Consumers have limitless options when they want to shop. To get the sale, retailers have to be at the right place with the right product the moment a consumer is ready to purchase. But it’s arduous to predict a shopper’s every move. Curtis Tingle, CMO at multichannel media solutions provider Valassis, spoke with eMarketer’s Tricia Carr about how retailers can be there for consumers when they’re ready to buy, and how retailers can compete with Amazon and Walmart without losing sight of their unique value proposition.
eMarketer: What outside factors are driving change within retail organizations?
Curtis Tingle: One of the shopping habits driving rapid transformation right now is convenience taking over the definition of value. Value has always meant a lot of different things—you had to have quality, availability of inventory and the right price. Now convenience is disrupting value in multiple ways.
One example is the battle for share of stomach. The convenience of prepared foods is completely disrupting grocery retail. There's an all-out war to capture traffic and spending for meal solutions.
eMarketer: Sticking with that example, how has consumers’ desire for convenience played out in the food industry?
Tingle: It's impacting QSRs [quick-service restaurants], fast-casual restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores—they’re all, to some extent, doing it to each other. There are healthy meal solutions available in all of those channels, and retailers are finding their true competitors in the marketplace.
For example, grocery stores now have sandwich stops, chicken shops, bakeries and coffee shops—those are four traditional QSR formats in the grocery store alone. Convenience stores and drugstores are also competing to bring healthy food alternatives and on-the-go meal solutions to the forefront of their stores.“Make sure you not only have the right experience for the customer, but also have the right motivators in place to disrupt the path to purchase.”
eMarketer: What’s the broader takeaway here?
Tingle: You have to get closer to your customers. You have to know how they shop. You have to know what their interests are, and how those evolve throughout the year and even the day. You have to connect with them when they're on the go, at home, at work and in the store. All of this helps you to better understand their behaviors.
Then make sure you not only have the right experience for the customer, but also have the right motivators in place to disrupt the path to purchase. How do you stimulate interest in your brand? How do you connect with consumers and activate them when they may not have been thinking about your brand?
eMarketer: Amazon and Walmart are at the front of the pack, and convenience is a huge driver for both of their businesses. What can other retailers emulate from these two giants to compete with them on convenience?