Knowing Your Shoppers

The key to success in retail is having actionable insights about your customer.

Knowing Your Shoppers

August 2023   minute read

Q: As a solutions provider with a strong read on the convenience store industry, what major trends are you seeing in the industry right now?

Convenience retailers who are focusing on their shoppers’ needs are winning within the channel. Shoppers are experiencing financial and time pressures. Those retailers focused on having the assortment shoppers need and want, engaging in promotions, leaning into private label, executing an online sales plan and leveraging insights from shopper loyalty are positioned to win.

Addressing their unique shopper needs within the context of their building size is a delicate balance. For example, c-stores need to manage their mix of branded vs. private label items and to allocate space within their stores to reflect their shopper’s behavior, needs and wants.

One more: Increasingly, retailers are having success in foodservice with flavors that are on trend and by giving their customers the ability to customize orders.

Q: What do these trends mean for a retailer in terms of what they should be doing?

Two areas of focus for retailers include the value they provide to their consumers and the gaps in assortment between their stores and their marketplace.

In 2022, manufacturers pulled back on trade spend as an offset to the amount of price increases. Now is the time to offer shoppers deals on what they are looking for. Specifically, multiple packs, temporary price reductions or LTOs, and cross-promotional offers. Promotions aligned with cents-off fuel or “buy 2 save X” (two months on, one month off is the sweet spot) are driving volume and bringing consumers into the store. Consider more investments in private label to enhance your margins and take business away from traditional QSRs.

Charles Simpson Senior Director Category Leadership

Large retailers utilize data to understand both their own sales trends and the emerging shopper demands in the market. Smaller retailers need to employ syndicated data to develop a holistic strategic plan to meet market and shopper needs. This will enable them to unlock incremental dollars through larger basket size and increased store traffic, with both new and repeat consumers.

Retailers who know their core shoppers have a huge advantage. This positions them to have the right products on the shelf optimally merchandised to encourage shopability, which translates to incremental sales. Because space is so limited in convenience stores, every square inch must be maximized. Convenience retailers need to leverage core items as well as offer the right mix of variety and innovation.

Q: there seems to be no limit to where retailers can find data, and the abundance of information can be overwhelming. Actionable, personalized data can also be expensive. Can you talk more about Advantage Solutions and how you bring accurate and profit-making, yet affordable, insights to the convenience retailer?

The number of data sources can get overwhelming when trying to decide where to invest. With cost in mind, one of the most beneficial things Advantage Solutions offers retailers is the ability to leverage our investments into different data sources as well as assortment optimization and space management tools. Advantage Solutions offers retailers, manufacturers and distributors a wide range of category and space management services where costs are scaled based on individual needs and budgets. Whether you need 1 or 1,000 planograms, we can provide resources to fit your needs and then price accordingly. If you don’t have the budget to hire a full-time category manager, we have options to allow you to purchase a block of time so you can focus on the things that matter while we provide thought leadership specific to your business.

Q: Do you have an example of how these insights can spur sales?

Absolutely. We pride ourselves on being the preferred choice for retailers, manufacturers and distributors. Below is one example to demonstrate our value to our clients.

A large distributor approached us with a need to assess its snacking sets to focus on independent and small chain c-store opportunities. The owners of these businesses approached the distributor with similar asks in terms of wanting to get greater insight into shopper behaviors as well as market trends. They had a need for an unbiased look at the market where they operate and to identify specific items that should satisfy shopper needs in terms of core, variety seeking and innovation.

In this particular case, we leveraged several data sources, including Circana/IRI and Shopper Insights. We assessed the original assortments versus the specific market consumption and developed a set of planograms for different set sizes that operators could use to meet their needs and drive sales. The overall impact to this distributor was an incremental 13% dollar growth.

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