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NGA: How to compete with online retailers

NGA-Show Steve Bishop

SAN DIEGO – Independent retailers can fight against the competition of online grocery by being more of what they already are online and in stores.

In a workshop on Feb. 24, the first day of the National Grocers Association annual convention, Steve Bishop, managing partner of Brick Meets Click consultancy, said independent grocers already have the loyalty of most shoppers in their community.

“Your shoppers want to shop with you online,” he said.

Online retailers such as Amazon, Peapod and Blue Apron, have shaken up the retail business, but local grocers need to offer everything they have, however shoppers want to buy groceries, he said.

Bishop gave a handful of specific things independents can implement, some of which online grocers have trouble delivering:

-Perishables. Online grocers have had trouble delivering high quality fresh meats and produce, and this is a category in which local grocers can excel.

-Increase your share of mind. “Have digital connectors,” Bishop said, meaning have a good website, send emails and texts to consumers, and be active on social media.

-Differentiate your in-store experience. Play up local products and make your store a destination for shoppers, such as local produce.

-Customer service. Make sure you have associates who know how your online shopping tools work, so they can show shoppers when asked.

-Improve seamless shopping. Make it easy for consumers to use your online tools and have it translate easily to the in-store experience, such as showing what aisle they can find items.

-Solve different needs for the same shopper. Sometimes a consumer wants to build a recipe or prepare for a party or just shop within his or her budget. Be able to offer all these things easily online and in-store.

Bishop said one thing to keep in mind is how to keep online shopping tools that build loyalty and can scale toward profits, which will keep independent grocers sustainable.



Greg Johnson is the Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services.