Tuesday, June 25, 2024

It’s time for the grocery industry to seize the moment

Global grocery retailing is undergoing a period of momentous change, according to IGD Chief Executive Joanne Denney-Finch, giving the industry an unprecedented opportunity to deliver an inspirational, exciting future for shoppers.

Speaking to delegates at the Asia-Pacific Retailers Convention & Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ms Denney-Finch said there’s a revolution underway in food retail in terms what products are sold, how they are sold, and how they are made.

“It’s driven by technology, social and culture change and the economy, all marching together,” she said. “The action centres on three big battles: food to go versus cook at home; online versus physical shopping; and big versus small stores.

“Everywhere we look, the market is reshaping, with the three As – ALDI, Amazon and Alibaba – particularly powerful forces of change.”

According to Ms Denney-Finch, big stores will still be important in the future, but they’ll look very different and be more “inspirational”, featuring more fresh food, new products and more ways to taste, learn and discover.

“Retailers will be working extra hard to differentiate,” she said. “They’ll make a big thing of their values and personality, and they’ll have stronger links with their local communities, giving space for local initiatives and small companies.

“Tomorrow’s retailers will also compete fiercely over health, with strict nutritional standards for every product they sell. And they’ll be super strict over provenance and ethics.”

Ms Denney-Finch outlined examples of highly innovative retailing from around the world during her presentation, including many from Asia-Pacific, gathered through IGD’s extensive analysis of global retail trends:

  • AEON in Japan is planning to set up more than 100 stores tailored to the needs of elderly shoppers. These will emphasise health, for example by giving reward points for customers if they complete a target number of steps in store.
  • Robinsons in the Philippines displays many of its products in health-related groups, such as weight control or a healthy heart. It uses green tags to showcase products approved by the government’s ‘nutrition unit’ [department] and gives discounts for these, plus advice on nutrition through its help desks.
  • A retailer called Ben’s Independent Grocers in Kuala Lumpur has an oyster bar offering a choice of oysters from several countries including England, Ireland, France and Australia.
  • In Hong Kong, the department store Yata hosted a Hello Kitty pop-up supermarket for a limited period, with 250 Hello Kitty-themed products including sushi, soy sauce, pasta and apples.

To win through this revolution, companies must learn to deal with lots of short-term pressures while building for a different future. Ms Denney-Finch outlined five principles to help companies through the changes ahead:

  • Stay completely focused on your customers and keep adapting to their changing needs.
  • Pay more attention than ever to technology.
  • Get help from your suppliers.
  • Do the ordinary extraordinarily well – and consistently.
  • Success will hinge on the quality of your people.

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