Shopping experiences both online and in-store are not meeting the customer expectation of purchasing goods anytime, anywhere, according to international consumer research.
In a survey of 4,000 consumers, Blue Yonder, a cloud-based provider of predictive applications for retail, explored consumer shopping habits online, in supermarkets, in discount retailers and in the mass merchants across the USA, UK, France and Germany.
It found that 81% of shoppers say they are unable to get produce they want in store, online and at discount retailers, yet 91% of grocery retail professionals are confident they are meeting customer expectations of availability.
Of those that struggle with availability, 35% state they are let down at least once a week, and lack of availability is even felt when shopping online, with 69% stating they have issues. This rises in the supermarkets to 85%.
This highlights that replenishment is not working as well as the retailers think, which has wider implications for profitability: 30% of all shoppers abandoned their carts if they were unable to find the produce they wanted, with 28% saying that they felt unsatisfied when buying a similar product as a substitute.
Lack of produce availability has caused 20% of shoppers to stop shopping with a retailer permanently or for a period of time, with this figure rising to 31% for online retailers.
Grocery retailers are overconfident of produce availability
This research was undertaken against a backdrop of enduring profitability issues in the grocery retail sector, and significant changes in consumer expectations. Given the paradigm shift that online retailing has caused in recent years and the subsequent shift in consumer expectations as to what constitutes ‘good’ availability, retailers are under intense pressure to provide optimal availability to their customers, while also turning a profit. Increased competition from new market entrants – who utilise data-driven approaches and automation at their core – are further intensifying this situation.
Professor Michael Feindt, chief scientific advisor and founder of Blue Yonder, said: “We all understand replenishment is incredibly difficult to get right, especially in regards to fresh grocery. Disruptive shopping behaviours have made increases in demand more variable while grocery shopping missions based on trust, freshness, choice and – of course – value, all add to the complexity of replenishment decisions.
“The demands on grocery management show no sign of abating in the always-on world. Yet, despite this, we have found in our previous survey of 750 grocery retailers that 46% of grocery directors admitted that their replenishment decisions are driven by gut feeling.”