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It's time to look around at new competitors

It's time to look around at new competitors

Many supermarket operators that I talk with are focused on looking at what their competitors are doing, which is a great way to learn and improve. The problem is who they are looking at. A supermarket’s competition these days includes just about everyone — not just other supermarkets.

It is not about market share; it is about share of stomach.

Uber, Amazon and Blue Apron are all stealing business from your store. Supermarkets around the nation are putting in “grocerants,” offering pick up and delivery services, developing new smaller format stores, curating products for their shoppers and trying everything they can to desperately stay relevant and in the game.

The Millennials (and soon Gen Z) have changed the way supermarkets are utilized, and have forced the blurring of channels into specific categories of foods and beverages. They don’t shop as their parents did, grew up in a world of mobile devices and 24/7 shopping, and see no difference between brick-and-mortar and online stores.

Food is hot. Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs are getting in the game. Everyone from Steve Case to Kimbal Musk are putting their money into the next generation of products that are healthier, distribution channels that are more efficient, and restaurants without waiters. Musk was quoted on CNNMoney as saying “I think food right now, it feels like 1995 in the Internet days. The amount of innovation and excitement and enthusiasm is unbridled.” Certainly this is a new wave of competition that our industry has never experienced before, and at a time when the traditional supermarket is under more pressure.

So how can supermarkets compete in this new omnichannel universe? Build a relationship with your shoppers. A Loyalty One consumer survey conducted earlier this year found that almost 50% of shoppers reported a problem on their last shopping trip, and four out of five of them said nothing to the retailer and just left the store. Consumers have become retailer agnostic, and with the amount of choices shoppers have, it is critical for our supermarkets to become a “one-stop eco-system” offering products, reviews, in-store and online ordering, and delivery. The most important thing, however, is to offer an experience that is personal, fulfilling and builds a relationship that transcends price, location and achieves a larger share of your customers’ stomach no matter what the meal occasion or where it is consumed.

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