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Shopper Trends|May 19, 2022

How to Make Shopping an Experience – Category By Category

Yes, we live in an omni-shopping world, but the store is still part of it. In November 2021 we reported that two-thirds of shoppers went into the store to shop after picking up their online orders; 78% chose to go to the store when they felt energized and upbeat, and half said it was easier to run to the store when time was tight or they had a big trip. But shoppers also made it clear that the store they shop today is not what they want it to be.

Are Your Stores Meeting the Requirements of Retail 5.0?

Retail shopping experience trends keep changing, and the traditional store format is not keeping pace. In February, we circled back to our November 2021 findings to understand what shoppers want in a brick store today. We learned that the elements that build retail loyalty are rooted in analytics, personalization and emotional relevance. These are also the factors that define Retail 5.0 – the use of data insights to create environments that put the shopper at the center of the retail universe.

Yet today’s store still requires walking aisles, searching shelves and waiting in line, a process that has not changed in nearly 75 years. Based on what shoppers told us and how they rank the stores they shop across dozens of factors, the store needs to change, now.

Improve the Store Experience, One Category at a Time

A good shopping experience begins at the category level. The vibrancy of produce, the intrigue of grab-and-go meals, the enticing smells of the bakery – which are all now the norm – are examples of how categories can trigger emotions and reinvent the shopping experience. Retailers and brands now need to work together on making center-aisle categories emotional destinations.

“My favorite store to shop is Trader Joe's. It’s like a treasure hunt; they always have something new and interesting. The crew is friendly and helpful, and the products are curated to avoid artificial dyes, GMOs, etc.” – Rebecca G., 41, Pacific Northwest

WSL launched the Retail Performance Index, a measure that establishes what is important to shoppers in the store overall, category by category. Such as: How do shoppers like to choose brands and discover new items in a category? The results: Today, national retail chains rate below the baseline of what’s important to shoppers. Only specialty stores and warehouse clubs score higher.

Know Your Stores’ Role in Retail 5.0

“I shop at Walmart for the selection and prices but prefer Target for the overall shopping experience.” – Audrey K., 53, Staten Island

The Retail Performance Index measures performance by category because we know that what is important to a shopper, and the future of the retail shopping experience, varies by category. With this in mind, we break down the retail opportunities into three buckets:

The Brand Opportunity

Brands can (and should) guide retailers on how to sell their categories in ways that align with how shoppers want to buy those categories. Doing this will change the definition of category management.

The Store Opportunity

The goal of the store should be to make shoppers feel better leaving than when they arrived. The Role of the Store in Retail 5.0 defines what is important to shoppers in a brick store: An easy trip, low prices balanced by convenience, feel-good selections, human-ness, discovery and showcasing shopper truths.

The Digital Opportunity

The brick store also requires digital components, such as digital coupons, sales alerts and QR codes with personally relevant messaging. These elements are especially important to shoppers under 40.

What’s Measured Can be Managed

Every one of these action steps can be measured to gauge how a retailer delivers what’s important to shoppers, overall and category by category, through the WSL Retail Performance Index.

These measures will answer the question of whether your store is 5.0 ready and – more importantly – poised for Retail 6.0.

Subscribers of WSL Strategic Retail can access our latest How America Shops® report, “The Role of the Store in Retail 5.0,” here. If you are not a subscriber but would like to learn about becoming one, contact us here.

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