Before the pandemic, grocery retail was one of the thriving sectors catering to the daily needs of consumers. Even during the pandemic, and at present, demand for groceries remains the same as they serve the basic needs of people, but grocery stores are facing numerous challenges with regards to operations. 

If you are in the grocery business and are facing a tough time, you are not alone. Your customers and their expectations have drastically changed. You are compelled to incorporate new practices into your daily business activities, and the cost may be rising. But, if you are to thrive and adapt to the “new normal,” you must understand the challenges that grocery retail sector faces at present and look for ways to overcome it. Only then you will be able to attract and retain a strong customer base and earn consistent revenue.

In this article, we are going to highlight key challenges faced by grocery retailers and how CX can help to overcome them successfully. 

Handling situations of panic buying 

One of the prominent customer behaviors that can be noticed at present is the trend of panic buying that fluctuates as the number of COVID-19 cases changes over time in the country. Grocery retailers experience a spike in demand when consumers stock up essentials anticipating a lockdown or to remain at home until the situation subsides. The challenge is to forecast such situations and manage them efficiently. 

You have to decide the most effective ways of rationing products by prioritizing customer experience whether it is by imposing a maximum quantity that can be purchased by a single customer or on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Managing queues and payment methods

The precautionary, safety-conscious customer at present expects every retail grocery stores to implement extreme hygienic measures while managing social distancing effectively at the same time. So, grocery stores have to ensure their retail space is disinfected frequently to avoid the possibility of the transmission of the virus to the best possible level. Employees also have to monitor if every customer is wearing a mask and following safety guidelines. 

One of the major challenges in this regard is to ensure customers maintain the required distance when standing in queues and are also provided with a safe mode of the payment system. Negligence on the part of the store management can mean losing a significant amount of customers. Think of how you can optimize the customer experience in this situation by favoring digitized payment systems over cash and implementing faster billing methods to avoid long queues. As customers feel more comfortable stepping into your stores, their loyalty will increase. 

Restricted capacity of customers inside the store

Due to social distancing measures in place at present, grocery retail stores are bound to restrict the number of customers they can accommodate inside stores at a single point of time. The challenge not only lies in the manner in which it can be implemented but also on how to do it without disappointing your loyal base of customers. Although many stores display the number of customers that are allowed to be inside at a given time, it can be an inconvenience to customers dropping by to pick up goods in a hurry, or for an emergency.

It’s important that grocery stores prioritize customer experience and implement alternative purchasing methods to enhance the buying experience. Integrating digitization to your brick-and-mortar space can be really helpful here. As an example, you can allow customers to select the goods online and pick up at the store through a separate counter. 

Adopting to altered customer behavior 

The grocery retail experienced their first decline as COVID-19 halted every type of commercial activity, compelling stores to shut their business activities. As the contagious virus instilled a great fear among the public to refrain from crowded places, a fraction of consumers still prefer to shop online even after stores have opened up.

As a grocery retail store, how are you going to tackle this situation? Are you going to do business with whoever decides to step into your store, or are you willing to embrace the “new normal” behavior as well? Every customer is valuable. So, you have to ensure every customer receives the desired experience. If you still don’t have a website to sell your groceries online, now is the time to do it. Think of how you can impress the customer who needs essentials delivered to their doorstep!

Listen also free recording of the webinar The Future of CX in the COVID-19 Era

How companies should move forward to the new normal, while keeping customers at the center of decision making?

In June 2020, CX Forum held a free webinar together with Richard Owen (CEO OCX Cognition and leader of the team that developed NPS) to find an answer to this topic. Listen the webinar and find out what they thought.

Get the webinar recording

Jaakko is an award-winning CX professional and entrepreneur at Feedbackly, founder and community professional at the biggest entrepreneurial digital community in Finland – Yrittäjä.io. He is a notorious keynote speaker from entrepreneurial stories to day to day human communications and customer experiences.

Tags:
customer customer behavior customer experience cx grocery retail