News flash! Consumers are convenience-hungry and time-poor. But you already knew that. The good news for consumers is that retailers have taken note, too. And now, these pain points have given way to a “micro-trip friendly environment,” another new facet of the modern hybrid shopping experience.
The micro-trip revolution is here, and big chains like Kroger and Target have found innovative ways to get you in and out, fast. (Alternatively, Whole Foods and other gourmet grocers have plenty of ways to keep you hanging around, including restaurant counters, cafés, and wine tastings, but that’s a topic for another blog.) If you find shopping a giant chore (and who doesn’t?), life is about to get much better.
Consumers are micro-tripping, and liking it
image courtesy of Kroger
What exactly is a “micro-trip”? Micro-trip shopping describes a quick run into the store, which takes between three and five minutes. Online grocery services, which allow busy consumers to order online and pick up in-store, have propelled these super-short shopping trips to the top of the food chain. According to recent studies, nearly 40% of U.S. shoppers take advantage of click-and-pick hybrid shopping. If retailers get it right, that number could more than double in coming years. While it may seem counterintuitive, these super-short shopping trips lead to big revenue.
After Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, it installed Amazon Lockers to feed the micro-trip craze, allowing for quick and easy pick-up of preordered items. Stores with Amazon Lockers saw an 11% increase in micro-trips, enough to capture the attention of other retailers. Those other retailers were left to ponder the micro-trip friendly environment, often stuck with store formats that desperately needed revamping. After all, time-strapped shoppers are still susceptible to convenient last-minute add-ons. Split-second decisions and face-palming memories of that one item you were supposed to grab can now be solved easily if the customer doesn't have to trek to the back of the store.
A new format for faster shopping
image courtesy of Kroger
Store formats are changing, slowly but surely. Embracing technology is the best way for retailers to leverage the assets that create a dynamic experience for consumers. This is especially true with the help of strategically placed targeted-marketing items, a gracious byproduct of customer loyalty cards, which are paving the way for AI to hyper-personalize the consumer shopping experience.
Retail formats are evolving to meet the consumer demand for service. Pre-packaged meals placed at the front of the store along with specific grab-and-go items are there to satisfy tired, hungry consumers itching for quick, easy options.
Micro-trip, macro impact
Efficiency is the key to a micro-trip friendly environment. Retailers who jump on the bandwagon will have to find a way to integrate ecommerce with personal physical interaction. Amazon started the trend with Amazon Lockers inside Whole Foods grocers. And while consumers showed their approval, other retailers quietly went to the drawing board.
Some are just now creating user-friendly apps that digitize the click-and-pick experience. Others are retrofitting stores with designated drive-thru areas so consumers really can have it their way. Any way you slice it, the micro-trip revolution is re-branding grocery and retail as we know it.