Shoppers bring different needs to different shopping trips, and connecting with the needs that drive those trips is a proven way to earn more business — in fact, this is more true than ever now that shoppers have so many choices. Below are six trip missions that are being reshaped by digital tools — we offer up the needs that drive each, examples of how retailers are fulfilling those needs, and how to execute against the mission successfully.
A winning strategy starts with three steps:
- Identify your core shoppers’ top trip missions (it’s usually more than one).
- Build a shopper value proposition around the top missions.
- Develop a blended offline/online shopping experience that wins more business for those missions.
As you review this list, note that most of these trip missions are defined more by how the shopper can get the job done than by how much they spend. This is an important key to unlocking the potential of the mission. It’s especially relevant when thinking about your appeal to younger, Millennial shoppers, since they already are highly connected and demonstrate a desire to use their devices to seek out the products and services they need.
When people ask us which trip missions are the most important to focus on, our advice is to check with your customers; they will tell you what’s important. That said, given current trends and our recent research, we see big potential for supermarkets relative to the “Take My Order” and “Help Me Host” missions.
1. Stick to my list/budget
For this mission, shoppers want a controlled and planned shopping trip — they don’t want to spend more money than they have to, or to buy products that aren’t on their list.
- To minimize impulse purchases by shopping without kids or by avoiding less healthy options.
- To manage overall spending for products and fees in order to stay within budget.
Examples: This trip mission is rapidly shifting to digital via online grocery shopping services like those offered by Harris Teeter, Hy-Vee, ShopRite, Woodman’s, Safeway, Stop & Shop, Weis, etc. Online ordering gives customers the kind of control they are seeking on this mission.
To execute: Keep the cost of the basket competitive, including fees, and be sure to offer all specials and accept coupons (both digital and paper). Make it simple to shop from previous trips and to build the order over time. For this mission, shoppers may like to be able to add ingredients from online recipes and items from the digital sale flyer.
2. Take my order
For this mission, shoppers want ready-to-eat prepared food using a method that fits their busy, on-the-go lifestyle — NOT the traditional “standing in line at the counter” experience.
- Frictionless ordering: to be able to place an order online, from a mobile device or via a kiosk.
- Access to easy repeat orders (“my usual”), and the ability to take as much time as desired to build the order.
- Easy, convenient pickup and payment.
Examples: Chipotle and Starbucks apps are standouts at delivering this experience. The kiosks at Wawa convenience stores, Panera and the deli at Stop & Shop are another way of going about it.
To execute: Put in place a process that makes it easy to order in advance and simple to pickup and pay. Skipping the regular order and checkout lines is a big plus.
3. I need it just in time
For this mission, customers have an urgent need — it could be milk, a child’s favorite snack item, ingredients for tonight’s dinner, or a gift bag and tissue paper that they forgot to buy — and they can’t or don’t want to wait to fill it.
Driving need: Getting what they need quickly and easily. This is more important than how much it costs.
Examples: For this mission, shoppers are using services like Instacart, Shipt, Amazon Now, Google Shopping, etc.
To execute: Decide how you’re going to compete for this mission — not if. Will you provide the service yourself or partner with a third party to do it? This trip mission is growing fast and you won’t want to miss out.
More ways to appeal to younger shoppers
4. Help me host
This mission is all about planning a meal or event — big or small, special or casual, for friends or family. Traditionally it required two trips, one to make the order and another to pick it up. Now that preplanning and ordering have shifted online, shoppers can and often do eliminate the first trip.
Driving need: To order and get exactly what’s wanted — usually from the deli, bakery or catering departments, but it could also involve the butcher, produce or florist departments.
Examples: Many grocers, including Cub and Hy-Vee, encourage customers to order a holiday dinner one of three ways — online, in-store or by calling.
To execute: Make it easy to place an order, and for the customer to know it will be ready when promised. Retailers have traditionally promoted their offerings for entertaining, especially around holidays and graduation. Today this mission extends to shoppers’ needs for family dinners and casual gatherings, and it represents a growth opportunity. The rings can be large or small, but both include the opportunity to cross-sell incremental items via recommendations.
5. Help me find better options
For this mission, shoppers are looking for products with specific benefits, different recipes/meals or even better fulfillment options to solve a particular challenge or need — often related to taking care of themselves and their family. This mission is rapidly shifting online where the search capabilities, social media sharing and greater access to information and services make the task easier and faster than browsing store aisles.
- To quickly find relevant product and recipe options (helpful recommendations are appreciated).
- To find service solutions — such as subscriptions for regularly purchased items, like fresh produce (like Door to Door Organics), or meal kits (like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron).
Examples: Many retailers are offering innovative and creative digital ways that leverage solution selling to help customers. Here are just two:
Relay Foods offers M-F meal plan suggestions right on its home page that tie to current weather conditions or holiday seasons.
Whole Foods’ website allows customers to quickly get to what they are looking for by letting them choose “Show Me — Food, People, All” or “I Want To — Learn, Do, Both.”
To execute: Make it easier and more enjoyable for your customer to find and learn about the products and services that fit their lifestyle, food preferences or dietary needs.
6. Shop when and how I want
For this mission, shoppers want to shop when and where it’s most convenient for them — not according to store hours. Typically these are medium- to large-sized baskets that include the full range of household needs.
- To shop WHEN it’s convenient — early before work, late at night, or while waiting for a child at the dentist.
- To shop WHERE it’s convenient — from the couch, from work, from the commuter train, from soccer practice.
Examples: PeapodMobile is one service that really embraces this trip mission.
To execute: Provide mobile-friendly ways to order online. Provide access to the whole range of digital recipes, circulars, deals, etc. Include the ability to access past orders to build this order. Make it easy to schedule a convenient pick-up or delivery.
Overall, the key to a winning strategy is identifying which trip missions are most important to your top shoppers, and focusing your efforts there. The big prize comes when you can become a multi-mission store that serves all of your top customers’ top trip missions. Remember, the goal is to excel in the missions that are most important to your customers and deliver parity on the rest; no retailer could or should try to master all six.
How are you adapting to shoppers’ new trip missions?