In+Vision Blog

Insights into shopper’s behavior; vision for retailers.


Holiday Make or Break

Insight: This holiday season may be one of the most important for brick-and-mortar retail.

According to several reports, the holiday season is already well underway. Historically, as much as 40% of retail sales are recorded in the final two months of the year, according to the National Retail Federation. But that window has gradually increased over the past few years, and, in 2015, seems to have doubled.

A report commissioned by over Labor Day weekend found 14% had bought at least one holiday present before their kids started school this year. Another study by Rubicon Project found 29% had started shopping by mid-September.

Millennials outpaced other generations for early shopping in the former survey, and an analyst suggested the prevalence of online shipping and heavy retail promotions are actually causing shoppers to look earlier rather than waiting for late deals. In that same survey, a quarter said they’d plan to be done shopping before the end of November. Google says nearly half of shoppers completed all their shopping prior to Cyber Monday last year.

While Market Trak predicts more promising Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Business Insider reminds us that those dates fell below expectations last year likely because shoppers started earlier. Many believe early shopping will further dilute these key shopping dates this year, and some have even noted that this combined with relatively slow August and September retail sales could add up to a very disappointing year.

All the reports are adding up to one thing – to win this holiday, retailers and brands will really need to up their game and sustain a level of excellence over a longer period.

Vision: Go big this holiday in order to imprint the value of your brand into the minds of shoppers.

eCommerce has changed brick-and-mortar shopping in many ways, and the holiday impact is huge. As many as 75% will buy at least some of their gifts online according to Google, a quarter will use their smartphones and these online shoppers will likely spend more than their in-store counterparts. But, even more will use the internet for price comparisons before buying in-store (85%), product reviews (80%) and other shopping research (78%). Search will impact the places they shop as well, with the majority of shoppers exploring new stores during holiday shopping.

All this information levels the playing field in many ways for retailers and brands to differentiate in brand new ways. Look for many to finally jump into omnichannel with both feet, improving store pick-up for online orders and of-the-moment communications to drive urgency, and others to leverage the early shopping trend in creative ways.

Increased focus on merchandise selection and stock levels and other operational factors will become table stakes to continue to grow, with many needing to move into rare and unique items, timed assortments and other creative tactics to stand out.

In addition to all of the above, well trained and exceptional service agents will be necessary to gain and retain customers this holiday season and beyond. Customers already expect associates to be armed with tablets and ready to help with content not found online. To rise above the fray, a rock star up-sell and add-on strategy leverage outstanding service will be a key ingredient.

But above all, it will be increasingly important to win on experience. This can be improved product demonstration, in-store promotions and events, store and display design and immersive interaction. Execution and maintenance must be flawless, with each element clean, efficient and pleasing.

Doing all of this is no easy task. As a representative from Deloitte said, though, “Finding a really differentiated, winning strategy is really tough.” But it’s not too late to begin implementing some of these tactics, or even just a test and learn process to lay groundwork for future innovation. DCI-Artform can quickly help you develop a program. Contact us today to get moving! 


Focus on Facings

Insight: Shoppers buy more when products and packaging are visible, well-faced and organized.

Ninety-seven percent of consumers feel a superior environment sends the message that the retailer really cares about them (KRS 2012). In grocery, this means well-stocked and conditioned shelves. But, for retailers, maintaining stock levels and reducing spoilage are challenges.

Vision: Utilize space management solutions to ensure optimal product presentation.

Pusher trays and peg merchandising systems can achieve the appearance of attractive, full shelves at all times. For example, originally developed for prepackaged meat, SpaceGrid 1 has added 30-60 percent more facings and consistently grown sales and profit 15-30 percent!

These space solutions not only make it easier for customers to shop, but also improve stores’ profitability.

When DCI-Artform was asked to develop a tray for bagged salads in the produce department, the opportunity was not just to maximize the shelf appearance and improve labor efficiency, but also to reduce spoilage. The SpaceGrid 2 was developed not only to make it easier for customers to shop, but also to pull out for front stocking, include a specially designed lens and spring for value-added produce, and work with the cooler’s air flow to recycle cold air and keep product fresh.

Recently, SpaceGrid 1 has been used in frozen food sections to increase facings and make a “billboard” out of the profitable pizza category.

Whatever the category, the basic shopper needs are the same. To learn more about DCI-Artform Space Solutions, visit our microsite.

Retail Science Summary

Retailer – Attract shoppers and fulfill their need for quick navigation and selection

Brands – Make your product stand out and communicate you care with well-presented shelves

Shoppers – Stop digging through piles of unfaced product; get what you want with no fuss

Barriers to Purchase – If shoppers can’t see or get to products, they will not buy them


Keep ‘Em Coming Back

Insight: One of the top indicators that someone will shop a grocery store is that they were in that store within the prior week.

In other words, grocery shoppers tend to stick to one or a few stores and continually visit them. This repetitive cycle can be tremendously beneficial to retailers, but what happens if your shoppers break their routine because another store was more convenient or recommended?

Vision: Simple; keep shoppers coming back as often as possible.

Today, there’s more to grocery stores than mile-long rows stocked with pantry stuffers waiting to fill giant carts. More and more shoppers are using their local grocery retailers for small fill-in and convenience trips – and they want to. According to Acosta, 27 percent of shoppers go to a supermarket solely to pick up prepared meals. Several industry reports have indicated a tremendous rise in quick stops at supermarkets for a few items to complete recipes, cards or gifts, replenishment items or ready-to-eat meals.

On the other hand, shoppers are overwhelmed with choices when it comes to their daily grocery needs. Target and Walmart, for instance, have launched new store formats in recent years, targeting those with smaller baskets and more frequent visits. And basic grocery and impulse items can be found in nearly every retail format. Because shoppers tend to be creatures of habit, the more they visit a store for a quick trip, the more likely they are to return for a larger basket.

It doesn’t take a complete remodel or new store build to be more convenient and preferred when shoppers need just a few items.

DCI-Artform works with a variety of retailers to help cater to these new shopping needs through unique displays and experiences, as well as digital and print engagements that continually invite shoppers back in creative and impactful ways. We create mobile and modular systems that allow you to be supportive of day-parting and mealtime rushes. We remove clutter and help shoppers get to what they need faster through our Space Solutions products. And, we integrate through social media, mobile apps, print magazines and direct mail to maintain continual engagement.

To start being more shopper friendly, especially for smaller, more frequent visitors, contact us to learn more about our “retail reinvention” and shopper loyalty capabilities!

Retail Science Summary

Retailers – Influence consumers to shop your store for both small and large trip missions with the right store layouts and experiences

Brands – Work in partnership with retailers to conduct campaigns to entice more frequent visits

Consumers – Come back for all needs if they know they can get in and out quickly and pleasurably


Breaking the Habit

Insight:  While grocery shoppers are creatures of habit, it is possible to “retrain” them to pay attention.

I must have seen five speeches at conferences in the last year with the same conclusion: because grocery shoppers plan ahead, stick (mostly) to a list and tend to buy the same items time after time, the most impactful way to get someone to consider a new product is to appeal to her (or him) before she enters the store.

While it would be nice if there were just a few easy ways for both retailers and CPGs to target shoppers as they’re making their lists, unfortunately there are thousands of ways. In-store, the universe of options gets much more manageable. So is it possible to get someone to take notice at point-of-purchase?

Through an extensive exploration into checkout-adjacent merchandising (aka the candy, gum, snacks and drinks usually available while you’re waiting in line) we’ve discovered that it is possible, in fact, to “retrain” shoppers to take notice and make impulse purchases, but it takes more than just changing an SKU or two.

Vision:  True reinvention at grocery means data-driven assortment, researched path-to-purchase mapping and significant visual change.

Grocers and other formats that carry groceries (e.g., warehouse, mass, drug, dollar) have been making incremental changes for years, but the results are (generally) ho-hum. To make a difference, strategically reinvent the categories that deliver the most “quality sales.” And by reinvention, we mean more than just a new fixture, signage, promotion or slight assortment modification.

DCI-Artform has an approach rooted in Retail Science that, when applied to a key grocery category, results in real, meaningful sales growth, as well as cost reductions – essentially retraining how shoppers shop a section. It mixes SKU rationalization with segment-based insights, and results in big visual and decisioning changes that deliver ROI. Check out some of our grocery solution stories and contact us if you have a category ripe for reinvention!

Retail Science Summary

Retailers – Grow sales of the most beneficial categories through category reinvention

Brands – Reach shoppers at point-of-sale and retrain their decisioning process

Consumers – Find value in new product considerations and more pleasing shopping experiences

Barriers to Purchase – Unchanged assortments and experiences that don’t serve shoppers’ needs just get ignored


Bringing Style to Craft Beer

Insight:  As Millennials become the main shoppers for craft beer, they demand a new way to organize the products – by style.

During a recent deep dive into the craft beer category for a grocery client, we learned the varying needs at retail of different key shopper segments. During focus groups, we were surprised to learn that for Millennials, purchase consideration most often starts with the beer style and not brand.

Millennials, who are entering a new phase of their lives, are turning to craft beer. According to the Brewer’s Association, 46% percent of new craft beer drinkers are between the ages of 21-32.

While interesting names, local producers and unique ingredients closely follow, the decisioning process for most Millennials starts with what the type or style of beer (e.g., pilsner, stout, lager, ale, IPA).

Vision: Retailers should organize their craft beer sections by style rather than by brand.

During extensive global audits of grocery craft beer sections, we found that most were organized by brand or brewery location/geography primarily. For craft beer shoppers, especially Millennials, our research shows this is frustrating.

Further, we learned that enticing trial through tastings, “build your own six-pack” and other creative means helps these shoppers learn which varieties they like best. In general, shoppers are not walking into the aisle to load up on their favorite brands, but rather to explore a variety of flavors and styles. And even if they have a few standard favorites, they are very open and willing to try new products if given opportunities.

DCI-Artform has generated many additional insights that can inform an aisle reinvention for craft beer utilizing our InVision Retail Science Lab. We’ve applied our Magna-Mount and Space Solutions products to the space, but we are looking for retailer partners to provide customized solutions!

Retail Science Summary
Retailers – Increase craft beer sales by supporting their shoppers’ decisioning steps

Brands – Entice trial around style/type to generate increased share of the craft beer purchase

Consumers – Support category exploration to determine style preferences

Barriers to Purchase – A sea of product options, organized by brand, scares away shoppers