholesale distributors and retailers need accurate, current and appealing images, too. Manufacturers want to portray their brand in its best light online and in a variety of media including marketing collateral, mailers, buyer presentations, and more. Distributors and retailers need top-quality images for promotional efforts, e-commerce sites, and signage. Additionally, distributors who incorporate images into their ordering systems can improve productivity and minimize errors leading to time and money savings.
HRG has been photographing products for the numerous uses represented in the e-book for decades. HRG’s Visual Assets team has almost five decades of experience in photography and imaging editing, and follows a refined process to ensure the best outcomes. The VA team recently delivered HRG’s entire image library with six panel views of each product to a national wholesaler client, ensuring that each picture met the requirements for the client’s e-commerce platform used by their customers.
“We take pride in providing our clients images that best represent the brand for whatever uses they have. Because of HRG’s 35+ years of experience in the retail industry, we understand and are familiar with the many places images are used and how to capture what is needed with the customer experience in mind,” Massey said. “We also enjoy those out-of-the-ordinary projects that allow us to stretch our creativity and build on our areas of expertise.”