How Grocers Can Stay Competitive in 2022

Posted in Innovation Written by Chris Schotsman

During the peak of the pandemic, most businesses had to shutter their doors… but not grocery stores. As an essential service (people still had to eat, right?), they remained open and saw demand for products soar while dealing simultaneously with supply chain issues.

Customers understood the reason for the empty shelves, and since there was no alternative they put up with the inconvenience as best they could.

But things have changed. Restaurants and fast food chains are looking to take back the customers they lost during the pandemic — and grocers are determined to stop that from happening.

Supply chain issues are still a problem

Even though supply chain issues still persist, it’s imperative that grocers do what they can to “normalize” the shopping experience. Customers are weary of empty shelves and will go elsewhere if your store’s offerings look sad and picked over.

While you can’t do anything about shortages, you can creatively display the goods you do have. By incorporating our flexible Fresh Go bins, using cases with a small frame depth or displaying your products on nesting tables (removing or stacking them as needed) you can still make your store look full and inviting, even when you’re not fully stocked. We also have plenty of self-contained refrigerated options to keep produce at critical temperatures.

You may also want to consider reducing the number of choices consumers have… do you really need to stock multiple brands of ketchup?


Customers are becoming better shoppers

During the pandemic people had to become more mindful of how they shopped. With long lines at the grocery stores (often in inclement weather) people had to plan their shopping trips better, taking fewer trips to the supermarket but increasing their basket size.

And they only went to one store… so they had to make sure the store they chose had everything they needed.

So what do customers want? Here are my thoughts on the subject…

Customers in general gravitate toward stores that have:

  • Wider aisles and that are less crowded. Having flexible display options lets you keep your store’s footprint lean while showcasing sale items and other offerings.

  • A higher level of cleanliness. It’s much nicer to shop in a store that is bright and clean. Our displays, for example, have easily removable base deck panels for easy cleaning and service and customizable LED lighting.

  • Good quality store brands. As food inflation hits double digits (11.4% at the time of this writing) customers are looking for alternatives to their usual brands, with some trying store brands for the very first time. This is a great opportunity for your store to shine!

Freson Bros’ Rabbit Hill location in Alberta is a great example of this. In addition to other innovations (like an actual sit-down restaurant right in the store) they have their own roof-top beehives — we designed and created a special display to highlight their honey and increase in-store sales (check out their case study for more details).

  • A variety of healthy, restaurant-quality, chef inspired, meal kits. This is especially important when dealing with competition from restaurants and fast-food outlets. Adding a variety of fresh, ready-made meals and meal kits make it convenient for customers to pick up dinner while getting the weekly shopping done. Just make sure the meals are delicious, nutritious and offer great value. Even hybrid meals — like pre-marinated meats — give customers a helping hand when trying to pull together a healthy, tasty home cooked meal in a timely manner. At Cayuga Displays, we have a variety of displays available to showcase your home meal replacements (HMR), with both self-serve and full-service options.

  • Fresh, locally-sourced products. A fragile supply chain, concerns about health and the environment, plus the desire to help famers and artisans in the community have resulted in a greater appreciation for food and other products raised or produced locally. Franks Finds is a good example of local focus. They take food produced locally and highlight it using on-floor displays. Proper signage and photos are used to showcase the product’s journey.

  • On-line, delivery and curb-side pickup. Shoppers got used to these convenient options during the pandemic, and will still look for these options when choosing a grocery store.

  • More transparency. People want to know where their food is coming from and how it’s prepared. When offering HMR it’s a good idea to have an open kitchen. Whether self-serve or full-service, an open prep area can be included behind your display cases.

Infarm — an exciting innovation for local produce

There are a lot of threats to the global food supply, such as:

  • The war in Ukraine is threatening the supply of wheat and other products.
  • Climate change is affecting certain crops in California, like almonds (which need copious amounts of water to grow) and avocados.
  • Droughts, fires and floods in California create shortages and high prices.
  • Supply chain issues, including a shortage of labour and other factors.

All of this increases the need to look for other means to produce the food we need. But what if you’re in an urban environment? Can you still grow fresh produce?

Infarm says “yes!”

They’ve created a model that grows crops vertically, requiring 95% less land and using 95% less water — all without chemicals and pesticides.

Their produce can be grown locally inside urban grow centers, and in some cases directly in-store. Infarm is definitely something to keep on your radar!


Supermarkets cater to people

Even though restaurants are now open, a lot of people have discovered the joy of cooking their own meals at home, either from scratch or with the help of store made meals. It’s certainly a more cost-effective solution to mealtimes than going to a restaurant!

The reason people go to the grocery store or other physical stores is for the experience itself… so give them what they’re looking for and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.

If you’d like to add some flexible displays to your store, or you’re looking for a unique, custom solution to differentiate yourself from the competition, book a consultation with us. We’re always happy to help.

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