Keeping in step with a rapidly changing marketplace will be key for retaining shoppers, according to major retail executives.
In remarks at the National Retail Federation’s NRF 2023 Retail’s Big Show event in New York, John Furner, president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., indicated that many operators already have successfully withered a host of major obstacles and need to keep that momentum going.
“This past year was an historically challenging time,” he said. “We did receive some relief from the pandemic, but we also saw extreme challenges with global supply chains. And that collided with surging demand, a shift in sectors from goods to services, inflation levels that we haven’t seen for decades, and the start of a war.”
Furner added, however that “We got customers what they wanted and what they needed amongst all of those macro challenges.”
Nevertheless, he said that retailers must continue to innovate and quickly address consumers’ changing needs. “If you are not offering the best customer experience, your customers will just move on to someone else who is. And with the pace of change we are seeing across the industry; it is more important than ever that we keep changing.”
Kroger Co. Chief Executive Officer Rodney McMullen said at the event that such change is occurring every day amongst supermarket shoppers.
“When I started working in this business the customer would do their weekly shopping at one time for the whole week,” he said. “They had a shopping list and that was it. It was usually on a Friday, sometimes it was on a Saturday morning. Sunday was not the busiest day of the week like it is today.”
Now shoppers are seeking a seamless experience, McMullen said, noting that Kroger is working to do everything it can to make shopping easier, ranging from offering grocery delivery services to digital coupons.
“All they talk about is being inspired and getting the food they want,” he said. “They don’t talk about it the way we talk about it in terms of online or store. They just talk about what is easy for them at that particular point in time.”
Events around NRF began on January 13 and run through Friday.