If it seems like everyday life is growing increasingly hectic, you’re not alone in feeling that way. Access to seemingly endless information and fingertip access to anything and everything has added convenience to our already busy lives while simultaneously creating a perception that we can actually do more with our waking hours.
As a result, global consumers are actively seeking ways to keep pace with an accelerated lifestyle. Shortcuts and automation are top of mind as we chase ways to overcome everyday obstacles to effortless living. For fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, the task at hand involves adapting and enhancing their solutions to do more than keep pace—they’ll need to stay ahead of the pace by understanding how consumer demand will change and what solutions will help.
When it comes to convenience, retail concepts are among the most referenced, especially small, physical store formats and the growing e-commerce environment. But the perception of convenience isn’t limited to a specific store format or virtual aisle. Consumer shopper missions are shaping the retail landscape. Globally, our global retail growth strategies survey found that 46% of consumers view shopping as a chore; and it’s no wonder, with consumers coping with busy lifestyles, commuting times and smaller living spaces.
As a consequence, consumers are replacing stock-up grocery shopping trips with smaller, more frequent needs-based trips. In fact, 10% of shoppers claim they buy just for the meal they plan to have on that specific day. This trend highlights a need for offline channels to adapt to consumers’ desire for immediate, need-based replenishment options.
Physical stores in the FMCG space will most certainly not cease to exist, but bigger stores won’t necessarily be better in the longer term, as they can be farther away and their footprints can make their aisles less convenient to navigate for quick trips. Comparatively, stores located along busy traffic routes that provide efficient in/out passage and click-and-collect offerings will continue to grow in popularity. In fact, we’re already seeing this play out in some regions.
Across all regions, smaller stores are posting higher growth than larger ones. Nielsen Retail Measurement Services data highlights that smaller stores now account for 25% of FMCG sales and 70% of shopping trips—evidence than branded or independent, small stores are well placed to tap into shoppers’ convenience needs.
“There is a lot of speculation that FMCG development will be exclusively in the online space as the demand for convenience pulls consumers toward e-commerce. Many view the growth of non-physical channels as bad news for bricks and mortar formats, but I see opportunities,” said Peter Gale, Managing Director, Nielsen Retailer Services South East Asia. “Convenience solutions can greatly enhance physical retailing—think cashless and automated payments, grab-and-go products, and click-and-collect. There will always be demand for physical stores, although in the evolving retail landscape, FMCG players will need omnichannel presence.”
So what does the purchase cycle look like for today’s consumers? Here’s a snapshot.
While physical stores aren’t going anywhere, there’s no doubt that digital technology, connectivity and online retailing are steadily influencing the need for omnichannel experiences. Even in areas where online shopping has not been well adopted to date, such as in fresh food shopping, the tides are shifting. For example, our Global E-Commerce Study found that 26% of consumers have bought fresh groceries online, up 15% from 2016.
But regardless of whether they’re shopping online or offline, consumers are seeking a more efficient and enjoyable experience. Large, small and virtual stores need to be infused with positive sensory encounters, relevant services, and technological capabilities that provide ease, utility and simplicity.
Eliminating mundane shopping actions with programmatic functions, automated lists and subscriptions that utilises artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality as well as other technologies, are the way forward. Technologies clearly have a vital and growing role in enhancing more convenient shopping experiences. They can help provide in-store, store-on-the-go and store-at-home experiences tailored to unique shopper preferences, delivered directly to their door or ready for collection.
Omnichannel and online shopping has opened up doors to global brands and provides consumers with endless—sometimes overwhelming—product choices. Retailers and manufacturers that can integrate individual consumer learning will be well-placed to provide easier, more relevant and more personalized shopping experiences.
For additional insight, download our Quest for Convenience report.