Surviving Amazon and Whole Foods: Focus on the customer


The seismic announcement of the acquisition between Amazon and Whole Foods for $13.4 billion in cash left the world of grocery retail reeling. As the dust has begun to settle, we’re sharing what it means, and what it doesn’t mean, for grocery retailers.

Don’t panic

“The worst thing that a retailer could do right now is to have a knee-jerk reaction and try to find the quickest and cheapest way to go online,” said Stephanie Waters, Retail Industry Principal at SAP Hybris, “if you do that, there is zero doubt that you’ll have to reinvest in it within one to three years. You need a platform for now and in the future, and you need a solid plan.”

To compete successfully in the new world of grocery, retailers need to incorporate value, experience and convenience into an amazing and individualized experience for their customers.

John McCoy, Digital Industry Advisor, says that it’s imperative that grocers think about the right things. “All traffic should be important-both physical and digital. The focus must be on knowing your customer on a very personal level-individualized engagement is how you win their trust and their loyalty.”

Your biggest investment has to be your customer

Though the first response of grocer retailers might be to race to get some sort of minimally viable online service in place, that move could end up being very costly. Grocers must recognize that any investment must be made with the consumer experience in mind, or their online retail will be for naught.

It’s not enough to use a third-party delivery partner to assist with the online purchase process. You need a customer engagement and commerce strategy that will allow you to own and provide outstanding, individualized customer experiences, every single time, no matter where they are interacting with you.

If you aren’t incorporating a solid and strategic plan for providing an amazing customer experience, you will not be able to compete in this new landscape. It’s that simple. Retailers need to offer contextual, consistent, and relevant experiences across all touch-points.

By continuously enriching existing customer profile data from internal and external sources, you’ll be able to leverage predictive and advanced analytics in real-time, allowing you to make offers that are highly individualized and that ‘wow’ the consumer.

The new aisles of grocery retail are stocked with convenience

One of the most important factors to keep in mind when detailing a strategic plan for your grocery retail is that convenience is critical to the process. This means allowing your consumer to shop whenever and however they want.

The online and in-store experiences of your customer must be seamless, and must reach across all touchpoints. We know that 70% of millennials use their phone while grocery shopping, and that over 50% of consumers are willing to order their groceries online. We also know that 42% of shoppers have abandoned a purchase due to lack of product information.

Give your customers the prized benefit of time: the less time they have to spend shopping, the more time they have for other things that are more important to them. 

By providing outstanding experiences, from relevant marketing to intuitive online and in-store experiences and interactive, responsive customer service, you are forging an intimate relationship with your consumer.

Simply put, if you make the grocery experience of your customers outstanding each time they interact with you, no matter where they interact, you’re investing in a customer for life.

How to prepare for what’s next

The technology decisions you make today will affect the way you do business in the next 5 years.

Preparing for the next era of grocery retailing can seem overwhelming. You need a partner who has deep grocery experience to assist you in developing a strategic plan and roadmap to customer engagement as well as operational excellence without the need to rip and replace your current landscape. 

You also need a partner who has the financial resources and know-how to incorporate conversational commerce, machine learning, IoT, and other new technologies that will help your business evolve and grow in the new economy.

If you’d like to speak with someone about how SAP grocery retail services can help, you can email us by clicking here, and a grocery retail expert will reach out to you. 

If you’d like to learn more about engaging the new food shopper, and competing in the changing landscape, this is a great place to start



Jenn Vande Zande
Share this:
July 17, 2017
Jenn Vande Zande

Sign up for insights, trends & developments in ecommerce.