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A Call For Retail Reinvention

The biggest question on everyone’s lips at FMI 2010 is where the consumer is headed.

A number of consumer trends workshops dealt squarely with that topic. One of the best was a presentation by Wendy Liebmann, founder, CEO and chief shopper, WSL Strategic Retail.

Her point was that retailers need to reinvent the grocery store in the wake of the economic downturn, and in many ways that means starting from scratch.

“Our role now is reinvention,” she said. “We need to restate the worth of this place. There are so many places to buy groceries. Why are you worth it?”

Among the solutions is “to be the health and wellness store,” she said. Other routes include making the shopping experience easier and romancing the brand.

Liebmann said there are certain factors retailers need to take into account in planning their futures

Shoppers have become a lot smarter over the past 10 years, a period that included recession, fears of terrorism, war and other challenges, she said. The shopper has learned how to stretch dollars and get the lowest price. “We have to sell to her, and resell to her all the way to the checkout,” Liebmann said.

Demographics, such as age or income, matter less now. More important are shopper types or personalities, she said.

Meanwhile, the Internet has finally come into its own as a robust shopping outlet. “It’s the only channel that has substantially increased in activity since 2008,” she said. Liebmann cited reasons including free shipping, trust, product selection, deals and coupons.

Liebmann urged retailers to ask themselves hard questions and make strides in reinventing their operations.

“Don’t assume supermarkets are in good shape in this new retail world,” she said. “Food and grocery are not immune.”