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Progressive Grocer March 2019

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Why go to the store? We saw a few jaws drop during a session at the recently concluded India Food Forum conference, when a speaker questioned the need for physical stores. I thought the question was particularly timely, considering our outlook of the omnichannel world, going ahead. I mean, most surveys seem to indicate that, while consumers are increasingly embracing online grocery shopping, they also express a desire and affection for the experience delivered by a trip to the store.

Online groceries are a rising trend. Near-future predictions include: Online grocery will grow steadily as consumers get a lot less anxious about buying produce online. Grocers will try to move to pure e-commerce models to handle the rapid growth, but will be stymied by lack of skilled personnel. And grocers will scale out their private label on any channel they can get their hands on.

The innovator’s dilemma is currently real for every grocer on the planet, many of whom don’t understand the nuances of technology-driven marketing. Not many existing supermarkets are prepared for the impact, even though they are doing their best to adopt as much tech as they can. Unfortunately, we’ve found that margin improvements required to win online groceries mean that they will probably have to be technology companies, applying data and code to stitch together a new way to build for the next hundreds of millions who have really started to dislike shopping at stores.