What do brands need to do to survive lockdown 2.0 and improve retail execution in Grocery Multiples?

9 November 2020
Author: Linzi McGuire

Recently, Kantar reported that take-home grocery sales rose by 9.4% in the 12-week period leading up to 4 October 2020, with shoppers moving more of their eating and drinking back into their homes as lockdown 2.0 was in various stages of implementation across the nation. 

As consumers move a greater proportion of their eating and drinking back into the home in response to rising Covid-19 infection rates, restrictions on hospitality and the end of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, what does this mean for execution Grocery multiples?  

Panic buying decimates certain categories and supply chain takes time to catch up

Since lockdown 2.0 was announced, there has been evidence of similar behaviours to those we saw back in Feb/Mar where shelves were made bare and demands on supply chains soared. This time it’s not been quite as extreme as the scenes from March, but sales of items like dried pasta, toilet roll and alcohol have all increased. 

Indeed, Kantar have shown that alcohol sales alone were worth £261 million more to the grocers in October 2020 vs last year – perhaps in response to pubs, bars and restaurants limited by curfews or lockdown restrictions across the nation. It’s clear that panic buying decimates certain categories and that the supply chain takes time to catch up.

Consumers may not be stockpiling the way they were at the beginning of the year, but the resurgence in shoppers has put pressure on execution, particularly at the fixture.

The resurgence in shoppers has put pressure on execution, particularly at the fixture

For brands to sell more they need to give themselves the best chance of being purchased in store. That means focusing on distribution, availability, visibility and display.  

As consumers move around a store, they will typically spend 10-30 seconds in front of a section of shelf. What should be on that shelf to help consumers find what they need?  

Brands need to be able to understand and influence the point of purchase better than anyone else. That means teams need be in the right place at the right time, all the time. A team with a healthy mix of physical and digital support is best. But don’t forget to constantly evaluate the mix. 

Brands must find the best way to ensure these three things are achieved to their fullest potential for perfect execution in store, which will help them sell more. Hint, the answer does not lie in relying on the retailer to do this for them. Makes sure your Sales & Execution teams give your brand the competitive edge at the point of purchase. 

Consider the pressures on the retailer

It’s no secret that retailers are feeling the strain too. Cost pressures at retailer and store level continue, and reductions in store staff means that stores don’t always execute as well as they should.

In addition, data from Nielsen highlights the continued shift to online shopping for groceries during the pandemic. The data tells us that FMCG spend in supermarkets increased by £678 million compared to last year, with online sales accounting for 97% of this growth. 

Nielsen also found that UK online grocery sales increased 117% year-on-year over August, while in-store sales grew by just 0.3%. This was before the lockdown 2.0 announcement.  

Figures released by Kantar show online reached 13.5% as a proportion of all grocery sales in the four weeks to 9 August, which is a new record high. 

We must remember the impact this has in store. Online shopping is mostly picked in-store from the shelf, so this actually increases the pressure on execution…

Field resource may be one of the keys to success 

Brands need to turn to their field teams to support their execution in store.

Considering how their field team is structured will also be important to ensuring that they can adapt and respond to changes across the retail estate. The model of permanent static coverage has been and gone. Now brands need to be thinking about how to structure their teams, so they use their resource day to day whilst taking advantage of opportunities that pop up, whilst also topping up with tactical as and when required during NPD launches, promotions or POS updates. Seasonal peaks should also be considered. Models must account for peaks and troughs throughout the year when the team structure may need to be flexed.  

Finding ways to make field teams as agile as possible will be key. They are a key component in retail execution but also a costly one, so they better get this part right. Make sure you’re ready for the rush and can scale your operation up and down when you most need it, whether that’s with tactical activation teams in outlet, adapting your call file to unlock opportunities in new geographies, or scaling up your digital presence to influence your customers when it best suits them. 

Use data and insight to spot patterns in your execution or, for optimum ROI, find the tech that will do this for you  

There’s no doubt that EPOS data is a powerful when used to its full potential. Every day, retailer’s EPOS systems generate thousands of data points on thousands of products.

When faced with such huge quantities of data it can be tough to know where to start, or difficult for brands to divert resources into data analytics and insights to drive action. The most effective way to harness this EPOS data may be to invest in a product that does this for you.  

Products like DART may be the solution brands need to thrive in the modern Grocery store. Kevin Green, Product Manager shared his expertise in this area: 

“DART pools EPOS data to create an overview of a product or brand’s sale history across the retail estate, looking at performance and seasonality on a store-by-store basis. It uses bespoke algorithms to identify opportunities, gaps, and predict how products will perform in the future.  

Through clever use of data, account, category and supply chain teams can deliver growth by using the most up to date information across the estate. They can use this to easily identify which products are trending, whether and where there are opportunities to deliver more sales, and to view the performance of current products on sale or promotion. As we have already noted, we also know that in store execution is everything and data can help here too. By running EPOS data through DART, brands can instantly see when and where products are underperforming so that they can direct resource to intervene and add value in store, saving time on number crunching and eliminating wasted store visits.” 

When change is the only constant, brands can’t afford to be on the backfoot when it comes to harnessing the power of their EPOS data. 

Are Technology products that help them do this, and do it quickly, the future?  

How brands can survive lockdown 2.0 and improve retail execution in Grocery Multiples

Brands have a lot to consider when it comes to getting their execution right in Grocery Multiples. It’s a highly competitive environment and it takes a lot of moving parts and challenges to content with – there is no one size fits all formula for success. Perfect execution is crucial, compliance is essential, data is king, insight drives everything including ROI, and a flexible people model in the field to help you implement all of this is critical. 

Stay tuned this week for more tips on how to win in Grocery multiples all this week on our LinkedIn page. Can’t wait until then? Talk to us.

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